November 8, 2017

Merle Gregg's Legacy of Scams, Frauds, and Stupidity

All that seems left of the cautionary business tale that was Merle Gregg's litany of gym business scams, frauds, swindles, cheats, and all manner of other business nonsense that were Epicenter Fitness, then Seattle Executive Fitness, and then Go Total Body Fitness, is the epitaph that Merle Gregg continued the gym industry's long history or poorly operated businesses that nearly always turns to deceptive business practices and frauds.

When Merle Gregg took over All-Star fitness in 2011, he acquired a large and useful physical fitness facility. Over the course of just a few years, he and his cohorts incrementally, nearly systematically, ran it into the ground, and destroyed it. Along the way hired henchmen like the obnoxious bullying Todd Dail, who seemed to relish in knowingly conspiring in the operation of a shady business.

During one period there was at least half a dozen gyms competing with each other in downtown Seattle. Today, all that is left of large scale gyms in downtown Seattle in the national chain 24 Hour Fitness, which existed long before the other gyms arrived and are now little more than bad memories.

Since the demise of the Merle's fitness business mess, Merle Gregg seems to have nearly erase every trace of his existence form the internet, save a couple of LinkedIn profiles that reference his ownership of his failed businesses, neither one mentioning the alternate business names used in the other profile.

September 22, 2017

Huckster John Bartlett - Seattle Executive Fitness Company Boy

Huckster John Bartlett - Seattle Executive Fitness Company Boy

John Bartlett was the right hand henchman of Seattle Executive Fitness / Go Total Body Fitness / Epicenter Fitness owner Merle Gregg. John Bartlett would tell any lie, perpetrate any scam or scheme, and do whatever fraud related deed that own Merle Gregg wanted of him.

Like nearly all of the rest of the hucksters and scammers who enabled Merle Gregg to perpetrate his various business idiocies, John Bartlett appears to have all but scrubbed himself from current existence on the world wide web entirely.

For example, his various facebook pages haven't been updated in multiple years. Back in his fitness business days he was out and about promoting all manner of nonsense such as touting that "wellness can be achieved by an emphasis on a plant based diet, lifestyle, motivation, and exercise". While the exercise is surely important, the fact is that eating plants, i.e. carbohydrates long term is the primary cause of the diabetes and obesity epidemics. Since his days huckstering for Merle Gregg, John Bartlett appears to have dropped all those activities like they were hot potatoes.

These days, it seems that lying huckster John Bartlett is out of the "fitness" business altogether. For the moment he appears to be shilling for the profiteering real estate company Blanton Turner, as a "leasing agent", trying to cash on the economic feeding frenzy that has turned Seattle into a monstrosity like a scene from a Robert Heinlein novel, where people on one of the economic extremes are buying tiny 1,000 square foot condos for a million dollars each while the city's sidewalks are littered with homeless and destitute hobos sleeping next to storefront doorways.

So, if you ever encounter this John Bartlett guy, if he's trying to rent you a tiny downtown Seattle "luxury" apartment for the price of the monthly mortgage on the million dollar house, don't say you weren't forewarned.

February 15, 2016

Go Total Body Fitness - The Zombie Gym - The Fitness Walking Dead

The unscrupulous hucksters who have operated a gym in downtown Seattle at 509 Olive Way by various names for a number of years, seem to continue on like a form of business zombie.

They are the fitness club walking dead.

Although the gym at 509 Olive Way now calls itself Go Total Body Fitness these days, it is still owned and operated, at least in part, by Merle Gregg. Merle Gregg has managed to all but destroy every fitness business he has every been associated with, regardless of name. The gym used to be called Seattle Executive Fitness. Before that it was called Epicenter Fitness. With each name change, Merle Gregg's gym has gotten worse and worse, smaller and smaller, and more and more badly managed.

Based on the reviews at, Merle Gregg and his cohorts are still perpetrating the same bad business scams they've been using for years.

Merle Gregg even still employs company man huckster John Bartlett as his sidekick in business mismanagement as well.

The irony, is that the antics of Merle Gregg, John Bartlett, and crew, seem to prove the old adage that "there's a sucker born every minute", because they still seem to manage to convince people to join their gym. This is astonishing, since what is left of the gym at 509 Olive Way is only about one tenth the size that it was when Merle Gregg bought the gym from its previous owner back in 2011.

What is also astonishing, is that Merle Gregg has thus far managed to keep from going completely bankrupt. That is truly a wonder.

Meanwhile, most people who work or live near downtown Seattle have found alternative places to workout. Other gyms may be mismanaged as well, but Merle Gregg's antics over the years have been so historically horrendous that any other gym within an hour's drive is likely at least a small improvement.

October 30, 2015

Merle Gregg is Known to Retaliate!

Merle Gregg has a reputation for retaliation against any member of his gyms over the years who speaks up to gym staff and management about the myriad problems that plague his facilities and often vex gym members.

