Uproar at Toronto gym over membership fees results in flurry of one-star reviews
A luxurious gym in Toronto has come under fire this month after several of its customers alleged their membership prices were unfairly hiked without proper communication.
Altea Active, located on the second and third levels of the Novus residential building in Liberty Village, is a social wellness club that offers 185+ classes a week.
The 89,000-square-feet fitness centre comes with five boutique studios, a Starbucks, smoothie bar, restaurant, sports lounge, and a 25-metre lap pool.
Several readers alerted blogTO of what they called a "classic bait and switch" situation at the fitness centre, alleging that the gym "unexpectedly" upped membership fees by a high rate for its founding members.
"Members have been duped with classic bait and switch and they are flooding their online reviews," one reader told blogTO. "Everything we signed up for, the promises made, they are not honouring because the gym [is at] capacity so [they are] trying to get rid of existing members at lower rates to collect additional enrolment fees and lock people in at higher rates."
The fitness centre also received an onslaught of negative Google Reviews following the membership rate changes.
"Don't get me wrong, this gym is awesome. But their decision to up their rates (over 25 per cent for myself and other founding members) as a punishment to supporters of the gym well before they opened the doors is just a massive slap in the face," one person wrote.
"Today I got a lovely email from Altea informing me that my rate is increasing by over 25 per cent due to 'inflation' and other rising costs," another person wrote in a social Facebook group for the gym's patrons.
"I totally get that prices go up, so willing to accommodate for an increase but 25 per cent plus is just ridiculous, especially for founding members that supported this club from the start."
Altea Active has been responding to the negative Google reviews, encouraging people with concerns to reach out to the gym's email.
"I heard others saying their rates went up by 10 per cent. Mine are increasing by over 20. Pretty pissed off how this is possible. They have communicated to me verbally that it would be a reasonable increase close to 3 per cent," another person wrote in the Facebook group.
"I don’t mind that a good gym is charging more. However I do feel some accountability needs to be had for verbally communicating with multiple people that rates would be increasing at a much slower rate. Something about that doesn't sit right with me," one gym patron wrote.
"I just signed up last month and was told that it would go up by [a] couple of dollars. I asked the guy three times on how much it would be - and he assured me just two to three bucks. $16 hike per month is too much. These guys need to be reported," another person said.
Vice President of Marketing/Partner at Altea Active David Nash told blogTO that the gym's decisions are guided by "what we feel is best for the overall community and its members."
Some recent changes at the gym include increased studio fitness class (now at 208 classes per week) to support heightened demand, and implementing membership caps and limiting guest passes to lower demand times to protect members.
"Like most businesses, Altea Active has been significantly impacted by inflationary pressures," Nash told blogTO. "The rate increase allows Altea to provide a decent wage increase to all our team members, and to maintain focus on delivering the best possible member experience."
According to Nash, a membership rate increase will be applied as members reach the end of their one-year term, and the adjustment of $8 represents less than a 9 per cent increase based on current rates.
"The rate adjustment was the same for all members regardless of when they joined, or which level of membership they have," Nash explained. "In our opinion, treating all active member[s] the same, was the most balanced and fair option."
Altea Active is located at 65 Ordnance Street in Liberty Village.
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