Gym’s Owner & Shopping Center Management Exchange Words After Sudden Closure of Popular Fitness Club

June 4, 2014 8:00 am · 86 comments


Countrywood Fitness in Walnut Creek’s Countrywood Shopping Center has closed, but the battle between the owner of the gym and the management of the shopping center has just begun.

The following information, along with the pictures shown above & below are from a former member of the gym.

Not to long ago Bally’s Total Fitness shut down in the middle of the night with very little explanation provided to it’s members.

Unfortunately this has happened again. On May 30th a note was posted on the door at Countrywood Fitness that the 31st was its last day. Members were told that the owners were jacking up the rent and it was no longer affordable.

On Tuesday, a second note from the shopping center was posted.

I don’t know how many people will see it since it was posted a few days later but you may want to share since it has impacted the community.


Anybody out there frustrated with the sudden closure of the gym?

Me June 4, 2014 at 8:09 AM

And I just bought a lifetime membership. DANG

Cowellian June 4, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Years ago, we had a prepaid, multi-year family membership at the gym at Centre Concord, and they also closed down overnight. Whoever took over the gym offered us a small discount on a new membership, but we were out a lot of money.

Two Cents June 4, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Pretty unprofessional notice on the part of Countrywood. Sounds like they had some history with Mike Quinata, huh? In any case, apparently Mike didn’t have enough consideration of his members to give them the courtesy of a heads up.
Lots of other places around for the members, though.

Teacher Wannabe June 4, 2014 at 8:16 AM

Sorry this happened. We were conned into a contract by Bally’s, so no tears shed when they closed.

Anonymous June 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Although I am sorry for the members of the gym with this sudden notice… I do feel as though, in particularly the notice from the shopping center owner, is not only unprofessional but childish as well.

foonman June 4, 2014 at 8:26 AM

It appears to me that these gym memberships are built on sort of a ponze scheme. They reach a saturation point and cant take in enough to satisfy cover expenses. There will be more in the future as there was in the past.

Michelle June 4, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Business is business, this was not the right way of handling it, but what else can you do.

Han Solo June 4, 2014 at 8:45 AM

This is exactly why I don’t work out.

Do you people read? June 4, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Everyone commenting on the unprofessionalism of the shopping center are obviously not reading the part where management being Mike Quinata, told members that ownership, the shopping center, was jacking up rent and that is why they are closing. Well it appears that was a lie as they haven’t been paying rent for over a year. The note is ownership making sure that the truth of the situation is out there.

mik June 4, 2014 at 8:52 AM

shame on countrywood for calling him out – very unprofessional…shame on mike for not paying his rent…
i am curious as to what this line in the letter means (nice grammer countrywood)…”countrywood did everything they could to keep him in business and but he failed” – HUH?

The Mamba June 4, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I’ve noticed that that location seems to be a revolving door of gyms, clearly the location doesn’t support enough members to keep a gym afloat. Both notices are unprofessional and embarrassing.

Wayne Landana June 4, 2014 at 8:53 AM

How is the notice from the shopping center unprofessional? They worked with this guy for a year and a half! Can’t expect free rent.

Sulli June 4, 2014 at 8:55 AM

I have been a member of Countrywood Fitness for the last few years. I am surprised by the no notice, since Mike always seemed to be someone who really cared about his members. I am not surprised, however, that it closed. It has been rare that I have gone in there and seen a new face, and it was rare that it was ever crowded at the times I went (usually in the morning before work).

LocalProud June 4, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Countrywood Shopping answered to the statement of ‘jacking up the rent’.
How they worded it (“…but he failed”) may be tacky and even grammatically erred, while annoying, isn’t the point.
You cannot sustain a tenant’s poor business model.

Hmmm June 4, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Business is business. No $/no business right? I don’t blame Countrywood at all. A year and a half is an awful long time to be making a profit at no cost. Should have kicked them out sooner.

Catlarson June 4, 2014 at 9:07 AM

So unprofessional of countrywood…ridiculousness

The location is doomed June 4, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Isn’t that like the 3rd health club in that location to close?
I know it was ‘Curves’ for awhile and then it changed again.

Smaller gyms just don’t do well in this area unless you are low-rent Fitness 19 or specialize in Cross FIt.

what a waste June 4, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Personally, I’d never waste my money on a gym, when I can exercise on my own. Even just taking a power walk with hand weights would keep me going.

anon June 4, 2014 at 9:15 AM

A year & a half — no rent payment ??

Mike knew he would close– but I guess he kept taking in money from new people…sounds like a scam to me.