July 9, 2014

West Seattle Athletic Club - Chapter 11 Bankruptcy ...

It looks like Seattle Executive Fitness isn't the only Seattle area gym on its last legs. Former Seahawks player Sam Adams has just filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. His bankruptcy filing is apparently a last ditch effort to save the West Seattle Athletic Club, at 2629 SW Andover St, Seattle, WA 98126, from closure. Sam Adams is facing multiple other lawsuits against him. Many of the lawsuits are about his failure to pay rents at many of this other gym facilities. Sam Adams apparently owes various commercial landlords hundreds of thousands of dollars. All that has saved Sam Adams from eviction at the West Seattle Athletic Club is the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Sam Adams bought West Seattle Athletic Club out of another bankruptcy auction, after the previous owner went into liquidation (see previous stories on this site). The West Seattle gym was previously called All-Star Fitness. Before that, Sam Adams was the co-owner of Epicenter Fitness with Seattle Executive Fitness owner Merle Gregg. Merle Gregg eventually ended up with the Seattle locations of what was once All-Star Fitness, and Sam Adams bought the other locations. Now it appears all the gyms that used to be All-Star Fitness facilities, are on the brink of closure, despite their changes of ownership. It seems that Sam Adams and Merle Gregg suffer from the same terminal inability to get even the most basic aspects of running a business right.

(source story from KOMO news)

June 9, 2014

Seattle Executive Fitness - 700 5th Avenue - Location Closing!

The latest sign that Merle Gregg's Seattle Executive Fitness seems close to bankruptcy has arrived. That sign is that Merle Gregg is closing the 700 5th Avenue 14th Floor Seattle Executive Fitness gym location. A few weeks before the 5th Avenue Seattle Executive Fitness location closed entirely, the staff there closed the swimming pool. In the process of closing the swimming pool, they told members all sorts of lies and made all manner of excuses about why they were closing it, which led people to complain about the problem on The fact is that many Seattle Executive Fitness members only visited the 5th Avenue location to use the pool. The rest of that Seattle Executive Fitness gym location was too small and overcrowded anyway.

In the meantime, members have been quitting the horrible Seattle Executive Fitness in droves. It is just bizarre that the gym's absurd owner Merle Gregg has managed to take two once very serviceable fitness clubs and completely run them into the ground. When Merle Gregg bought out the gyms from All-Star Fitness in the summer of 2011, they are quite nice places to work out. Then, step by step, Merle Gregg and the people who work for him, did everything imaginable to incrementally ruin the places. 

Meanwhile, just trying to quit Seattle Executive Fitness is a project in itself. The management and staff don't even allow members to follow the procedures outlined in their own written contract. Instead they require members to send a written letter by mail to their billing company ABC Financial. The process seems like all part of their many self defeating ripoff schemes, designed to irritate members infinitely while they try in vain to suck every last buck they can out of the people they've suckered into joining their travesty of a gym. 

Most of the people who used to workout at Seattle Executive Fitness have already moved on to other gyms in the area. It seems like every gym in Seattle has its problems and deficiencies, but Seattle Executive Fitness has managed to find ways to top the list of places to avoid at all costs. Since the buck stops at the top, every that has made Seattle Executive Fitness such a nightmare is all Merle Gregg's fault.

November 21, 2013

Seattle Executive Fitness: Removed - Bicep and Tricep Circuit Training Machines

Since the most recent desperate downsizing and facility downgrade at Seattle Executive Fitness, the gym's management has removed the Cybex Bicep and Tricep circuit training machines. Rumor has it that hundreds of gym members have sent email requests to management asking that these machine be brought back and included in the gym's now decimated circuit training area, but management refuses. Apparently the incompetent management and fitness training staff doesn't think members should want to be able to get a quick and easy bicep and tricep workout during their trips to the Seattle Executive Fitness facility.

Below are photos of the Cybex VR3 Arm Curl machine, for bicep training, and the Cybex VR3 Arm Extension machine, for training triceps, in the gym before two-thirds of the third floor of the Seattle Executive Gym at 509 Olive Way was removed from the facility.

Cybex VR3 Arm Curl machine, before recent gym downsizing.

Cybex VR3 Arm Extension machine, before recent gym downsizing.

Circuit training equipment provides an essential and efficient way to quickly train muscle groups, with decades of proven results. Other training methods are usually more difficult and time consuming to implement. With a turn of a dial or switching of selector, it is possible when using circuit training equipment to adjust weight resistance in seconds. Circuit training machines also provide proven mechanism for isolating and training specific muscle groups. Such equipment is called circuit training, because once setup, it is possible to quickly move between a group of machines continuously working specific muscle groups in succession. Since Seattle Executive Fitness all but annihilated its circuit training and cardiovascular exercise areas, all that is left is less than half the previous amount of equipment at this gym.

The current, cramped, incomplete, insufficient - circuit training area - at Seattle Executive Fitness.

