After 33 years in business, 25 of which have been at the same site, Turlock Fitness Club is looking at their last month of business as they are being forced out of their location.
Club owner Joe Moitoso said the current owners of the building terminated his lease and have opted instead to lease the site at 2705 Geer Road to Fitness Evolution.
“For 25 years Bernell Snider was the landlord and he was great,” Moitoso said. “After he passed his kids took it over and they made the decision to bring in the new tenant. It’s not illegal, but it sure smells bad.”
Moitoso said he was given five months notice. April will be the final month that the club is in business.
“They didn’t give me a chance to talk to them or match the offer, nothing,” Moitoso said. “It’s really a shame.”
Moitoso began his career in fitness 33 years ago after undergoing knee surgery and embarking on a physical rehabilitation course. He launched his first enterprise in the old Richland shopping center on E. Canal Drive and moved to a larger location on Geer a few years later. Over the years the business has grown and now includes around 2,200 members and 13 employees, Moitoso said.
“I’ve watched families come in and have seen those children grow up and come in with their own children,” Moitoso said.
Moitoso did attempt to find a new location for the facility and thought he had found a perfect spot at the old Aaron Brother’s store in the Turlock Town Center on N. Golden State Boulevard. But the plan fell through when the anchor tenant, dd’s Discounts, exercised a Covenant, Conditions, and Restrictions option in their lease.
The CCR allows dd’s Discounts approval of a tenant that is a non retail business, partially because those types of businesses could have a larger impact on parking, explained Maryn Pitt, the City of Turlock’s Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development.
“dd’s Discounts is owned by Ross and they have taken a hard line to protect their investment,” Pitt said.
“It’s too bad it didn’t work out for that spot,” Moitoso said. “We have on average about 700 people a day coming in and that would have brought some new life to that shopping center.”
Pitt said she worked with Moitoso to find a new facility, but that they just could not find a spot that met the fitness center's needs for square footage and parking.
The loss of the club has been upsetting for some of the long time members. Member Jeff Persons took the matter up at a recent Turlock City Council meeting in an effort to find a new avenue.
“We’ve committed our time, sweat — some sweat more than others — in investing in the Turlock Fitness Club,” Persons said at the meeting.
Barring some last minute change, Moitoso says he has resigned himself to an early retirement. The majority of the club’s memberships have been month to month and they have been speaking to other clubs about allowing the memberships to transfer over.
“The people who have been coming in here over the years, they’re not just customers,” Moitoso said. “They’ve changed my life.”