He sound be publically embarrassed – so many people open gyms & have no business sense

Anonymous June 4, 2014 at 9:20 AM

From what I hear the Countrywood office has been flooded with members saying that Mike Q. told them Countryood suddenly jacked up the rent and put him out of business. That’s far from the truth and Countrywood had to clear the situation! Countrywood has always been a top notch Center and always cares about their patrons!

Anon June 4, 2014 at 9:25 AM

How unprofessional of Countrywood!! Love the grammer though. lol
The next tenants may think twice about renting the space.

just a concordian June 4, 2014 at 9:25 AM

@Han Solo

As Chris Rock so nicely put it… “If you’ve got a gun, you don’t need to work out!”
And giving that you got that blaster of yours…

Anonymous June 4, 2014 at 9:51 AM

No where on Mike’s notice did he lie. He said he lost his lease which is true. The circumstances of the lease is between him and the property manager. It kind of feels like the property manager is airing private matters between him and the gym owner. Business is business. Both parties have a business to run. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that gyms are a difficult business to be in . It is hard to make enough money to support all expenses.

Pay for service June 4, 2014 at 9:59 AM

I guess any business where you have to pay up front for services you haven’t used yet (like a membership) should always be considered a scam. No one knows what the future holds so if you buy things in advance, this is a possible result. How about someone open a gym that is pay per use? Thst way no one can lose their money!

I know that’s not a popular idea but its an untapped market…. Might be very successful!

Charles-the-cat June 4, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Countrywood, more than almost any other shopping center around here, hosts a large number of locally owned businesses. They can’t take the chance that Quinata’s lies might cost them a good new (local) tenant. So GOOD FOR THEM.

Large chain stores and franchises wouldn’t be influenced by local word of mouth so if Countrywood didn’t care, they would simply target another bland national chain as their next tenant.

dinkydau June 4, 2014 at 10:00 AM

In 1997, I joined Premier Fitness off Hwy 4 in Concord. I was the place go downhill; not replacing worn out equipment, broken light bulbs in the sauna, broken shower handles, etc. I ended my membership and joined the YMCA. It has a pool!! and sauna!! The place has been upgraded. About 4 months after I ended at Premier, the place closed.
I just don’t join small gyms or healthclubs for fearing going out of business soon.

Landana June 4, 2014 at 10:17 AM

I think this should be against law or something. If you have a written contract with a gym should get 30 day notice. They have lots of time and know that the gym will be closing, its a big f*** you to the members.

Sophia June 4, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Good for Countrywood in attempting to keep their good reputation that they have earned over the last 30+ years! The Management strives to keep long term & small business tenants happy! Glad to see they aren’t letting some POS tenant bring them down!

94598 June 4, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Maybe Bonilla or Desaulnier can sponsor a gym closing bill?

Lori June 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Pay for service@ #24 I belong to UFC in the Willows Center. I pay monthly, not locked into a contract other then I have to give 30-day notice to cancel. Been going there for about 4 years, as long as you go at off times and ignore the idiots there that are just there to pick up girls instead of work out it’s a great gym.

Aldridgefamily June 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Clearly someone likes to play victim, pay your rent and if you knew about being evicted and didn’t tell you customers but continued to collect monthly dues that somehow seem illegal and at the very least unethical. Shame on you Mr.Q

Incognito June 4, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Just remember: There are always to sides to every story.

Incognito June 4, 2014 at 11:29 AM

*two sides

Mark June 4, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Alridgefamily – let’s gain a little clarity on the facts. As I was a member at this gym, I feel like I understand a bit better the “illegal activities” you suggest.

First, as members of Countrywood Fitness, we were charged on the second day of every month – as such, the fees for May were charged on May 2. The gym closed on May 31, so no one was “scammed” out of the monthly fee.

Second, from a business model, I don’t think I would begin telling my current clients that there is a potential of closing in one month. Regardless of the situation (be it a rent hike or past due rent), I would not shepherd clients to other gyms when it may well be that my gym has the potential of still being open. It doesn’t take an MBA, which I possess by the way, to figure out this would be poor business judgement.

Finally, Mike is a good person, and I suspect that all of the “shame on you Mr. Q” talk is based on people that do not know him.

Is it an unfortunate situation that the gym had to close so abruptly? Yes – I think that it was. Were members “scammed” out of money? No – absolutely not. At most, we were charged with the inconvenience of having to find another gym, which I was able to do the very next day.

Tony Hicks June 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

I was a member and I consider Mike a friend. Owning a health club at that site is, obvious, a risk, and no one knew that better than Mike, who worked six days a week and tried expanding business to make it happen. I talked to Mike the last day it was open, and I got the feeling he was hoping to make something work at the last minute. The rebuttal posting by the center was unnecessary and completely classless. This is business and they come off like an angry child. Nevertheless, this is a loss for the community. Of the countless gyms I’ve gone to, this was the only one whose owner knew all his members first names and went out of his way to make people feel welcome. I’ll follow Mike wherever he goes.

