Spa Lady in Towson abruptly closes after owner loses lease on the building Members allowed to use other chain locations

facility to reopen soon

January 23, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Members of the Spa Lady in Towson are feeling the burn, after the exercise club shut down without warning.

"You come down here one day and everything is fine, and the next it's closed," said Lora Unkle of Cockeysville, who wanted to work out at the club yesterday.

KasMas Management of Towson, owner of the club that was used by 75 to 100 people a day, lost its lease on the building at 1313 York Road after falling behind on the rent, a company official said. The club closed Friday, and members who came over the weekend found doors locked and a notice saying, "These premises have been taken over by the landlord."

Jim Fecca, KasMas vice president of operations, said club members can work out at any Baltimore-area Spa Lady at no additional cost until a new facility is opened in the Towson-Timonium area.

The Spa Lady chain was started in Fairfax, Va., in 1979 as a women-only exercise club, and at least three dozen club owners have had to close or sell their operations over the years. The Towson facility also closed briefly without warning more than a year ago, when the previous owner, Club Management Corp., ran into financial difficulties.

Mr. Fecca said the Towson club is the only one owned by KasMas, although he operates the five other Baltimore-area clubs for other owners.

Alison Gillespie of Cedarcroft thought she had checked out the club thoroughly before signing up for a two-year membership in November. She had talked to longtime members and inspected the equipment.

"I combed over that contract so carefully," she said. "This really fell out of the sky."

Under state law, athletic clubs must post bonds or letters of credit as high as $200,000 to cover membership refunds if the clubs run into financial trouble.

Although members are eligible for refunds if a club closes permanently, they probably will not be able to get their money back if the closing is temporary or if the club relocates in the same area, said Ivy Berney, a mediation supervisor in the Maryland attorney general's office.

At least one health club was trying to win over dissatisfied Spa Lady customers. Olympus Fitness and Aerobics, which opened last month in Owings Mills, was offering Spa Lady members $150 discounts if they switched allegiances.

Mr. Fecca said he hopes to reopen the Towson Spa Lady in another location within a few weeks. Meanwhile, members who left personal items at the club should contact KasMas offices at 560-9030 to make arrangements to get their property.

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