Watch CBS News

Row House customers left without answers, money after gym suddenly closes

Row House customers left without answers, money after gym suddenly closes
Row House customers left without answers, money after gym suddenly closes 02:48

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some local gym goers found classes canceled despite a monthly membership.

Their locations are part of a recent sale and the new owner stopped paying employees, now that the owner has sent several confusing emails promising the money will come.

It's a nationwide problem, but one that CBS 2's Sara Machi found is affecting a group of rowers in Naperville.

At Naperville's Row House, a letter on the front door for the past month explains classes are canceled after a recent sale and a new owner, MD Professional Holdings, took over September 1.

Inside, customer Maggie Mardis, a lung cancer survivor, points to the day she marked a milestone, though her rowing classes have dried up.

"A million meters," Mardis said. "I was really just so sad and kind of lost because I didn't have any other place that I worked out."

"I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of a tornado here a little bit," said Gracie Delahunty, general manager of Row House.

General Manager Gracie Delahunty made the decision to pull the plug on classes. The studio is still set up, but no customers on the $1,000 machines, because staff had been working for weeks without pay.

"It is kind of a thunderclap," said instructor John O'Haver.

A situation made more confusing, Delahunty said, by the emails that followed from MD Pro's owner, Mitch Brown.

"This was November 8: 'To everyone who blindly put faith in me to everyone who trusted my company. To everyone whose lives have been disrupted. To everyone who believes I am the devil himself,'" Brown said.

Brown talks of "hatred, exorcism, and just plain meanness" over the lack of payments, November 10, following up to say it was "another day of disappointment, anger, hatred, all of it deserved."

"It doesn't matter what the issues are. I failed all of you," Brown said.

On November 13, Brown promised another update would come shortly, but that was the last email. Delahunty said the paychecks never came and her follow-up messages went unreturned.

The issue goes beyond Naperville. Staff were told that there were about 68 stores nationwide involved in that sale.

Row House locations in Fulton Market, Old Town, and Lincoln Park all posted identical messages of "thanks" to their customer bases when the classes stopped.

Delahunty said she hopes they will re-open, though one of the last messages leaves her with little optimism.

"Enough words. Action will be slow. My apologies. A bunch of emails with hatred won't help. Emails with solutions, short term will be accepted. Talk soon." 

Delahunty said their most popular plan costs $150 per month. It's money some customers can't get back. 

CBS 2 tried reaching out to Mitch Brown several times over various methods, but have not heard back.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.