KenInConcord June 4, 2014 at 11:54 AM

My wife and I have watch a number of gyms come and go in that location.

We have always joked that banner “under new ownership” was hung on permanent hooks on the building.

And the sign in front had letters made out of Velcro! So they could be change easily and often!!

But it’s sad to see yet another locally owned business fail.


Tony Hicks June 4, 2014 at 11:55 AM

“Same on you Mr. Q?” Really? For those experts on this chain spouting about Mike not paying his rent … are you serious? You really think he did not pay his rent for a year-and-a-half? He would’ve been evicted long ago. As a small businessman, he likely struggled in a high-rent, Walnut Creek commercial property. But talk to the man and get his perspective before you get all holy high and mighty and dare trying to shame someone else. But, what the hell, it’s the Internet. It’s not like you have to have the courage to look someone in the eye while slamming them … or even sign your real name.

Suzie June 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

there are always two sides, front and back, up and down oh, that’s four sides alteady…

Frances June 4, 2014 at 12:06 PM

People lose tjheir leases all the time, but you get 30 days notice by law and the same courtesy should have been given to the members of the Gym. Ever since it changed ownership and name it is kind of a seedy place to workout.
Linda Evans was great and women loved it!

Nelson Muntz June 4, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Tony Hicks??/ of the CCT? He works out?

Old Teacher June 4, 2014 at 1:37 PM

I agree with Tony Hicks. Mike did everything possible to keep it going. He’s not a jerk trying to scam the members. On Friday, he said he would cancel automatic withdrawals that night and he did.I have gone to that location since it was Linda Evans and his was the best setup. He knew everyone by name. It was a friendly place, not a “meet” market. I hope he can find another place nearby and I will go back. There are four gyms closer to my house, but I drove a little farther for the friendly owner and clients. The only reason I had to go to that shopping center was the gym, so I will no longer be picking up things from Safeway, CVS. The center won’t go broke because of me but one customer was lost.

NRA #1 fan and member June 4, 2014 at 1:45 PM

I have to take sides with Countrywood. As Mike Quinata is a “RENTER” of the fitness space, in my opinion Mike Quinata is 100% at fault.

I’m thinking of taking over this fitness place and opening a NRA Fitness Boot Camp

Underwood June 4, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Mike should have given notice to his members if he couldn’t pay the rent and the property owners are being immature and un-professional and should be ashamed. It’s times like these I wonder how much of a difference there is between “adults” and children not just in this country, but the world over.

NRA #1 fan and member June 4, 2014 at 1:49 PM

NRA Fitness Boot Camp where you have military and weapons training from a veteran (me).

Anonymous June 4, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Maybe some of you weren’t paying attention. He didn’t pay rent for a year and a half. I have overheard through the last year him talk about several family vacations, such as Hawaii, Disneyland/World can’t remember which, his wife and daughter going to Europe and god knows what else. If you’re really that strapped you don’t spend money like that. And all the $$$ he made working that table all day? Please. He knew exactly what he was doing. What he was not doing is fixing broken machines, turning on the heat when it was 58 degrees or turning on the air when it was 78! There were times when a half dozen machines were out for months at a time, and he blamed Countywood, now I doubt that was true! I know someone who came in a few days before he closed and he charged her credit card, well aware that he would be closing.

Atticus Thraxx June 4, 2014 at 2:43 PM

How you gonna run a fitness program with a big old beer belly, 8 th grade intellect and the personality of a goat with hookworms? You know. I’m right. You couldn’t fight your way of of a wet paper bag, could you? A mighty wind you blow NRA and it smells of Marlboro’s and dirty drawers.

anon June 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM


Maybe you weren’t paying attention. The letter does not state that he did not pay his rent. Countrywood was struggling with him. To assume that he wasn’t paying at all is stupied. Based on how his business was doing maybe they were working with him on reduced rent or rent deferments. Who knows but don’t be so quick to judge. You would be suprised at how many struggling businesses are out there.

just a concordian June 4, 2014 at 3:08 PM

@NRA #1 fan and member

But if you rent this place that will also make you a “RENTER” making you exactly what you hate, making you want to shoot what you hate, which coincidentally is yourself. Hmmm… Need help moving in?

