Man fights cancellation of 24-hour gym membership for loitering after night out

By Mitchell Hageman of

Arthur Eagle believes he was unfairly evicted from FlexFitness Hastings for staying too long, but the gym says he broke several rules.

Arthur Eagle believes he was unfairly evicted from FlexFitness Hastings for staying too long, but the gym says he broke several rules.
Photo: Hawke’s Bay Today / Paul Taylor

How much time is too much to spend in a 24-hour gym? Can you squat too much?

That’s the question on Hawke’s Bay man Arthur Eagle’s mind after what he claims was his unfair eviction from FlexFitness in Hastings after spending the night there.

Eagle, whose membership has now been canceled following the March 4 incident, claims a clause that says “all memberships include unrestricted access” was not followed and that it was discriminated against deliberately

But the gym manager has a different story. He claims Eagle broke several gym rules and was loitering, leaving him with no choice but to terminate his membership.

It started simply enough.

Eagle signed up for a month’s membership at FlexFitness Hastings to boost his fitness before embarking on a series of excursions around Aotearoa.

But he said it soon became clear he was not welcome after his exercise patterns and actions – often late into the night and in at least two cases, all night – were scrutinized by staff.

He said he was told his presence was “making the other members uncomfortable”, but claimed he was minding his own business and not breaking any rules or codes.

“Would you rather have TVs, lights and speakers on for no one all night?”

He claimed that the gym’s initiation of what would become a confrontation was a case of “character discrimination” and that the other members who were there virtually all night were not reprimanded.

Gym director Meryn Hemmingsen said staff members had spoken to Eagle several times about what she described as “very unusual” behavior at her gym, asking him to stop breaking the rules.

“Unfortunately, these discussions were not constructive and he did not agree to comply. Therefore, due to the violation of these rules, we had no choice but to terminate his membership.”

“It appears that I may have indicated to you that other people were also ‘pulling an all-nighter’ at our gym in Hastings. That is simply not true,” Hemmingsen said. Hawke’s Bay today.

The two clauses Hemmingsen said Eagle broke were around health and safety and not using the membership for its intended purpose.

Exercise throughout the night

Hemmingsen claimed that Eagle spent “numerous occasions” all night at the gym early in the day, “for example arriving just after midnight and leaving around 7am”.

He said that the last night he used the gym, the Eagle had been there all night, left for a while in the morning, then came back again an hour later.

“When he was working out at the gym, he wasn’t far from the whole time he was there, and some mornings when he spent time at the gym, he didn’t work out for many hours at a time.

“Our gyms aren’t a place to hang out; they’re a place to work out.”

But Eagle said he was not loitering or breaching any terms or conditions and was properly using his membership to its fullest potential.

“Working out is exactly what the gym used to be, but they, of all people, should know that muscles need rest and recovery time, especially if you’re a beginner.

“I was trying to maximize my short one-month period to strengthen and get fit for my New Zealand tour plans.”

He said Hemmingsen’s claim that he had spent the night at the gym on “numerous occasions” was inaccurate.

“It was only twice as far as I can remember, the last of which was out of my control.

“More importantly, the only reason I came back within an hour was because I thought I left my wallet behind.

“But out of consideration, they wouldn’t let me go and look for him for a few minutes while they treated me like some kind of criminal.”

Arthur Eagle said he was just trying to maximize his membership, but the gym said his behavior was

Arthur Eagle said he was just trying to maximize his membership, but the gym said his behavior was “unusual”.
Photo: Hawke’s Bay Today / Paul Taylor

Safety and security

Hemmingsen also said Eagle followed people into the gym without using a security tag.

“Our manager discovered on several occasions that he was not using the security key tag to enter the gym, but was following other people who walked past him.

“It is essential, as a gym, that we have visibility of everyone in our facility at all times. Mr. Eagle’s violation of this rule may put his own safety and that of others at risk other members”.

Eagle denied that was the case, saying he asked a few people politely, and on only two occasions, to use his card to enter the gym.

“However, I find it hard to see why I even have to defend this, especially since it wouldn’t have happened at all if they had provided a simple card that you keep in your wallet instead of having to fumble around in your purse.

“By the way, that’s what I was doing when a member of the men’s gym came over, and he was more than happy to oblige, especially since I was able to prove to him that I was a member by describing a couple of items I’d left behind in a hole.”

Different views

Eagle said he thought the gym was doing customers a disservice if others had been treated the way he had been.

He said the longer someone was at the facility, the more inclined they were to buy from FlexFitness’ vending machines, and happy customers meant more subscriptions and referrals.

“People have so little common sense these days that I find myself stating the obvious far too often.

“If I pay more for a key overnight, I don’t want to hear any complaints. Especially when I wasn’t breaking any terms or conditions.”

Can members stay 24 hours a day at a 24 hour gym?

Consumer NZ communications and campaigns adviser Abby Damen said people signing up to a 24-hour gym should be able to access it 24 hours a day.

However, they will also have to abide by the terms and rules of their gym, he said.

“If they don’t, the gym is likely to have the ability to terminate their membership. We encourage people to make sure they read and understand the T&Cs of any contract they enter into.”

– This story was published for the first time NZ Herald

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