Youfit Founder Responds to Club Closing, Complaints

Youfit founder Rick Berks addressed a recent club closing in Florida as well as complaints received by the attorney general's office in that state.

Youfit founder Rick Berks addressed a recent club closing in Florida as well as complaints received by the attorney general's office in that state.

A Youfit club in Naples, FL, closed Monday, the Naples Daily News reported, and the Greater Naples YMCA already has offered a free month of membership to former Youfit members. Contrary to the report, Berks tells Club Industry that the mention about one Youfit member who paid through next March and is worried about not getting his money back is "completely false."

"We did not sell paid-in-full memberships at that club and did not collect member dues for our final month of operation," Berks says.  "No advance payments were collected, but you can be certain that should any legitimate claims present themselves Youfit will quickly refund any monies due."

The newspaper also reported that the Florida Attorney General's Office is investigating the Deerfield Beach, FL-based company. The press secretary for the attorney general said the office has received 81 complaints about Youfit.

Berks tells Club Industry that a majority of the complaints are related to Custom Built Personal Training, a company that Youfit outsourced in several of its clubs.

"We parted ways with that company at the beginning of this year, and Custom Built has notified (in writing) the AG's office that it takes full responsibility for those complaints," Berks says. "A number of other (complaints) came from Youfit's acceptance of members from two closed Shapes [women-only] clubs in the Tampa market."

Berks added that the issues related to the Shapes members, to the best of his knowledge, have been resolved.

About 40 of the remaining complaints, filed from August 2010 through September of this year, center around member sign-ups, cancellations and collections, Berks says. In that time span, Youfit has had more than 750,000 transactions and averaged 40 open clubs in the state of Florida, he added.

"I believe the AG's office will eventually come to the obvious conclusion that Youfit really does do a great job with customer service and is a credit to our industry," says Berks, who founded the high-volume low-price club company in 2008. "We at Youfit go to great lengths to minimize problems and complaints in the most responsible, professional way possible, and we're committed to improving our methods every day."

In April, Youfit announced it had raised growth capital from PWP Growth Equity. At the time, Youfit boasted 67 clubs in seven states. The following month, Youfit announced the opening of the company's 70th club.

The Naples Daily News reported the company now has 75 clubs in 12 states.

"Youfit will be over 100 clubs in the next few months," Berks tells Club Industry, "and yes, occasionally, in spite of our best efforts, a couple like Naples don't work."

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