@Atticus June 4, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Don’t even get sucked into his/her made-up NRA guy persona. It’s got to be the longest running trolling operation on and he’s just waiting for people to take the bait. He obviously has some chip on his shoulder about NRA members; enough that he would spent a disturbing amount of time making up a persona that he could then regularly play up the stereotypes of on here. Kinda’ creepy.

aj buttacavoli June 4, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Remember when Marie Callender’s closed right in the middle of the day when people where eating their meals?

@aj buttacavoli June 4, 2014 at 4:38 PM

That was a sad day. The manager in WC was incompetent and there was a lot of employee theft and bad goings on. When the new Creekside opened in Rossmoor it took away most of the business and It could not make the rent anymore either. Forecloser
WIsh they would come back to WC with new employees. I miss the food and pies

Anon June 4, 2014 at 4:45 PM

How do you not pay rent for a year and a half and not be evicted sooner if that is really the case?

twilight June 4, 2014 at 4:54 PM

@51: I was eating there with a group when it happened!

@Mark #34 June 4, 2014 at 4:56 PM

What is your take on the struggling for 1 1/2 years to get rent thing?

Snow White's Favorite June 4, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Regardless of how anyone feels, putting dirty laundry out in public is NOT OK.

Snow White's Favorite June 4, 2014 at 5:32 PM

I’m with Tony Hicks on this one. #38

Tom June 4, 2014 at 5:56 PM

My wife and I work out at different gyms (all male, all female), and this is the very reason we pay “month to month on a credit card” instead of “yearly on a debit card”, which we could easily afford.

Where my wife works out, they advise people to pay monthly even if you can afford the entire contract at once. They advice their customers of this in case they get hurt, etc.

Personally, I feel they’re protecting their customers in case the gym goes under. With the way the economy is, any business can fail. Patty also knows all her customers by name, and according to my wife, all the ladies feel like family.

But business is business, and if the rent isn’t paid, it’s time to close. It sounds like this landlord really did try to work with this guy.

Smart,Goodlooking&Debonaire June 4, 2014 at 6:23 PM

I just do not care for overweight women. It isnt my problem if you are offended.

Marianne June 4, 2014 at 6:26 PM

do you know what’s funny, Tom Hicks

Jon June 4, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Pay a little more monthly and join 24 hour fitness. No contracts and no long term commitments. Month to month

Silva June 4, 2014 at 7:13 PM

So what happened, did they tell y’all to stop eating and leave?

KAD June 4, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Silva, I was not there but remember the story. Yes, people were told to stop eating and leave even the ones that had finished eating did not have to pay for their meals.

JustMe June 4, 2014 at 7:51 PM

I was a former member of Ballys, and it was not unexpected that they closed the Pleasant Hill location. I knew that the company itself was struggling about a year in advance, that the Walnut Creek location closed, and that there was an issue with the lease for the PH location. The employees talked about it all the time.

I received a letter in the mail just before they closed, they offered me an incentive to join one of their other clubs further away, and I declined and I closed my account without any hassle. It was perhaps the best experience I’ve had with terminating a membership. I had been a member since they opened, and my rate was ridiculously low.

Atticus Thraxx June 4, 2014 at 9:28 PM

Oh… well then….never mind. Thanks for the heads up.

Abe June 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Damn Claycord, you crazy.

John H. June 5, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Mike was a fail at business.. Mike will always be a fail at business.. Mike should not attempt business again unless he is working for someone, although i wouldnt hire Mike in my business. Sorry.. you had your chance.

CereBellum June 5, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I knew Mike through a mutual friend at JMMC. Although i was never a member of his gym, I would visit from time to time to watch/talk with him while he was stretching mostly elderly men on his table. It always amazed me the way he was able to help these individuals. He was very knowledgeable about fitness, and a very like able guy. Sorry Mike!

Anon June 5, 2014 at 2:07 PM

@ John H.

You sound like the idiot that wrote the letter for the managment company. Hell, maybe you are one of the owners. “Mike was a fail at business.”

Barry Tesar June 5, 2014 at 3:48 PM

I have been a member of CountryWood Fitness for a number of years. During that time I have gotten to know Mike pretty well. I spent many hours on his bodywork table where he helped me overcome many long-standing injuries and regain a semblance of my youth. Yes, this is a down-time for Mike, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is a great healer and a great person. He did an awful lot over the years for an awful lot of people. The people at the gym love Mike. and for good reason. This reminds me of a quote from Mother Theresa: “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.” Mike, you did a lot of good and I, for one, will not forget. Thank you!

Robert June 5, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Forma Gym in Walnut Creek is offering all members of Countrywood fitness a special pricing discount, just bring your country wood fitness membership card and we will give you a free month until you figure out the gym that is best for you.

