Popular establishment to relocate to Fort Lauderdale

All through the morning on Monday they came to exercise at Steel Gym in Wilton Manors only to leave, one-by-one, disappointed and discouraged.

“This is a surprise,” said Dan, a Steel Gym member as he attempted to access the gym Monday morning only to be greeted by locked doors and posted signs saying, “Closed For Relocation.”

“It was fine last week,” said Dan, who declined to give his last name. “I think they went out of business.”

SFGN contacted Steel Gym owner Ken Hunt for an explanation. Hunt said the franchise is in the process of moving its Wilton Drive operations to the Searstown plaza (Sunrise and Federal) in Fort Lauderdale.

“This was a split second decision,” Hunt said. He further explained that if he hadn’t acted fast he would have lost the new location that, he says, will serve his customers by being larger and have ample parking.

Members, like Dan, were none too pleased.

“This is five minutes from my house,” said Dan, holding a water bottle and dressed in a tank top and athletic shorts. “I don’t like to drive a long way to go workout. I’ll probably be skipping workouts now.”

A few doors down from Steel Gym’s locked doors is the Out of The Oven Baking Company, owned and operated by partners J.T. Threlkeld and Chris Messina. Threlkeld said there has been a steady stream of gym goers arriving to learn of the relocation.

“This is bad business,” Threlkeld said. “To close like this and not let your members know is bad.”

Threlkeld, whose baking business opened in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors three months ago, said Steel Gym’s departure would have a negative effect on his business and others.

“A lot of their members would come into the bakery to buy protein bars,” Threlkeld said. “This hurts the local economy.”

Hunt said a laundry list of problems contributed to the company’s decision to pull out of the Shoppes of Wilton Manors. Those problems included differences with the landlord, roofing deficiencies and inadequate parking.

However according to court documents Steel Gym failed to pay their monthly payments in March and April and would have been removed from the property if they hadn’t left.

SFGN received numerous complaints on Monday from Steel Gym members claiming their credit cards were recently charged fees just days before the Wilton Drive location closure.

“It’s disrespectful to close a business without any communication to your members,” said Fort Lauderdale resident Jonathan Salt.

Salt said he will dispute the charge and look elsewhere for a new gym.

Hunt, an AFI-certified personal trainer and fitness expert, said he was unaware of the billing department’s errors and promised to give members a free month at the new Fort Lauderdale location.

“I apologize to everyone for not being prepared,” Hunt said. “When the dust settles I think people will realize that we did make the smart move.”

Hunt said the new location would open the day after Memorial Day.

Steel Gym also has locations in Miami and New York. Hunt’s Wilton Manor’s location has been plagued with legal issues including multiple lawsuits and bankruptcy court for the past year. Despite those troubles Hunt proclaimed to another news outlet a year ago that the gym would not be closing.