How I Helped Break The Story On 509 Fitness
You may have heard in the local news recently about the owner of 509 Fitness in Kennewick being charged with theft, stemming from the abrupt closing of the gym last March. I was the ‘first’ to discover it had closed.
Jason Sleater, owner of the now closed 509 Fitness on Colorado, has been charged with theft. Seems he charged 375 members, through the automated billing system, a ‘facilities upgrade fee’ that netted him over $7,000 last March. Problem is, just a few days later, the gym suddenly closed without warning. Sleater had promised to pay it back, but apparently never did. He will be arraigned Jan. 19th. If found guilty, probable restitution and possible jail time. But that’s not the crux of this story.
I was the first person to learn of the gym closing, because I discovered it that Monday morning last March. I am one of ‘those’ people who like working out, a gym rat. Because of family schedule etc, I often tromp to the gym 4:45-5am weekdays. I remember driving around the corner of Deschutes and Colorado in the pitch dark, and thinking ‘weird-no lights on, and no other cars at the gym’. It was located next to the kidney center on Colorado. My first thought was, the AM person slept in. But as I hopped from my truck, went to the door, I read the big sign. Long story short, it said due to competition in the gym market, economic reasons blah blah, the gym was closed, effective immediately. My first thought was, jeez, how am I gonna get the workout in? I hung around for a few minutes until more of the “early morning people” showed up. If the KPD had driven by, it would have probably appeared to be a multi-car drug deal–all these people sitting there, talking, wondering what to do next. Most of us wandered off to other gyms, and were able to get a temporary guest pass to get us by. We knew 509 had gone through several reorganizations; it had previously been Star-Fit. But we didn’t know it was bad enough to close. But after talking to a friend who was there Sunday, he thought it was odd that late that afternoon, all the power lifters who used to exercise there were busy packing their equipment, weights, extra bars, and belts out the side freight door. Had we only known…
Since then, I have found a new gym, safe, secure, solid and in no danger of shutting it’s doors without telling anyone. But I still remember that dark March morning in 2011, standing there alone in front of the shuttered building, realizing I had just been ripped off.