Joshua Swalwell June 5, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Forma Gym would love to have all of Countrywood’s members. Please contact me as we have a great membership deal set up.

Mr. T June 5, 2014 at 6:32 PM

I live in the CountryWood shopping Center neighborhood and over the years have gotten to know a number of the small shop-owners on a friendly basis. Now that I stop to think about it, they are all out of business. Why? Because CountryWood Center kept jacking up their rents. Just recently the Tanning Saloon closed after 25 years in their little, hole-in-the-wall location. They eventually ended up paying ten grand a month in rent, and when the lease was up, they closed rather than pay yet another huge increase.

Good heart June 5, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Good grief! Where would anyone feel sorry from someone who hasn’t paid rent for so long! Life and times are tough, but knowing your struggling and not paying your bills and still taking money from others, knowing full well this could happen! Shame on Gym owner!

Anonymous June 5, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Hey Mr. T….. They didn’t jack their rent up!! The owner of the Tanning Salon was in his 70’s and decided to retire!! Shut your pie hole!!

DAD June 5, 2014 at 9:05 PM

What goes around comes around Mike. You know what I am talking about.

Mr. T June 5, 2014 at 11:45 PM

Mr. Anonymous,
I apparently know more about why the Tanning place closed than you do. So there, you big brave bully!

RanchgirlCA June 6, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Sad to see another health club, in this location, bite the dust.

Agent June 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Mr T.,
I’m a Real Estate Broker and have been familiar with Countrywood Shopping Center since they opened in the mid 70’s. They are the original owners and have done the best job operating a Center in the area. Even when the economy hit hard a few years ago they didn’t have vacancies like all the other Centers around did. They rarely have vacancies and when they do, they fill quickly! They’re one of the most desired Centers in the area!! Not many local Shopping Centers have several tenants that have been there from day one (35 plus years). Reasons for high demand:
1. Affordable rent!! (LOWEST CAM and INSURANCE COSTS AROUND!!!)
2. The Grounds are second to none
3. Location, Location, Location!
4. Full time staff working at the Center

No other Shopping Center around has an on site property manager and full time maitenance staff that get things done in a timely manner. Countrywood Shopping Center takes pride in what they do and it shows!!

The tanning salon didn’t leave because of high rent. Age and a personal situation caused the vacancy. 😉

Mr. T June 6, 2014 at 10:04 PM

Yes, Mr. Agent, I agree it is a nice center. It is probably just coincidence, but I have happened to become friends with a lot of shopowners who have had a hard time making a profit after the rent got paid. I know this is probably a problem everywhere, and is not exclusive to CountryWood alone. The bottom line as far as I am concerened is this: the sign they put in the window was unnecessary and lacked class. This is going to make it much harder for the gym owner to start up again someplace else. The tanning salon would have been sold to a new owner, but the potential new owner balked at the proposed rent increase.

Agent June 7, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Mr T,
The gym owner doesn’t have a pot to piss in. He’s not opening anything anywhere! He inherited the gym from Frank who passed away. That’s when things went down hill. He tried to smear Countrywoods name and they weren’t having any part of it!!
As far as the tanning salon goes, it was sold a couple years ago. I’m not mentioning any names because I know them both. The take over never truly happened. There were internal problems (not rent). The new owner walked and now works at Milners. The lease was up for renewal and the original owner retired. I would stick to shopping there and staying out of the politics. Your not getting the right answers!!

anon June 7, 2014 at 11:10 PM

one of clark howard’s ten commandments. “Never pay ahead for a gym membership’. these places are in business to take your money. They don’t really want you to come to the gym.
let’s see how many gyms closed in that place. Linda evans. body beautiful was there maybe, they were at the rocco’s center, gone. clayton gym, gone.
and always keep your contract.

anon June 7, 2014 at 11:10 PM

that was just beautiful.

Mr. T June 7, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Mr. Agent. You haven’t told me anything I don’t already know. I, too, know everyone involved. However, you choose to put the most negative spin on things that you can. You apparently have never run into hard-times in your own life. If you had, you might not be so disrespectful and arrogant. I am through commenting. Goodbye!

anon June 7, 2014 at 11:15 PM

actually, there are three sides to the truth, side a , side b and the truth.

anon June 7, 2014 at 11:22 PM

gym’s need to do more to keep good class instructors. people that like classes come in specifically for the classes of a good instructor. other’s in the gym see the motivation and get involved and they get their friends involved. then the word is out how awesome the gym is. Ellen if your out there I miss your classes. antioch had it going on for a long time. they had some awesome instructors. so motivating. but they don’t get paid enough.

Connie Dobbs June 8, 2014 at 8:23 AM

#59, In that case, I’ll have more pie.

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