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Monday, September 1, 2014

Pro Maxx Fitness is being evicted

A letter to members on the front door says the gym expects to close at the end of the month.
Owners, employees, and members of Pro Maxx Fitness in the Annandale Shopping Center on Columbia Pike are mounting a petition drive to fight the landlord’s plan to evict the gym by the end of September.

It’s all about a disagreement over the lease, says personal training manager Rachel Martin. Pro Maxx doesn’t have a written lease and has been rent to the owner of the shopping center, the McWorter family, on a monthly basis. Pro Maxx wants a five-year lease but the shopping center manager, Carol Zach Reuss, “won’t agree to anything,” Martin says.

It’s unclear why this is happening, and Reuss hasn’t responded to a request for an explanation.

A letter to members on the front door from co-owners Susan Hilaski and Ahmed Ragheb states: “We regret to inform you that although we have tried to resolve a tenancy issue with our property manager at the Annandale Shopping Center over the past several months, we have been unsuccessful in reaching any agreement that would allow us to remain in operation.” It goes on to say, “We, and our 28 dedicated employees, will continue to serve you to the best of our ability as long as we are able to do so through September 2014.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” Martin says. Pro Maxx Fitness has about 1,000 members and has been successful since it opened in December 2012.

If the gym is forced to close, Hilsaki doubts whether it would be financially feasible to reopen in a new location, as the owners are still paying off the loan for renovating the building.

The leasing dispute will be heard in Fairfax County court Sept. 19. Martin concedes that it will be tough to fight the eviction, as the gym is operating without a lease and the landlord has the right to evict tenants. Their best hope seems to be generating enough support from members and the community to convince the landlord to reconsider.

In an email about the situation to the news media and the Annandale Chamber of Commerce, Pro Maxx member Melvin Bodmer wrote, “I am asking for your help to keep Pro Maxx Fitness in the Annandale Shopping Center. If we work together, we will keep the area fit and a small business in business. They changed my life for the better, as well as many other people.”

In June, Annandale Blog readers selected Pro Maxx Fitness as the best gym in the Annandale/Mason area.

Roe Panella says being a member of Pro Maxx is like “being part of a really large diverse family. There’s a lot of positive energy.”

“This is basically a second home for us. It’s very convenient,” says Will Schwarzer, who participates in the gym’s boot camp with his wife, Ashley. “The staff here has made it a very high-caliber, professional gym. They are so focused on community building, and it supports local employment,” says Schwarzer, who notes that he’s lost 20 pounds in the past month.

62 comments:

  1. Seriously a business operating on a month to month lease is beyond stupid. Its reckless when your business is a gym and depends on people wanting to trust you before they pay in advance. Its pretty much impossible to fight an eviction on a month to month lease as long as you get the standard 30 days notice.

    It defies belief that a gym of all places would agree to that type of lease.

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    1. Actually, what defies belief is that Carol Reuss has created a situation where she will only allow month-to-month leases for that space, and once that business begins to become successful getting rid of it. From what I heard month-to-month was the only deal Reuss would agree to and hinted that if they were successful that she'd agree to a five year lease. ProMaxx is obviously a success. Wanting to create another empty lot in the Annandale Shopping Center is 'beyond stupid', and the only trust that has been violated here has been watching ProMaxx getting the shaft while some of the business in the same shopping center are not nearly bringing as much business to the area.

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    2. What happened in the past does not matter, the current status is a month to month agreement. The owner has given 30 days notice required by law, where is there a violation?
      What is it with people these days and their sense of entitlement. The building owner wants them out and has a legal right and appears to be following the correct course of action.
      Maybe Deaver's Appliance will make a comeback.

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    3. Entitlement? Disapproving of someone building a profitable successful business that the community loves, and having it evicted so that the LLC owner can theoretically try her hand at running the exact same business (even though that didn't materialize during her last attempt) is considered, entitlement?

      I’m guessing you don’t go to the gym then?

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    4. A question to consider - when was the last time ProMaxx paid their rent? I don't think that a landlord would evict a tenant that pays their rent. Bottom line is, if you don't pay your bills you get kicked out.

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    5. FYI the full rent was paid on time and in person
      each month, until the landlord started the litigation to evict.

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    6. Yeah, ProMaxx paid their rent, from what I understand Carol Reuss wants to open her own gym and prefers others doing her work for her.

      Guess she's used to being entitled.

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    7. Well if the current owners DONT pay for loan renovations, would that then put a lien on the space and force Reuss to pay it? Not sure if that makes sense. Though I can imagine it REALLY effs up the Promaxx credit for any future loans.