This total failure at Seattle Executive Fitness to provide a reasonably complete set of even the most basic circuit training equipment, is clear evidence of the gym's disregard of its members. The loss of the two pieces of equipment described here, is only the tip of the iceberg of disdain for member service at this gym. Seattle Executive Fitness also appears to be moving toward pay per session group exercise program they call F.L.I.G.H.T. (an acronym), in another desperate attempt to convince members to pay hundreds of additional dollars, in addition to monthly dues, for a group exercise fad that has spawned small boutique gyms offering similar services, but which probably won't take much time to loose its isolated popularity after people realize such programs will cost them thousands of dollars annually for something they can accomplish individually, at their own pace for less money and possibly even in less time with appropriate fitness motivation. This  absurdly expensive group exercise program, that would only appeal to the segment of gym members who like group exercise, has come at the expense of much of the floor space at Seattle Executive Fitness. At this point, it seems like the only reasonable option members have is to begin evaluating other gyms in search of one that at least provides a reasonably decent facility.

November 15, 2013

Precor's State of the Art Equipment - isn't available at Seattle Executive Fitness

The newest models of the cardiovascular exercise machines available from Precor aren't available at Seattle Executive Fitness. The Precor cardio training machines at Seattle Executive Fitness are approximately six or seven years old. The Cybex treadmills at Seattle Executive Fitness are even older.

Current model Precor elliptical trainer machines, such as the state of the art Precor EFX 885, not only include both elliptical stride motion and adjustable ramp angle, they have a modern full sized touchscreen LCD control panel, not the outmoded LED panels on the older 556i and 546i models found at Seattle Executive Fitness. This new design provides many more options than the ones available on the equipment at Seattle Executive fitness, most of which are outdated discontinued models.

The video below shows this newest Precor cardio training equipment in action, and some of the features these newer machines include.

Precor Fitness makes very nice cardiovascular training equipment. However, only two of Precor's last year's model Adaptive Motion Trainer cardio machines are available at the 509 Olive Way, Seattle Executive Fitness facility.

November 1, 2013

The Hours of Operation Have Been Cutback at Seattle Executive Fitness - The Death Spiral Continues

Unfortunately for members who work all day, the Seattle Executive Fitness gym on Olive Way in downtown Seattle has reduced its evening hours. The Olive Way gym now closes at 9:00 PM weeknights. Previously, the gym was open until 11:00 PM, a minimum reasonable hour for a gym that portends to cater to "executives", many of whom work late into the evening and would like to get in a workout on the way home from the office. For the moment, the other location, the tiny gym in the Municipal Tower on Fifth Avenue remains open until 10:00 PM weeknights.

With each passing week there are increasing indications that Seattle Executive Fitness is thrashing about in the throws of what seems like an inevitable death spiral. The signs of doom are everywhere at Seattle Executive Fitness: from the reduced size of the Olive Way gym, loss of the separate Olive Way street level entrance, desperate attempts to diversify into the "Spa" business, defections by trainers and group class instructors, removal of equipment, removal of the Women's Only workout room, the lack of maintenance, and now the reduction in hours of operation.

There are numerous competing gyms with longer hours than Seattle Executive Fitness, including 24 hour Fitness (which obviously is open 24/7), which has a large location just a few blocks east of the Olive Way Seattle Executive Fitness location. Much of what is happening at Seattle Executive Fitness seems like an extreme failure to listen to or to pay attention to customers and customer service. The people who manage Seattle Executive Fitness have failed to understand, internalize, and implement, even the most basic tenants of the Business 101 fundamentals. Anyone who's taken even just a few college business administration courses knows how nearly every such scenario ends.

If only there were indications that Seattle Executive Fitness management might step back from the edge of the cliff where it currently stands, but there don't seem to be any at all. If the history of Merle Gregg's previous gym business ventures is any predictor of the end result for Seattle Executive Fitness, his business track record indicates that he will won't listen to anyone, not even the paying customers he is driving away, until its too late, and the gym's doors are closed forever, not just at 9:00 PM weeknights.

October 24, 2013

Seattle Executive Fitness, Before and After - Before: Cybex Treadmill Room - After: Cramped Free Weights Room

When the gym at 509 Olive Way was AllStar Fitness, the area depicted in the first photo below was a dedicated treadmill cardio training room, filled with well organized rows of Cybex treadmills. There was an array of HDTVs on the wall, since the older model treadmills at the time didn't come with individual cardio theater systems.
The latest Cybex treadmills, like the console depicted at the left, do have the individual cardio theater systems which have become standard equipment on cardio training machines at nearly every self respecting commercial fitness club in America. Even without the latest innovations and conveniences of the current cardio training equipment that is offered by companies like LifeFitness, Precor, Cybex, and others, the Cybex treadmills that have been at Seattle Executive Fitness could remain serviceable as long as they are well maintained. Over the years though, the Cybex treadmills at Seattle Executive Fitness have became less and less well maintained.

