Bye-Bye, Bay Club

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(Graphic by Aidan Sun)

Vikesh Dheeriya, News Editor

After more than 20 years in the Palos Verdes Peninsula community, the Rolling Hills Bay Club gym shut down completely on March 31. 

The Rolling Hills location was one of 24 Bay Club gyms open throughout Southern California. 

“I was shocked, heartbroken,” Bay Club manager Nina Ayala said after first hearing about the closure. 

The exact reason for the shutdown is unknown, however, Ayala theorizes that “the CEO of the Bay Club did not like the new lease terms that the property management owner offered, so he basically said ‘forget it, we’re not going to renew it.’”

 The CEO wanted to completely “do away with the leasing,” as evidenced by his treatment of the other Bay Club locations. The El Segundo and Redondo buildings were all bought and owned by the company. The recently renovated Santa Monica property is in the same process of looking to buy the property as the Rolling Hills location. These three locations are where the current Rolling Hills Bay Club staff are being transferred to.

Because the closure news happened suddenly and without little notice, the Bay Club’s shut-down leaves many wondering if another gym will take over the current location. 

“They weren’t able to market the space,” Ayala said. “So, as far as I know, there is nothing coming in right now.”

With no gyms taking over the open location, current members will have to look elsewhere for their exercise. The most popular destination for leaving members has been Equinox, a private gym located just down the street from the Bay Club. 

Other options for members include a 24 Hour Fitness, Complete Women Fitness, Orange Theory, Core, South Bay Strength Company and Powerhouse Gym.

However, older Bay Club members can’t find a new place as easily as high-schoolers. 

“Unfortunately, the first people that came to mind were the elderly,” Ayala said. “They don’t have anywhere to go. This is their outlet.” 

 Rolling Hills has the highest median age (46) out of any town in Los Angeles. Whether it be through zumba or exercise bike classes, the older community that forms around exercise at the Rolling Hills location will not be easily relocated. 

“The people [at the Bay Club], they’re very nice,’ 80-year-old Air Force veteran and once Bay Club member Wayne Saito said. “They’re not like other gyms. They always have a smile on their face.”

Saito had been a member of the Rolling Hills Bay Club “ever since it first opened on the hill.” Saito, like many other members, value the Bay Club for its convenience. 

“I really like the short drive up and down the hill. It’s the only [gym] up here,” Saito said. “I just hope another gym like 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness comes to this area.”

The closure affects everyone on the hill, both old and young. 

“It was my main outlet for exercising and socializing on weekdays,” senior Tristan Wattson said. 

Wattson has been lifting at the Bay Club five times a week for two years as a way to complement his sport, water polo. 

“It was the combination of affordability, convenience, and quality that [made] this gym great,” Wattson said. “I was devastated when I first heard about the Bay Club closing.”

“I think everyone’s mental, physical and social livelihood depends on this place,” Ayala said. “Whether it’s the Bay Club or not, just having a gym in the heart of the community is important.”