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Day: December 27, 2011

Fitness club members wonder where gym went

Keizertimes/Jason Cox

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes 

A Keizer gym’s abrupt closure has left members wondering what happened to the membership dues they paid.

What has some Platinum Sports and Fitness members especially upset is that the gym apparently sold new memberships nearly right up until its closure. One man said he bought one a week before a note was posted on the door saying the gym would be closing at 1 p.m. Thursday, December 22. The owner said he was selling memberships until he made the decision to close that same day.

And at least one member said his bank account was charged for monthly membership dues on December 27, several days after the gym had closed. Another said she had been contacted and told it may be reopening in some form or fashion.

Platinum Sports and Fitness owner Corey Ahrens said memberships will be transferred to another gym, but declined to say which. Ahrens added there will be no refunds. Platinum Fitness is individually owned and is not part of a chain, and its billing is administered by a third-party firm.

“The reason I closed was how horrible the public was about rumors and false information,” Ahrens wrote in an email to the Keizertimes. “Just like now and your story will just feed that fire.”

Ahrens said a firm called All State Financial owns the memberships. He said he’s “out of the picture” and declined to answer further questions, but said “everything was done properly … no one cares I have to feed my family and provide for them.”

The Keizertimes contacted the company at the phone number Ahrens provided. A representative for the company identified the company’s name as Motionsoft and stated the closure was so new that they weren’t exactly sure what would happen next.

Whether Ahrens’ proposal is legal or not depends in large part on how close the new gym is to the largely-vacated storefront at 3580 River Road N. Oregon’s Health Spa Act states memberships can only be transferred when the new place is less than five miles from the former location.

“It basically gives the consumer an option of saying, ‘I’m willing to drive to the original facility but (the new one) adds another 20 minutes and I don’t want to go, so I’m gonna cancel the contract,’” said Keith Dubanevich, chief of staff at the Oregon Department of Justice.

Daniel Del Real had been a member less than a week before he came to work out on Thursday, Dec. 23, only to be told to leave when he arrived. A Keizertimes reporter arrived shortly thereafter and was told by an unidentified man inside that the gym was just getting new equipment and would reopen after Christmas.

Del Real thought $100 flat was a bargain for a year-long gym membership.
“Personally I was wondering if I was getting my money back because I used it all of a day,” Del Real said.

All that day, people kept walking up and were surprised to find they no longer had a gym to work out in.

Some said they saw the closure coming, as there had been an ongoing lack of heating and the gym had just recently stopping issuing free clean towels to customers. Nate Jones said he’s going to miss the camaraderie.

“You develop friendships and bonds with people,” Jones said.

Todd Flint called Platinum Fitness a “bare-bones gym” and saw trouble coming.

“I was just shocked. Then I realized I knew it was going to happen,” Flint said. “I knew it was too good to be true.”

Don Yankovich said his account was hit with a monthly gym membership charge on December 27, even though he has no gym to go to.

“The members of Platinum are feeling misled; angry and taken by the actions of Corey Ahrens & (the gym),” Yankovich said in an email.

Linda Goodrich signed up when it was Gold’s Gym when she needed exercise after open-heart surgery. She renewed her membership for $199 in June.

“It was a good deal, so I did it. (But) it wasn’t a very good one,” Goodrich said.

Devarshi Bajpai just renewed a couple of weeks ago for $150 on a state worker special.

“Obviously they knew about this when they signed me up,” Bajpai said. “They just plain lied to me.”

“Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy” by James A. Roberts

“Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy” by James A. Roberts

c.2011, HarperOne
$25.99 / $28.99 Canada
353 pages, includes index

 

By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

Your financial goals for the next year are set.

On the list are things like “pay off credit cards” and “save for retirement.” You’ll be putting some money away for your business or for emergencies. There will be little splurges, sure, but cautiously.

Nothing on the list indicates that you would like to default on your mortgage. There is no “run up credit cards” entry, and you don’t intend to buy something big that you can’t really afford.

But can you stick with your goals? What kind of a spender are you, anyhow?  Find out that and more in the new book “Shiny Objects” by James A. Roberts.