Recently, after most of the third floor gym was downsized into its current decimated condition, this is what the miniscule free weights area looks like, in the room that was once dedicated to Cybex treadmills.

It is extremely difficult to imagine how Seattle Executive Fitness management believes it can stay in business with other gyms in the Seattle area that are fully equipped with vast arrays of the latest fitness equipment, setup neatly in well organized configurations, within spacious, comfortable, facilities.

October 22, 2013

Seattle Executive Fitness Posts Signs About Reductions in Service that contains LIES, LIES, LIES, AND MORE AND MORE LIES!

The management at Seattle Executive Fitness is just telling, lies, lies, lies, and more and more lies. Recently, signs have been posted around the 509 Olive Way location of Seattle Executive Fitness that attempt in vain to explain away the fact that a huge portion of the gym's floor space is now gone. No reasonable person could possibly be gullible enough to believe the sort of nonsense that these signs attempt to peddle at the gym's members. It is obvious to every intelligent Seattle Executive Fitness member that the gym's shocking size reduction is the product of financial desperation, to reduce the overhead expense of floor space rental. Here's one of the so called FAQ signs posted around the gym:
Click for a larger version with readable text.

#1 The previous free weight area at the northwest corner of the gym's third floor was not only bigger than the new one, it just had better ambiance. The people using it on a regular basis enjoyed it. The "new" free weight area has cannibalized the previous Cybex treadmill room. The entire gym downsizing process is the opposite of what thousands of gym member customers have been trying to tell the gym's management for years, but the gym management has never listened.

#2 This is probably the most egregious of the gym management's lies. Basically, this idiotic gym is all but abandoning strength training equipment. People join gyms because gyms have thousands and thousands and dollars worth of training equipment that only a billionaire with room for a home gym could afford as an individual. Seattle Executive Fitness management has left only a half dozen, token, pieces of Cybex VR3 strength training machines on the third floor, but not enough for anyone to use for a reasonable strength machine oriented workout of any kind. Removal of the strength straining equipment, more than any other ridiculous change at the gym, spells total doom for Seattle Executive Fitness.

#3 What the dedicated personal trainer area is really about, is trying to focus members of paying for expensive private sessions with their staff, because they don't have enough members paying monthly dues to in pay their rent and employee wages.

#4 The floor space reduction not only axed the popular kickboxing studio, that gear is supposedly going to be cluttering up the aerobics studios, getting in the way of people trying to do something different. Obviously, there are going to be same number of group classes competing for the space in the reduced number of group studios.

#5 They are apparently going to remodel the group class studios, creating a smaller spin class room. The members whose primary reason for a gym membership is spin classes are very unhappy about this.

#6 THE WOMEN'S GYM IS GOING BYE-BYE!!!  A huge segment of this gym's membership population is women who use the women's only gym almost exclusively. Most importantly the LifeFitness strength training machines in the Women's gym has a lighter set of weight plates in each machine that the machines on the third floor don't/didn't. Didn't is the opertive word, since most of the strength training machines are now gone from the third floor too!

After years of alienating their gym members one at a time, the people who run Seattle Executive Fitness have finally found a way to alienate everybody else who has remained a member in the naive hope that company management might some day see the light. The light that members are seeing these days is the exit sign, signalling to them that its time to just cancel their memberships, quit, and find another gym, one that at least has gym equipment.

October 8, 2013

AllStar Fitness, Before Its Destruction Under Ownership by Merle Gregg as Seattle "Executive" Fitness

The photos below show what some of AllStar Fitness looked like three years ago, before Merle Gregg took over, turned it into Seattle "Executive" Fitness, and has step by step destroyed just about everything it once was.

The first three year old photo below provides a view from the cardio fitness section all the way to the west end of the building, which was where the free weights room was until recently. At the far end, the gym used to extend around the corner to the left where there was a kickboxing studio at the southwest corner of the third floor.

Back then, there were three sets of equipment in the circuit training area between the cardio section and the free weights section. One set of strength training equipment was a grouping of Cybex VR3 (second tier of the Cybex line but very functional) circuit training machines. There was also various LifeFitness Signature Series strength training machines intermingled with them. Some of the LifeFitness machines were the newer Signature Series models, but some were also functional, but nearly twenty year old, machines. Both the older and newer LifeFitness strength machines remained until a most of the circuit training area midway down the hall in this photo, was walled off, no longer a part of the gym. In the photo below, at left center, a group of ancient Nautilus brand circuit training was still present before Merle Gregg took over. The old Nautilus brand equipment was removed in the summer of 2011 at the very beginning of the ownership change.

This second photograph shows the once well organized treadmill room at AllStar Fitness, before Merle Gregg got control of it.

