Angry Total Fitness members told they won't get cash back

Clodagh Sheehy and Geraldine Gittens

Furious members of the now closed Total Fitness gyms in Dublin have been thwarted in their efforts to appoint their own liquidator to the company.

More than 300 angry gym members crowded into a room in a Dublin hotel where they had been called to attend a meeting to appoint a liquidator.

The company with gyms in Castleknock, Malahide Road and Sandyford, shut without warning two weeks ago with the loss of more than 100 jobs and leaving hundreds of gym members unable to get rebates of their fees.

Members with an overwhelming majority in a show of hands at the meeting demanded that they be allowed to appoint their own liquidator to Total Fitness 2010.

A solicitor for the company -- Marsha Coghlan -- told them, however, there were strict rules about who had enough votes for such a decision and she added that the chairman of the company had a majority and could make the appointment.

This brought cries from the floor of "why did you bring us here to the meeting when you already had a decision".

Director Graham Hollsworth in a statement read to the meeting blamed high rents for the closure and said the company had attempted unsuccessfully to renegotiate with the landlord.


Solicitor Deirdre Courtney representing the landlord said this was "blatantly untrue". The company, she added, had given the landlord just 24 hours to respond.

The landlord, she added, had responded saying he would be looking at the rents "but you guys had pulled the plug".

Mr Hollsworth admitted that the company had given the landlord a 24-hour deadline but said this had come after a long line of letters, phone calls and emails.

Asked from the floor by Brian Stewart, a member from Malahide Road, why the company continued to take fees from the public right up to the time of closure, a second director Andrew Fortune said they had not known until March 15 last that there was "no prospect of any negotiation of the rent".

Ms Courtney, who represents the landlord was also at the meeting in a personal capacity representing her daughter's school which went there for swimming lessons, pointed to the fact that in January Fingal Council paid €4.3m in compensation to Total Fitness 2010 for disruption caused by roadworks on the M50.


Stacey Varden (28) from Donaghmede forked out €605 in January, for what she hoped would be a year's access to the gym's facilities.

"I paid it all up front on my Laser card, and now I've lost it all. I came out quite angry and frustrated.

"I won't be able to join another gym -- that was all the savings I'd got and I'm very upset that I've lost all the money.

And Mary McBride (55), also from Artane, expressed her disappointment at yesterday's meeting also.

"It was a non-event. They brought us there and wasted our time. It was a complete farce as far as I'm concerned. They had no answers for us and I would consider that their apologies are worthless."