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L.A. Fitness Won't Throw In the Towel

August 17, 2000|From Associated Press

No towel, no workout.

L.A. Fitness has begun requiring members to bring a towel if they want to work out at its 75 gyms.

The Newport Beach-based chain spends about $800,000 per year to replace towels taken by members, according to one official.

"They pay dues, but they aren't entitled to take the towels home," said David Rodriguez, general manager at L.A. Fitness in Pasadena.

The Pasadena gym orders about 300 towels per month, at about 85 cents each.

Some members are upset by the new policy, Rodriguez said.

L.A. Fitness used to provide towel service to members for an extra fee but ended it last year. One reason was that a member sued, claiming a towel she was using to wash her car scratched the vehicle, said Joe Torrecillas, a weekend general manager at the Pasadena gym.

L.A. Fitness has clubs in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Towel theft is "a huge expense for clubs," said Jay Ablondi, director of publishing at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Assn. in Boston.

Some clubs are asking suppliers to put magnetic devices in the towels to set off alarms at the door.

But most private clubs don't want to raise a fuss.

"They don't even want to hint to their members they may be stealing," Ablondi said. "They just eat the costs rather than raising an issue."

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