Two years ago, on Jan. 21, 2005, The Fitness Experience lost its way and became the second large casualty in specialty fitness retail in recent years when it filed Ch. 7 bankruptcy liquidation.
Doors were shuttered, employees fired, and executives scattered. The case strung along for months in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois, Chicago, but the court-mandated schedules and statements that lists creditors, liabilities, assets and the like were never filed. SNEWS® legal sources had told us that normally a court will dismiss a case like this after about five or six months.
For reasons unknown, The Fitness Experience's case dismissal and termination took 20 months. The case's court trustee and various attorneys did not return several phone calls and emails in 2005 and 2006 seeking explanation.
For the record, the case was dismissed on Sept. 8, 2006. But not after the trustee collected fees and expenses of nearly $53,000 and another court-appointed attorney firm administering the case collected nearly $27,000. Notices were sent to all creditors and others on file on Sept. 14, 2006, sealing the end of the case that never really went anywhere.
Several executives and managers have moved on to related positions at other retailers, while a few have left the industry:
• Former CEO Doug Pearson, Tony Howell and Joel Ragsdale are working with the fitness segment for The Great Escape based in Chicago (www.shopthegreatescape.com), which is an exclusive Nautilus dealer.
• Ray Barone, general manager, has moved among various jobs outside the industry and recently started in a regional position for Lifestyle Fitness in North Carolina. Phil Singer is managing a store for Body-Solid in Chicago, where he also serves as the retail sales trainer.
• Others such as Rich Rot, Brian Massie and Mark Mutch have moved into non-fitness industry arenas.