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Gehry Tower Tenants Outraged Over 'Despicable' Gym Fee Hike

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Several renters in Frank Gehry's luxury rental tower on Spruce Street flooded the CurbedWire Inbox with the same complaint: the fees to use the gym and other amenities leapt up on very short notice. In essence, tenants were told that The Wright Fit—a company that provides high-end fitness facilities for many buildings in New York and beyond—would be taking over operations. Writes one tipster: "Back in late October, the management started sending us emails about how we should get ready to 'experience more' at the gym. Better classes, nutrition classes, and TOWEL SERVICE. We knew we were doomed." But few details were provided, and around 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday night, an e-mail went out to residents detailing the fee increase, from $500 per year to $110 per month for an annual membership or $180 for month-to-month.

The new fees took effect one day later, on Thursday the 15th, so that wasn't very much time for 8 Spruce's renters to do much about it. Acknowledged one tenant, "I know, I know. This is a total first world problem, but it's just so shitty that they're essentially price gouging because they can. It seems like they are taking advantage here. If the building wants to make more money, they shouldn't spend it on commissioning holiday murals and the like." Now many are threatening to take their exercise business over to the Lara, a rental building nearby that houses a Blink Fitness, which charges some $25/month. In response to a query from Curbed, a spokesperson said, "The initial pricing for use of the light-filled fitness rooms, pool and sun deck in the building did not reflect the actual value of these features."

Remember, this is all happening at a building where available apartments for rent range from about $2,800 for a studio to $10,500 for a three-bedroom on an upper floor.

The e-mail below, pieced together from screenshots, was sent Wednesday night, January 14, around 7:45 p.m., with the subject line "NYbG | TWF Update Your Membership Today." (Please click to see any of the parts of the e-mail bigger.)

Want more beef from the tenants? Here we go!

One tipster, in an e-mail with the subject line, "NY by Gehry uproar": "Residents at our luxury building are furious over a weasel-worded email that rescinds the gym membership many of us had built into our rent. Below. Please feel free to shame this filthy ploy for the profit making that it is."

"This is an email Gehry residents got last night concerning new amenity costs," wrote another. "Management procured a new company to run the amenity spaces, 'The Wright Fit.' They are decidedly the WRONG fit for the building. When I moved in in the fall, they were priced at $500 for yearly access to all spaces. Now that has nearly tripled. Please write an article about how despicable this is!!!"

So in response, here's the explanation from the building and gym:

The initial pricing for use of the light-filled fitness rooms, pool and sun deck in the building did not reflect the actual value of these features. Management contemplated making this shift and simply maintaining services at the same level, but decided to elevate the fitness offerings to condo quality, engaging fitness center designer Jay Wright of The Wright Fit, who operates elite fitness programs at top NYC properties including 15 Central Park West and 18 Gramercy Park, to run the New York by Gehry fitness center and pool, athletic programs and spa and wellness services. Wright, former co-owner of Peak Performance gym, has performance-based training philosophy—promoting a wide range of motion and use of peripheral equipment, a customized approach that moves beyond fixed-motion machines and a simple "cross-fit" suite. His team is offering a full class schedule with top-tier instructors (21 classes a week at the outset), personal training programs and a full range of massage and spa treatments, and will be adding children's classes and youth programs. Other upgrades include professional facilities management, workshops and seminars, towel service for gym and pool, extended pool hours, new machines and high-end peripheral equipment. Wright will be also repurposing the building's fitness spaces in stages to emphasize full range-of-motion and functional full-body workouts and fully utilize its studios, as well as expanding spa offerings.

Residents were notified in October that these changes were being made. The Wright Fit began operation in November without requiring a switch in membership. This month, residents are being reminded that they do need to officially re-up their memberships through Wright Fit.

To be fair, the tipsters who wrote in with their complaints didn't see the statement above. But here's what another one had to say about the situation:

I'm a resident at New York by Gehry in NYC. The management gave us a fantastic New Year's gift: They hiked up our gym fees from a reasonable $500 a year (which also included use of the building's amenities (pool, grilling terrace, screening room, etc.) to a whopping $1,320 a year. That shakes out to $110 a month—if you don't pay upfront, it's $180 month-to-month. Equinox prices for a nice, but somewhat basic residential gym.

Back in late October, the management started sending us emails about how we should get ready to "experience more" at the gym. Better classes, nutrition classes, and TOWEL SERVICE. We knew we were doomed.

The trouble is that the vast majority of the residents who use the gym are only interested in using the treadmills and ellipticals. We don't want to be on a class schedule, which is not convenient for our work schedules (many of the weekday classes end at 7:30 A.M. or start at 6 P.M.). And to be frank, the "new and improved" class schedule really is no better than the old schedule.

And PS, we live in the building, so most of us have convenient access to towels from our own apartments, and would prefer not to use skanky communal towels.

The gym has been taken over by a company called The Wright Fit. The staff wouldn't respond to emails or give us straight answers about the new pricing until just recently. They also can be rude. (I overheard two women at the desk talking smack about a woman working out—so, in other words, a resident who calls NYBG home.) It's really unprofessional to be shit-talking about "the half-naked Asian girl" when she's and her neighbors are within earshot.

PS: A Blink Fitness opened down the block on Nassau Street. It's $25 a month. I may just join on principle.

From another tipster, the January schedule of classes:

The Wright Fit - January Schedule

And, just because reading these doesn't get old, the first note we received:

Below is the new pricing structure for the amenities space at New York by Gehry since the gym was taken over by The Wright Fit. Previously we paid $1,000 per year for two of us. Now the price has gone up to $2,640 for two if we sign an annual contract, and a whopping $4,400/year if we pay month to month (presumably, anyone who has less than a year left on their lease). Wright Fitness also does not allow any outside trainers in the gym, residents must use their personal trainers if they want to train in the facility. As residents we received this email and pricing at 7.45p today (Jan 14th) and the new membership is required Jan 15th (tomorrow). We were given no previous information about this pricing.

As you know, the Lara (located around the corner) has a Blink Fitness gym on the ground floor with monthly fees as low as $25/mo, so NyBG residents who don't want to pay exorbitant fees are forced to work out in the Lara's gym.

My personal opinion of the new gym company is that the music they play is more appropriate for a frat house than an upscale luxury residence building and the staff is incredibly rude. But personal feelings aside, that's an increase of amenities pricing of up to 400%+ [ed. note: it's more like 164 percent from the existing price structure to the annual membership, or 332 percent if you go for the month-to-month] for an already pricey building.

Previously we had only the one-time payment of $500 per person, and this covered the entire year. We signed a two year lease and we were never billed for the second year, so this may have been per lease contract, but it was $1,000 for two people again when we renewed our lease in October of this year. The announcement about The Wright Fit came a month after we renewed (Nov). We were told at that time that there would be new fees, that we were using the amenities on a grace period, but again we were not told what those fees were until 7.45 last night, and we were also not told before last night that they took effect today.

To be fair, The Wright Fit is adding some fitness classes to the schedule (previously there was a mix of free fitness classes and paid classes), but now we are charged the additional fee whether we use the classes or not. The Wright Fit has also said (in person and by email) that they are adding new enhancements to the gym, but we have not seen any changes and we have not been told what those enhancements are.

Anyone else at Gehry have gym beefs? Are other buildings pulling the same kind of swap? Let us know in the comments below, or drop us a line.
· All New York by Gehry coverage [Curbed]

8 Spruce Street

8 Spruce Street, New York, NY 10038