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Longevity Fitness, in a surprise move, abruptly closes doors

Women who arrived at Longevity Fitness Club and Spa at 650 12th St. last week to work out or meet friends were surprised to find the doors locked and the building dark.

Longevity member Sue Smith stands outside the shuttered club.

For more than 20 years, Longevity has been the only health club in Vero Beach exclusively for women.
The gym’s dozen or so employees first found out something was amiss when their automatic-deposit paychecks were marked “pending” and then “deleted” from their bank statements, leaving them unpaid from mid-July to mid-August, according to an employee who wishes to remain anonymous.

The same source said the manager, Alicia Castillo, abruptly decided to lock the doors last Thursday rather than let employees continue to work for no pay.
Longevity’s phone number, 772-778-6800, is still answered with a voicemail message that sounds as if the business is operating. Callers are invited to leave a message and are promised a call back within 24 hours.
“Last year the business was sold to Atec Fitness, Inc., a corporation owned by Mr. Austin Thomas, who owns and operates healthcare facilities in North Carolina,” said broker Billy Moss of Lambert Commercial Real Estate. “Unfortunately, Mr. Thomas has had personal problems and closed the facility.”
Thomas must have seen problems coming because, Moss said, Thomas hired him to list the business for sale four months ago, with an asking price of $79,000.
Richard Barattini, who previously owned the company and still owns the large building, also gave Moss permission to sell the business.
“I have several local people interested in what amounts to a great opportunity to own and operate the only ladies’ health club in the area,” Moss said. “I expect the club will reopen soon.”
Neither Barattini nor Thomas could be reached for comment.
Max Fitness, owned by Bonnie and Stephen Pfiester, which is within walking distance of Longevity at 970 14th Ln., has offered to honor all Longevity memberships at no additional cost.
“It’s enough stress to get out of your routine. We just feel if we can take away any additional stress, if we do the right thing, then God will take care of us,” Bonnie Pfiester said. The husband and wife were 50 percent partners with Longevity when Barattini owned it from 2003 to 2011, acting as the onsite managers and operators.
About a dozen women have taken the Pfiesters up on their offer to work out at Max Fitness.
Like Longevity, Max Fitness offers free child care, which will be helpful to Longevity members with children.
Pfiester admitted her health club doesn’t have all the perks that the nearly 13,000-square-foot Longevity offered, such as an all-women atmosphere and a café and smoothie bar seating 30.
“It was a special place,” she said of the shuttered gym.

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