HomeFitnessClosing of gym on Chicago's South Side inspires members to take action

Closing of gym on Chicago’s South Side inspires members to take action

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Next month, the Morgan Park neighborhood is set to lose a gym that members say is a staple in the community.

Hundreds of gym members are banding together in hopes of stopping the closure and they’re asking local aldermen for help.

Outside of Esporta Gym in Morgan Park, Michael Brammer was doing the heavy lifting. He collected close to 1,000 signatures from fellow gym members for a petition.

“This is our voices that are screaming to keep this place open,” Brammer said.

Come April 1, Esporta, part of the LA Fitness family, will close its Morgan Park location.

“Please do not close another positive institution in the African American community,” Brammer said, reading from the petition. “We request immediate action.”

If members hadn’t already heard the news, they were finding out at the front door. A notice on the door didn’t give a reason for the closure, but it directed members to another gym more than six miles away.

“There’s no reason for them to shut this facility down,” said gym member Victor Love. “None.”

Love added, “We got seniors that are coming here that need this pool, that need these exercises, and then you come in and just shut it down. There’s been no fights here. There’s been no drama over here. People are just coming to have a better quality of life.”

The story felt familiar on the Far South Side.

“Walmart left. Then, shortly after, Walgreens left. We just had the closure of Chatham Cinema on 87th Street, and now the potential closure of a gym,” said Ald. Ronnie Mosley (21st).

The alderman said Esporta would be the fourth business in his ward to close in the last year. He called the potential closing of the gym “a big blow.”

“When we talk about the health disparities throughout our city and particularly on the Far South Side, it doesn’t bring the quality of life that we deserve,” Mosley said.

Brammer said of the gym, “It’s a community. It’s not only a place to work out, but everybody here are friends.”

Hundreds in the community hoped their voices are strong enough to save their gym.

“If we can at all have a chance at keeping this place open, we’re going to fight to keep it open,” said Brammer.

CBS 2 reached out to the parent company of Esporta and LA Fitness, but they did not immediately respond. Gym members have planned a rally for 11 a.m. on Monday outside of the Esporta in Morgan Park.

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