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    8. The gym owners, Ahmed Ragheb and Susan Hilaski poured tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) into already successfully renovating the gym and stocking it with top of the line equipment.

      The debt will fall on Susan and Ahmed, not on Reuss or the space.

      Reuss has set them up to put in all the work, time, and money, and now that its done, evicting them so she can take over.

      Great to know that people like Reuss will continue to lure businesses into Annandale, and then screw them over despite turning a profit for reasons that still have yet to surface. Really sets up a great future for our community.





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  2. I was a member of MaxFitness when this same landlord evicted Lance, et al in 2012. At the time she(the landlord) put out the word that she and her sister were opening a gym in that space. Nothing happened and it sat vacant. Then after months of delay and $$$ build outs by Susan and Ahmed ProMAXX opened and has become the best private gym around. Is the landlord shutting them down to take over the business they have worked so hard to establish? What other reason would she have to evict an excellent tenant in a shopping center with 35,000 square feet of space at the other end that has been vacant for over 2 years?

    If it was free I would not go to a gym operated by this landlord and/or her relatives or associates.

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    1. Absolutely, this landlord is a real piece of work. I was a member in 2012 and prior (the former owner) and under Pro Maxx with Susan and Ahmed. It was incredible the amount of work they put into the place--and money. It was the best independent gym I've ever seen in all the places I've lived over the years. Well run too.

      That they did this on a month-to-month basis is beyond sad. I guess they didn't know the history of the center or the landlord. Tragic mistake for them.

      However, the community is small--and has ears--and I have no doubt the dirtbag landlord will find herself with an empty space if she tries to reopen as a gym.

      If I were Susan and Ahmed, I would have driven a Bobcat through the doors on the last day and taken care of the removing my capital investment so as to leave the original walls.

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    2. Nor do I. I feel so much for Susan and Ahmed. You felt so welcomed by Susan and Ahmed and the gym gave me the sense of being part of a large diverse family. They gave us a lot of positive energy. The perfect place to be surrounded by people from many backgrounds working out for a better self.
      Reuss...think about your karma...money is not everything in life...a community of like minded people are feeling neglected from their daily practice.

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    3. When you spend that amount of money on something you love and you live for you can't destroy it. It all comes at the end to money from the owner view. that what I believe. and she is totally forget about the great service was provided through this gym to the community.

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  3. This is a travesty. I will definitely sign the petition!

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  4. I need the whole story before I can make a decision. Does the owners want to raise the rent to be closer to market price? What is the reason behind not wanting to give them a 5 year lease?

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  5. Not sure how many comments this blog will get, but there are MANY on Facebook supporting this local community business. Something smells fishy.

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  6. There are over 300 comments at the petition site:

    https://www.change.org/p/property-manager-keep-pro-maxx-fitness-in-the-annandale-shopping-center

    Copy and Paste for the real story.

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  7. At this point the property owners intention is eviction, 30 day notice has been given. As the poster above stated why would you commit to a business without a lease. Gripe all you want, but unless you own the place there is nothing you can do. Move on folks. Maybe we will get another CVS or Walgreens. Nothing to see here, Bloom has been gone for at least two years and it sits empty. If the owner can do without the rental income that is great but the community suffers. We lost a grocery store, Rite Aid, now a gym. Welcome to Annandale folks.

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    1. As pointed out on the petition site a verbal lease is binding in VA. Don't blame Annandale, blame the despots who are landlords like Carol Zach Reuss. Lovely Legacy

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    2. A verbal lease is binding and so is the right to give a tenant 30 days notice. Please, the landlord is also a business! This is one of the nicest shopping centers in Annandale. Let us calm down and wait for the judge to view the facts. A successful shopping center must have a proper mix of tenants and a mix of leases that expire at certain intervals. Let us put aside the emotions and silly comments like "well, I have lost weight there" and remind ourselves that this is America and we embrace capitalism!

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  8. What kind of a cosmic bunny hole did I fall into? In what universe does a landlord not want to get her tenants under a lease agreement? ProMAXX wants to be there, the landlord needs a tenant, why not offer them a lease and let them stay. Our economy seems to pose enough problems for small businesses. Why keep penalizing the small business owner which has been the backbone of this great country? And in what world is it OK to dismiss 28 employees to the unemployment roles because a landlord changes her mind about what type of business she wants in this space? Heartless!

