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Date of Issue: August 16, 2007

AMI Fitness closes

Closed, but maybe open
The sign on the door of AMI Fitness at 5417 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach was posted at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 9 advising members that the center was "closed for reorganization," but would reopen "ASAP." Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

AMI Fitness in Holmes Beach (the former Island Fitness Center) closed its doors Aug. 9, but owner John Belsito said he plans to financially reorganize and get back in business as soon as possible.

According to a notice Belsito posted on the door of the club, members were told that, “If you have a contract with Fusion Fitness, please feel free to go to the Manatee Avenue location.”

The notice continued that automatic payments for membership would be stopped and any payments made during the last week of July “will be reimbursed for time not used. The gym will reopen ASAP,” the notice concluded.

Some members were clearly unhappy over the sudden closure.

“They just took all our money and didn’t pay the rent,” claimed member Doug Newcomer.

He said it was his understanding that Belsito leased the business to Fusion Fitness several months ago, but when issues arose between Belsito and Fusion, Belsito came back to maintain the operation.

Newcomer said he had heard the business would close for reorganization and refinancing, but the published notice on the door gives members little information or faith in the future.

“It was supposed to close on Aug. 11, so I don’t know what happened,” he said.

Belsito declined to discuss the Fusion arrangement, but was upbeat that he would re-open the business for Islanders and pledged that anyone who had paid their August membership would receive a credit.

Anybody who joined the club when it operated as Fusion Fitness “will have to take it up with them,” he said.

Fusion Fitness on Manatee Avenue is accepting the annual memberships paid at the Island location, Belsito said. “I’ve sold no annual memberships. Everything with me is month-to-month.”

A spokesperson for Fusion Fitness at 6500 Manatee Ave. W. said that if a person originally signed up with Fusion Fitness, those agreements would be honored at the Manatee Avenue location.

Although Belsito closed the business, it’s only a temporary measure, he said. Belsito was confident of a reopening in the near future. His objective is to “reorganize and reopen. I want to do what’s right.”

He noted that when Fusion Fitness reorganized, it was closed for 10 weeks before reopening.

“Hopefully, we won’t be closed very long,” he asserted.

While Newcomer and other members were unhappy with Belsito’s operation, he has his proponents. One man, who asked not to be identified, said Belsito went into partnership with the operators of Fusion Fitness, but it just didn’t work out. Belsito was trying to do the “right thing” when he returned to operate the club as AMI Fitness.

“He tried to make this work after he took it back. I know he’s going to look to get financing and re-open,” the man said.

According to the Florida Department of Commerce, Belsito owns Sunrise Landings LLC, which operates AMI Fitness. Sunrise sold the building to Reliance Property Group LLC - owners of the Tidemark Resorts - in March 2006 for an estimated $2 million.

Lance McNeill of RPG said he had talked with Belsito prior to the closure and wished him well on his reorganization plans. “Our hope is that he gets reorganized and that members who paid in advance get a refund,” said McNeill.

RPG is only the landlord and is not associated with the operation of the business, McNeill noted.