Money does some strange things.

Research shows that an overabundance of it makes people less altruistic. It can cause depression and alter relationships. It obviously puts us in debt – not to buy happiness but to buy stuff, and lots of it.

Roberts says we really do live in a material world and we’re “a nation in love with shiny objects.”  That doesn’t make us content: wealthy Americans are, on a happiness scale, virtually equal with Maasai villagers in Africa. Furthermore, we never have enough. When we reach the financial goal we thought would bring us The Good Life, we find that the goalpost has moved.

How did we get this way?

Roberts believes that this issue goes back 170 years. Before then, people were more willing to work hard for what they had, but the Gold Rush allowed folks to dream about getting rich, quick. That eventually led to the so-called American Dream of home ownership and, well, we know how that’s turned out.

What we’re forgetting, though, is that recent economic disasters are nothing new. We’re seeing a repeat of situations that have happened before: in the 1920s, in the late 1970s, when the dot-com bubble burst, and so on…

So how can you achieve “financial tranquility”?

Cut up those credit cards and use cash. Build a budget, pay yourself first, and enlist friends to hold you to your goals. Unplug the TV but say no to the mall. Rent or borrow what you don’t need often and know your bank and debt balances. Pay attention to the course you’ve charted.

So you overspent this year. Have the holiday bills started to arrive yet?  Whether they have or haven’t, it’s a great time to read “Shiny Objects.”

Using easily understandable terminology and some gently folksy humor, author and Baylor University professor James A. Roberts explains how your checkbook ended up so empty and why, and he shows you how you can change it. He covers all bases, too, including money and religion, and how insidious marketing can worm its way into your brain without your knowing it.

I liked this book for its pointers and quizzes, for its liveliness in a notoriously dry subject, and for its relevance to what’s going on in the world.  If you’re interested in money or if you need an excuse to shop, “Shiny Objects” is a safe thing to buy.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

St. Edward to build new $5.5M church

Keizertimes/File Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Plans are underway to build a large new church for the St. Edward Catholic faithful.

Parishioners got a glimpse Sunday at plans for the 11,700 square foot proposed facility. And there’s a massive capital campaign to go along with it: The church hopes to garner $5.5 million in pledges by Easter.

“It is ambitious, but we want to keep the monentum going,” said Debbi McCune, who is the capital campaign manager.

The church hopes for a 2013 opening, with groundbreaking by fall in 2012. The new building will be on its current campus. The existing building, which has housed the church’ since it opened, will be renovated into meeting space and classrooms.

“It was always intended to be a gym,” church business manager Bonnie Henny said of the current facility. “We’ve never built a true church building.”

She said the church was spun off of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Salem, when a need was identified for a Catholic church in Keizer. The current building was constructed in anticipation of a school that was never formed. McCune said having a Catholic school in Keizer was not in the cards as of now.

In a time when churches nationwide are losing members, the Catholic faith both locally and nationally is buoyed by an influx of immigrants, particularly Latinos, who are predominately Catholic. Both McCune and Henny said the influx of Latinos into Keizer has boosted both the parishioner rolls and the need for additional space.

“They are out of space in everything they do,” said Henny, who added the church counts about 1,300 families among its congregation. “We have a very active Hispanic ministry (with) one mass a week and about three nights a week of activities.”

With about 220 meetings held on the campus each month, just setting a schedule is a daunting task, McCune said.

“We found our growth was a little bit limited due to space,” McCune said. Led by Father Gary Zerr, the church completed a visioning process in recent years.

They estimate the new church will seat about 600 people for a mass with the ability to add about 170 more seats. The current church can hold about 400.

The Archdiocese of Portland is the most likely financier, and one requirement is that the building be viable for at least 100 years “with minimal repair,” Henny said.

While details of the new building are still uncertain, there are some basic elements that should inspire an airy feel, McCune said, including a meditation garden and lighter features.

Henny said environmentally-friendly aspects like incorporating solar energy are part and parcel of the plan.

“We try to be a green church,” she said.