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  9. I’m 67 years old, an Annandale resident since 1974. I joined Pro Maxx Fitness right after its 2013 opening. At that time I weighed 193 pounds, had high blood pressure and my sugar level was borderline diabetic. After one year of two or three workouts per week, I now weigh 175 pounds, and have gained five pounds of muscle, my blood pressure is that of 20 year old, and my blood sugar is where it’s supposed to be for a man my age. This gym may have ultimately saved me from an early demise.

    Pro Maxx is the cleanest, friendliest, best run gym, or other business, in the Annandale area. No problems, wonderful staff, and no troublemakers. Closing this value-added community facility would be a slap in the face of the many VOTING seniors, who support this gym, and would serve as yet another black mark to the indifferent landlord, who aspires to be a respected business leader in the community, but apparently is more interested in only their bottom line. Yeah, I know, it’s business only, but it’s also more of the same transparent garbage that we see from other absentee investors.

    Please, Annandale is a bustling community, we have a lot to be thankful for but it’s time to stop opening restaurants, while closing businesses that contribute to the community, not to only their pocketbooks. C’mon now, it’s time for community action, and not siding with business interests only. Let’s support our community first, and keep Pro Maxx open to our neighborhood.

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  10. Carol is in fact trying to run them out to start her own "family" business, which failed once before. She got ProMaxx in there to PAY for the renovation and bump out and would NOT allow them a five year lease so she could do just this...take over. Mean people suck. Carol sucks as a landlord and we have first hand experience at that!

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    1. You can't just take over. Ahmed can either move the gym or declare Chapt 7 for the business and liquidate the equipmnet to satisfy his lienholders. Some of you posting here are borderline idiots. The only equipment that the landlord could "take over" are those pieces that were attached or belong to the property before Maxx got in there. My feeling is there is much more to the story that we are not privy to. To the clowns who are petitioning, what's your legal thesis? Because I lost 20 lbs? Oh its not right? They should just vacate, because any legal bills will come right out of the gym owners pockets. Its pointless. Athens, Maxx, Max fitness 14 year member...Miss ole Leon

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  11. I've been very pleased with the Pro Maxx staff and facilities. I think they've become a big part of the community and provide a vital health benefit. nnandale keeps losing businesses. Do we want vacant stores on both ends of this shopping center? Or another title loan outfit?

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  12. When you sign any month to month lease you have to go in assuming that the landlord doesn't want you there for an extended period of time. It defies reason that a gym would invest in any location without a written long-term lease. If the other party is not willing to put "promises" into the written lease, assume that they won't be honored and that goes for any type of contract.

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  13. How does everybody know this about the landlord. Seems a lot like a rumor to me.

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  14. Sad all around as I was looking forward to getting a membership to this awesome gym. I hope you win ProMaxx!

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  15. People need to get their facts straight before they post something up....

    1 st off .. the gym that was there before was Max fitness, which one of the current owners Ahmed was part of , not the property owner .

    Secondly rent wasnt paid for almost the first year of the gym being opened and when rent was paid , it wasnt in full and sporadic.

    Plus the cost of the build out of the gym was supposed to be paid by current owners Ahmed and Susan but wasnt and the property owner probably had to help out with the cost to finish the build out which is supposed to be paid back by current gym owners.


    Peoples hearts are in the right place to try to keep a local gym open but they have to know that this is a business and if people aren't keeping up with rent and repayment of build outs than they have to go ....

    Some people need to ask current owners if they are able to pay rent and their employees on time without any issues .

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    1. Your comments are interesting, Anonymous, as this is the opposite of what I've heard from people and pretty obviously others on here as well. Renovations are said to be paid for by Ahmed and Susan, as far as I've gleaned. The first few payments were put off because of the break-in and vandalism caused delay in opening. Sounds like someone didn't like competition even before they opened! Care to go and give an actual name so that any bias on your own part can be made apparent? Mine is I'm a gym member and love this gym. I'm also okay at reading comprehension and believe in apostrophes.

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    2. Yeah how do you know so much, homey domey?

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  16. It appears everyone is making a quick judgement with only hearing one side of a story. Annandale Shopping Center and Carol have been an asset to the community for years with community events and the upkeep. Let us not judge until we hear both sides of this story. I am not a member of the gym but I think the gym has been a great addition to our community so I do hope this situation can be worked out. It does not help for people to name call because it will only make a bad situation worse.

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    1. I agree. I don't know the details of this business dispute but I do know that Carol and Susan have both dedicated a lot of energy over many years enhancing Annandale's community. Whether you think the eviction is unfair or just business, character assassination should have no place in the discussion.

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  17. I think the Pro Max should be replaced with a Title Max, since Annandale has become the center of money lending and laundering...........what a place!