When the gym at 509 Olive Way was owned by AllStar Fitness, the portion of the gym that connected the Cybex treadmill room with the main cardio fitness area was occupied by a well organized, large selection of Precor treadmills and Precor elliptical training machines. In this midst of the ownership dispute between Merle Gregg and Sam Adams in late summer 2011, a significant portion of this equipment suddenly disappeared, and it never returned, and was never replaced by any new equipment either. Today what is left of the cardio equipment on the third floor of the gym at 509 Olive Way, are models of old cardio training machines that aren't even manufactured anymore. They appear to range in age from six to as much as ten years old, with many of them in constant need of repair because of their age.

Three years ago, the main cardio fitness area at what used to be AllStar Fitness was well organized, spacious, and adequate room between each piece of equipment, and accessible even for many disabled people.

After over two years of decline, deterioration, and mismanagement, the inadequate space that is left at the gym now known as Seattle "Executive Fitness, is a completely disorganized mess. The name of the place should probably be - Seattle Skid Row Fitness.

October 5, 2013

As An Indication of the Apparently Desperate Financial Times at Seattle Executive Fitness, Two Thirds of the Third Floor Workout Space is Gone!

The latest sign of financial desperation at Seattle Executive Fitness (SEF), is that the company has reduced the size of its third floor workout out area by nearly two thirds! Most gym members have developed the impression this is a sign that Seattle Executive Fitness may be taking its last desperate gasps before complete financial collapse. This is the third time Seattle Executive Fitness has given floor space back to its landlord at 509 Olive Way in a series of desperate attempts to save on fixed costs such as space rental.

The first wave of space reductions came about a year ago when Seattle Executive Fitness reduced the size of its stretching floor by half. At the same time SEF made part of what was the circuit training area a stretching floor and crammed the circuit training equipment that was there into what was left of the stretching room. The second wave of space reductions, an even more obvious attempt to cut costs, when removal of the formal street level entrance lobby on the first floor. The Seattle Executive Fitness gym at 509 Olive Way no longer has its own separate entrance. Instead, the gym requires members to enter through the main lobby of the building, past a forlorn looking reception desk.

The bottom line is that two thirds of the third floor workout area is now gone! The floor space that Seattle Executive Fitness has given back to its landlord used to include:
  • its large free weight workout area
  • its hammer strength workout area
  • its selectorized weight machine circuit training area
  • its previous stretching and calisthenics floor
  • its large kickboxing studio at the southwest corner of the third floor
What remains is a cramped, disorganized, shambles that has three sections: a small stretching/toning floor area; a cramped and claustrophic cardio training area, part of which has a few plate selectorized circuit training machines, but not enough to be useful; and a new smaller free weights room which was previously the Cybex treadmill room with HDTVs. Please check back soon for more details about everything that is happening, and what it likely means for SEF members and the what seems like the impending demise of this once palatable gym that only needed minor improvements to be a first class facility. It is just sad, sad, sad, that this gym's management has never listened to its customers, and is instead going in the opposite direction of what the majority of the gym's customers have wanted for years. Unfortunately, this sad turn of events doesn't come as too much of a surprise really, since the gym's owner, Merle Gregg, has run every gym he has managed over the years into the ground, and into one form of ruination or another.

Here's a photo of the wall blocking off what was once two thirds or more of the third floor workout facility at the Olive Way Seattle Executive Fitness location.

blocked off wall of reduce third floor workout area

September 20, 2013

WARNING: Yet another "Supplement" is causing lethal liver failure!

Over the course of the past couple decades, hundreds of so called "supplements" for "weight loss" and "fat burning" have murdered thousands of people because they have contained lethal substances that have caused
major organ failures such as liver failure and kidney failure. Since the U.S. Congress completely deregulated the supplements business in 1996, the industry has become a wide open field for "snake oil" peddlers. Please, don't take such gimmick products! They don't and can't accomplish any of the inflated and often fraudulent claims they make.

The latest of these lethal junk pills that is reportedly killing people is called OxyELITE Pro. The Centers for Disease Control has issued the following report:

On September 9, 2013, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) was notified of seven patients with severe acute hepatitis and sudden liver failure of unknown cause. The patients were previously healthy and sought medical care from May through September 2013. Clinicians reported that the seven patients had all used OxyELITE Pro, a dietary supplement marketed for weight loss and muscle gain, prior to illness onset.

The investigation is ongoing and the data presented are preliminary. Thus far, clinicians have reported 45 patients to the Hawaii DOH in response to a public health alert. Of those, 29 patients, including the original seven, were confirmed to have acute hepatitis after using a nutritional supplement for weight loss or muscle building. The median age of the 29 patients is 33 years; 14 (48%) are male. The date of the first reported laboratory test was used as a proxy for illness onset and ranged from May 10 through October 3, 2013. The most commonly reported symptoms included loss of appetite, light-colored stools, dark urine, and jaundice. Median laboratory values reported at the peak of illness were the following:

aspartate aminotransferase (AST) 1,128 IU/L;
alanine transaminase (ALT) 1,793 IU/L;
alkaline phosphatase 150 IU/L; and
total bilirubin 12.6 mg/dL.

