When something goes wrong at 24 Hour Fitness in Paramus -- from a lack of heat to long delays in repairing broken equipment -- employees often blame the problem on "Corporate," a reference to company headquarters in California.
When 24 Hour Fitness opened in a long-shuttered 10-screen movie theater on Route 4 in Paramus, the club likely was the biggest such operation in northern New Jersey.
But I noticed short cuts right away when I started using the recumbent exercise bikes, which didn't have individual TVs like the ones at my former gym.
I changed gyms when my Medicare supplemental insurance offered a free membership -- Silver Sneakers -- in 24 Hour Fitness, Gold's and other clubs.
24 Hour Fitness was the biggest and airiest among the clubs I could join, and I especially liked the large whirlpool and sauna booths I could use after my cardio workout there.
However, in the last several years, I've encountered problems ranging from a lack of heat to empty hand-sanitizing dispensers to broken exercise bikes to managers and employees who simply don't give a shit and blame "Corporate."
When I complained hand-sanitizing dispensers remained empty for several days, one manager actually claimed the cleaning staff was stealing the liquid.
When I said the second level where I work out was too cold, I was told the heating and ventilation was controlled by "Corporate."
The one piece of equipment I use on every visit, the Life Fitness Lifecycles or recumbent exercise bikes, have dwindled to three from four, and all are broken though usable -- they have rocking seats, missing handles or can't be adjusted.
Managers always seem to have an excuse for why the five-year-old equipment is not repaired -- from the maintenance guy being on vacation that week or out on bereavement leave or simply that the position is vacant.
This week, I asked the operations manager about why repairs took so long -- weeks, if not months -- and she said "Corporate" had to approve the purchase of parts.
A few days later, she had good news -- the parts approval came through and the order was placed. I'm not holding my breath.
Here is just one of the bad reviews of the Paramus 24 Hour Fitness that appears on Yelp, from a man who lives in Maywood:
"What a shame.
"I have been a member of this gym since they first opened. Loved it in the beginning; it was clean and had beautiful basketball courts and great staff. I recently unfroze my membership after about a year and the facilities have really deteriorated. The showers are dirty, a good amount of the machines do not work, and most of the lockers do not lock. Most people don't even know the lockers do not work, and close them thinking their things are safe. Anybody looking for a locker can open them right back up revealing somebody else's belongings. If they are not going to fix the lockers the least they can do if put a sign up notifying members of the inconvenience.
"Even worse than the condition of the gym is some of the staff. There are a few helpful people left but most seem like they are just trying to make things more difficult for members. The most recent example was when I went to play basketball and asked the front desk for a ball. A tall guy tending the desk says he needs me to give him ID to hold while i use the ball. I did not have ID but offered my car keys or cellphone. He says that we cannot take personal items, which i understood. Went back to my car and came back with a personal card with my name and my college ID, and he refused to take anything stating he needed a state ID. FOR A BALL. Made a third trip outside and found and old basketball in the back. When i finally walked back in he gives me a look and says "there you go". None of these rules were in the contract i signed when i joined the gym.
"I just wanted to play basketball."
24 Hour Fitness is said to be the world's largest by memberships, and many of the problems may stem from a change of corporate ownership in 2014.
Four days after my last visit, two of the three recumbent exercise bikes were repaired. The third bike still has a rocking seat, which I find annoying.
This week, the seat on this recumbent exercise bicycle on the second level of 24 Hour Fitness in Paramus couldn't be adjusted, so only members who are 4 feet tall or less were able to use it.
This hand-sanitizing dispenser, also on the second level, has remained empty for several days to a week or more.
Users of the recumbent exercise bikes are treated like a despised minority. The back of one of the Life Fitness Life Cycles is visible at right -- there were never more than four.
|Four days after my last visit, the recumbent exercise bike in the middle and the one on the right were repaired.|