Gym members were surprised to walk in last week to find new signage and other tell-tale signs of new ownership at Moorpark Athletic Club (MAC), the city's largest neighborhood gym.
A neighborhood fixture for the past nine years, MAC has undergone quite a few changes in ownership, according to John Ovanessian, owner of Body Xchange, the group that took over.
"We did not purchase MAC," said Ovanessian. "They were getting foreclosed on so we took over the space."
The Bakersfield-based company owns and manages nine gyms, eight of which are in Bakersfield and one in Simi Valley.
"This is our first take-over," said Ovanessian, who started his career at another fitness chain, 24-Hour Fitness. "We started and opened our nine gyms from scratch."
According to Ovanessian, all of Body Xchange's nine gyms are profitable. With MAC, he has plans in place and changes to implement to make it more financially secure.
"We had to make a lot of tough decisions and do some cutbacks - trim down the number of classes, let go of some employees...," he said. "... it's like starting from square one as we re-do the club."
"But we're fixing something that was broken before and save it for the long run," he said.
Current member Jeff Bermont has a few suggestions.
"I hope they update the equipment and remodel the locker rooms," he said.
Bermont was also disappointed to find out that the gym got rid of towel service.
"We now have to pay to use a towel," he said. "But I know it takes time to rebuild, so let's see what happens."
On the club's Facebook page, some members have expressed their displeasure over the new schedule, among others. One member wants her Thursday night Step and Sculpt class back while one asked what kind of class Power Pump is.
Ovanessian explained that after the 30-day switch-over period in mid-June, current gym members can start using the Body Xchange gym in Simi Valley, one of many exciting changes to watch out for.
"We are just asking for patience during this transition," said Ovanessian. "There will be growing pains as expected but stay tuned for a nicer, newer and better-run facility."
Meantime, there will be no membership cancellations or rate increases, assured Ovanessian. All memberships including previous purchases of personal training sessions will also be honored.
Ovanessian added, "Just give us a chance and let our work moving forward speak for itself."
Emails and phone calls to former MAC owner Lewis Herms were not returned.