Please protect your health and your life by simply avoiding all such quick fix products. They don't work, and many just kill instead. Once people show up at emergency rooms with acute organ failure, their lives are virtually over. Their best hopes for prognosis is usually the nightmare of organ transplantation, and taking cancer causing anti-rejection drugs for the remainder of their seriously compromised lives. Please, don't be one of those casualties. There aren't any quick fixes. High levels of fitness require significant time, invested on a regular basis in order to achieve and/or sustain results. 
Meanwhile, the only reasonable supplements to take are:
  • a quality multivitamin,
  • antioxidants like Vitamin C,
  • and a few minerals like calcium and magnesium.
The best nutrition on earth comes from a diet focused on the freshest fruits and vegetables. Eat the entire fruit or vegetable, to get the fiber in them. It is often important to eat the skins of fruits vegetables, because that is where many of them store a large portion of their nutrients. Whether its potato skin, orange or lemon zest, or apple skin, fruit and vegetable skins contain many good qualities. Add some lean protein, whole grains, and olive oil, for a complete diet that can be optimized for anyone.

June 5, 2013

The Sound of an aging Cybex Treadmill in need of Serious Maintenance

This is what an aging Cybex brand treadmill sounds like when it hasn't been maintained or serviced for years. The sound of the treadmill in this video seems loud enough to nearly shatter someone's ear drums. Seriously, that isn't a jack hammer being used inside the gym, that astoundingly loud pounding sound is that Cybex treadmill. As with much of the equipment at Seattle Executive Fitness, the Cybex brand treadmills are all an aging discontinued model that is so old the machines don't even include individual cardio theater. But like much of the equipment at Seattle Executive Fitness, treadmills like this one often go months or even years without service or repair. For reference, the current Cybex brand treadmills look like the models at this link. All of them have optional individual cardio theater systems, as well onboard virtual mapping features and full LCD, displays, not the ancient dot matrix style LED displays on the aging treadmills at Seattle Executive Fitness. Meanwhile, Seattle Executive Fitness members are stuck using equipment, some of which is nearly a decade old, completely out of date, and constantly in need of repair. The aging equipment is just part of what makes Merle Gregg's Seattle Executive Fitness a one star gym on instead of the five star gym it could be with modern equipment and a reasonable list of other improvements.

April 25, 2013

Hart's Athletic Clubs - The Long and Corrupt History of Fitness Clubs in Washington State

Washington State residents have suffered through a long history of corrupt athletic/fitness clubs that have committed numerous types of unlawful and illegal business practices. Since as long ago as 1994, the Washington State Attorney General has been going after athletic clubs for their fraudulent practices, behaviors that violate the state Unfair Business Practices Act, as described in this 1994 Seattle Times article (see link). That 1994 Seattle Times story stated in part that:

Most of the complaints aren't about fitness or exercise, but about sales, billing and collection practices that often leave health-club members without facilities - and in some cases without refunds - that they say they were promised.

The attorney general's office said it received 408 complaints about health clubs from January through August, a rate that would produce about 612 complaints for the full year. That would be 34 percent above the 457 complaints received through all of last year. Complaints totaled 465 in 1992.

One of the more notorious such clubs was the defunct Hart's Athletic Clubs, which were owned by Richard W. Hart of Bellevue, WA. Hart was infamous for his hard sell used car salesman style television commercials that advertised his facilities with too good to be true offers and deals. Eventually, after years of corrupt and illegal activities, Hart and his clubs signed a consent decree with the State Attorney General and agreed to pay $52,000 in attorneys fees and $250,000 in penalties after being sued by the state for systematic deceptive business practices.

In 1995, at that same time Hart Athletic Clubs was sued, three other Washington State athletic clubs were also sued by the State Attorney General, and all paid similar civil fines and attorneys fees to the state. One was a company called Four Corners Health Club that did business under the trade name LivingWell Lady. The other two were Bell-Fit, Inc., and Cascade Athletic Clubs. The LivingWell Lady franchise was eventually barred from doing business of any kind anywhere within Washington State. A brief 1996 Seattle Times story about the end of the LivingWell Lady saga is available here (see link).

The systemically corrupt practices those companies used to defraud customers resulted in the Washington State legislature enacting a set of statutes that require Athletic/Fitness Clubs in Washington State to operate within the rules that set of statutes defines. Unfortunately, even with the current statutes that restrict Athletic Club businesses in Washington State, most such businesses have continued to their unlawful and illegal business practices.

Twenty years later, it doesn't seem like much of anything has changed around the Puget Sound area, as fitness clubs like Seattle Executive Fitness, Vision Quest Fitness, and others, are using the same fraudulently deceptive business practices as part of their desperately illegal attempts to attract and retain customers. These unscrupulous businesses use a variety of illegal scams to bilk customers out of their hard earned money. One of the scams is to offer a prepaid membership and then charge customers monthly dues prematurely, so that the prepaid deal doesn't provide any savings at all. For example, multiple times over the course of various years Seattle Executive Fitness has advertised a - prepay for a full year and get two full years of membership. However, numerous members report that Seattle Executive Fitness illegally began charging them monthly dues after the end of the first year, in breach of the club's contractual obligation. Another scam that gym's use is to make membership cancellation as difficult as possible, and then continue charging customers after they've cancelled their memberships. A third scam might be dubbed the zombie membership, in which a club in conspiracy with ABC Financial, their billing processor, startup automatic debit/withdrawal of monthly dues from the account of member with a cancelled membership, hoping that in these days of debit cards nobody balances their checkbook or carefully studies monthly statements to notice the monthly fees being withdrawn illegaly, until months have gone by, and often hundreds of dollars have been stolen from the former customer's bank or credit card account. What these gyms don't seem to realize, is that once these customers and former customers become aware of the extent to which they've been financially victimized, they communicate their irate feelings to everyone they know, insuring that none of those people will ever make the mistake of getting involved with the predatory gym that stole from their friend.

Every gym member and prospect gym member should be aware that gyms and fitness trainers are both regulated by state statutory laws. However, most Washington State athletic clubs and athletic trainers appear to violate the state laws that regulate them with impunity. Washington State athletic/fitness clubs are called - Health Studio Services - under the set of state statutes that govern them, RCW Chapter 19.142. The Athletic Trainers which athletic clubs generally call Personal Trainers are called Athletic Trainers under state law and are regulated by RCW Chapter 18.250. Washington State gym members should get informed and be prepared for the various scams their gym is likely to try.

Links Related To This Article

Athletic Trainers - RCW Chapter 18.250

Health Studio Services - RCW Chapter 19.142

Related Seattle Times Articles

April 23, 2013

Seattle Executive Fitness Entrance Becomes a Weight Watchers

There are indicators everywhere that Seattle Executive Fitness owner Merle Gregg is in dire financial straits and is taking desperate measures to save money as he gradually destroys a workout facility that was once a pretty nice place. When Seattle Executive Fitness opened years ago as AllStar Fitness (now bankrupt), the gym had a street presence with a separate first floor entrance way and member lounge area. Over the course of the past six months or so, Seattle Executive Fitness owner Merle Gregg has allowed the landlord at 509 Olive Way to reclaim multiple portions of the gym's space for lease to other tenants. There doesn't seem to be any reasonable conclusion to reach other than financial desperation by Merle Gregg, trying to reduce his monthly rental expense obligation as his failing business hemorrhages cash each month. Ironically, the more he scrimps and neglects the core of his business, the workout facility and services, the less attractive his gym becomes to its current members and the prospective new members his business needs in order to stay afloat. 

Many months ago, Merle Gregg reduced the size of the main third floor workout area. The space Merle Gregg gave back to the Olive Way landlord used to be half of the stretching and personal training area. That area has now been taken over by a florist shop that also used to have a street level presence on the first floor, but is now only accessible through the third floor atrium area that now seems to be a public part of the building. It is hard to imagine how that florist shop is going to survive without a street level retail presence.

Over the course of the past couple of years, dozens upon dozens of consumer reviews of Seattle Executive Fitness on have given Merle Gregg suggestions on how to make his gyms the best they can be. Merle Gregg gives the appearance that he has simply ignored the suggestions provided him by the customers who generate the revenue his business needs to succeed. Instead of staying focused on building and maintaining a quality place to workout, Merle Gregg has either ignored customer suggestions, or done things that seem deliberately self destructive to his business. It is amazing how many members of his gyms over the years have said that if he just put effort into making his gym a good place to workout, with honest business practices, it would go from a place whose customers complain on to a thriving fitness center that would be the prime choice of people who work and live in downtown Seattle. 

511 Olive Way will soon be a Weight Watcher's franchise

Slow progress on the Weight Watcher's franchise leasehold improvements.

April 17, 2013

Seattle Executive Fitness Members: Shoo Shoo, Go Away - We Are A Completely Unfriendly Customer Abusive Establishment

When buddies have finished their workouts and feel like sitting around to chat for a little while after a couple hours of getting their sweat on, the people who operate Seattle Executive Fitness want them to know that their establishment is definitely not the friendly, cozy place to do it. The owner/managers of Seattle Executive Fitness have recently begun posting signs around the sections of the gyms that have seating areas telling members they are not welcome to sit there more than thirty minutes. The sign below is a good example of this sort of member harassment and threats being posted on the walls at Seattle Executive Fitness by its management. Anyone considering a membership with this company, whose reputation as an unscrupulous establishment is already hopefully well known, should probably reconsider.

One of the many reviews of this gym on also takes specific notice of the relatively recent appearance of these socially abusive signs at Seattle Executive Fitness. The screen shot of the reviewer's thoughts as expressed below probably speaks for itself.  However, in case the screen shot text is too small, the member wrote in part that:

... someone on the management team really likes to write passive-aggressive notes and post them all over the gym.  I'm not exaggerating when I say these notes are everywhere--on the walls, in the bathrooms, in the locker rooms, in the stairwells, and on every doorway, patrons are greeted with threats of reduced services and permanent expulsion from the gym for using too many towels, opening the wrong door, or hanging out for too long in the tv area.  We are paying customers, not children, but all the notes make it feel like a kindergarten.  ... because being assaulted with "rules" everywhere we turn pisses off those of us who already follow them.

It should be noted that although there are 46 reviews of this particular Seattle Executive Fitness location displayed by default on, there are also a whopping sixty-eight (68) reviews that has hidden. However, the hidden reviews contain a wealth of detailed information about what has transpired at Seattle Executive Fitness over the past couple years, one repulsive incident after another, (see this link).

April 16, 2013

The Current Seattle Executive Fitness Entrance ...

When Merle Gregg took over the gym at 511 Olive Way from its previous owner, Bob Padgett, when its brand was AllStar Fitness, the gym had its own separate entrance from the medical/dental building entrance at 509 Olive Way, in downtown Seattle, WA. It was apparent at the time that Bob Padgett and his five AllStar Fitness locations were in serious financial trouble. Bob Padgett sold the two downtown Seattle locations to Merle Gregg and Sam Adams who at that time together owned Epicenter Fitness. Bob Padgett later sold his Olympia, WA, and Portland, OR AllStar Fitness locations, leaving just his West Seattle location, which recently went bankrupt. 

Makeshift plastic taped  over Allstar Fitness signage
Meanwhile, Sam Adams and Merle Gregg's business relationship deteriorated and Merle Gregg apparently bought out the interest the Adams brothers had in the business. Then he rebranded and reincorporated the business as Seattle Executive Fitness in the fall of 2011. Members of the gym had great hopes that Merle Gregg would reinvent his business practices too, develop his company into a gym that Seattleites could enjoy. It wasn't long during late 2011 though, before it became apparent that Merle Gregg wasn't going to do much except try to change his stripes, but he was still the same cheapskate business predator.

As the many articles on this site describe and illustrate in detail, one after another, every indicator, small and large, demonstrated that the condition of the gyms owned by Merle Gregg wasn't going to get better, it was going to get worse. One example of this was the failure of Seattle Executive Finess management failed for a long time to change the signage and corporate image over from AllStar Fitness at all. In fact, to this day, the AllStar Fitness sign high above the street along Fifth Avenue remains. During the interim, instead of investing in appropriate, professional signage, Merle Gregg, left a temporary plastic sign over the AllStar Fitness signage, until finally, the financially troubled business capitulated the ground floor retail space back to the landlord of the Olive Way building. That space is now being transformed into a Weight Watcher's franchise. 

The consequence is that Seattle Executive Fitness no longer has a street level presence or external signage. Anyone passing pay in a car or a bus probably wouldn't ever notice that the business was there. People who here about it by some other means, might have trouble finding it even while standing outside the building near its entrance. Taken together with all the signs and symptoms of trouble at Seattle Executive Fitness, the reduce entrance way presence does not seem like a very good indicator of the fitness of this fitness business. 

Click on any of the pictures here to see a larger version of any of these photographs.

April 12, 2013

The Rock Climbing Wall at Seattle Executive Fitness Appears to be Off Limits To Members!

Quite recently the following sign appeared on the door that leads to the artificial rock climbing wall area at Seattle Executive Fitness. The sign gives the appearance that the rock climbing wall is no longer accessible to members of the gym. Ironically, the area that includes the rock climbing wall is apparently a publicly accessible area, that can be accessed by anyone who enters the medical dental building from the street, to get to the newly relocated florist shop and the small cafe and restaurant that have always been there.

Sign on door to Rock Climbing Wall Area
This sign seems like another aspect of the ongoing decline of Seattle Executive Fitness into mismanaged oblivion. The text of the sign reads:

This is an emergency exit only 
- Alarm will sound -
If you enter or exit this door for anything other than an emergency you will not be allowed back in this facility at any time in the future!

The sign also provides a purview of the personality of the gym's owner, Merle Gregg, given that the sign makes an ultimate threat of termination from the building, which would surely include termination of employment for staff members and termination of membership for a gym member. Then of course the terminated gym member would likely still be stuck with Seattle Executive Fitness and ABC Financial continuing to debit their credit unlawfully.

Taken altogether, this sign is just another of the dozens upon dozens of indicators to anyone who is either a current member of this gym, or who is considering membership at this gym, that they should be very wary. This gyms's unlawful business practices, and the unlawful and often fraudulent tactics used by this gym's owner seem like clear indications that anyone who joins this gym is in for an extremely negative experience.