    Keep the Pro Max and return the rest of the fools to sender.

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    1. Get your title back with Title Max!

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    2. Well at least it has Max in it.

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    3. That place is big enough for a pawn shop and a tattoo parlor. Something that Annandale lacks.

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  18. ProMaxx is a great gym and the people who work there and go to there are wonderful. It would be a real shame for community cohesion and health if this place were to close. Looking at the petition, it's got basically 469 love letters to it. I don't think any other business in the area could do that, much less another gym. Please, Carol Reuss, James McWhorter, and Thomas McWhorter, change your minds about such a great local business.

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  19. http://annandaleva.blogspot.com/2014/07/annandale-blog-readers-select-pro-maxx.html

    So this was posted less than two months ago, selecting ProMaxx as the best gym in our community..and now its being evicted.

    ...How the hell does this make any sense?

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  20. I don't know how jaw-droppingly stupid you have to be to pour six figures of cash (gym build-out) into a commercial space when you don't have a lease. I guarantee that the loan referenced is NOT a commercial loan because no bank would lend without a lease; they must have gotten a home equity loan or something like that. These people made a HUGE mistake.

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    1. Several entities dropped the ball here, and a series of unfortunate circumstances evolved. 1. The bank issued a commercial loan based upon a 5 year lease that was not signed. 2. It did not come to the attention of the owners that there was not a signed lease until earlier this year. 3. Carol has refused to negotiate with the ProMaxx owners up till present. 4. No lease means no lease, and the business will be closed at the end of September. Unfortunately, the Promaxx owners have poured their entire life savings into this business and once the business closes they will have lost everything....even their residences.

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  21. They probably got their loan from TitleMax.

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    1. I usually see a yellow Hummer H2 in the parking lot, they probably used that.

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  22. They better keep this damn gym open. As others stated it is good for the community as well as the customers. If they have a payment issue, it is most likely best solved over time rather than just evicting them. If that place is empty, it will look exactly like Bloom. The shopping center will be vacant on both sides. KEEP THE GYM IN ANNANDALE!!

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  23. Where do we send our protestations and/or letters of support?

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  24. Ok guys. This is going to be over. The city will side with the owner TRUST ME this gym will close! Go to Gold's gym down the street or the new LA fitness that is opening at the mall which will be wayyyyyyy more expensive. I already went to Gold's and singed up. Love my new trainer Bethany

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    1. Why should I trust you?

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    2. Bethany is that you?

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  25. This is a travesty of justice! I just got back into the country and I find out my favorite gym is closing! Gee willikers! Where do I go to protest?!

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  26. I went to Golds down the street. Its nice they have some great trainers. I met Moe the fitness consultant who used to be a trainer he is great. He got me hooked up with Bethany and its going great. You could also sign up with LA fitness but that's up to you. Its no use protesting

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    1. Golds gym sucks! I would rather train with Samear or Rachel.

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    2. I saw your other post, Bethany, on this topic. At least be honest about it.

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  27. What a disaster. How has this place stayed open this long. I am at xsport with several former members at $24 a month with a pool it amazes me anyone still goes to this place. Seems like non-stop problems.

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    1. I've read the reviews for Xport in looking for a new gym in case this one closes, but Xport seems to have nothing but bad things to say about the quality of the staff, theft potential, and parking. I've never had a problem with any of those things at ProMaxx.

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  28. All the protesting is a wonderful community gesture of support. However, the decision will be made in the court of law...not in the court of public opinion. Community - if you really want to help, ProMaxx needs about $200 K in order to move to another locale.

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  29. The owners of this shopping center are terrible. If this gym area is going to end up like Bloom, why do this? I've heard that many people (asian entrepeneurs) have shown interest in leasing out the space where Bloom used to reside but the owners want to keep the shopping center "white". This eviction just shows how dirty and low down the property managers are.

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    1. Wait but the people who they are evicting are white?????? What gives homey domey?!

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    2. Being nasty and starting rumors makes your side not look good. Unless you have hard cold facts and can produce them I would leave out the nasty rumors and slander. I find this type of behavior of poor taste.

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    3. Carol...is that you? Karma is a b*tch....and there really is no treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder unless you really are motivated toward treatment....and based upon your behaviors over the past few months it is apparent that you don't.

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  30. Just because I do not believe in name calling does not mean I am Carol. A lot of people on this blog know who I am. I am not taking either side just the side of being civil to each in hopes everything will work out for both sides.

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  31. So the truth comes out .... unpaid rent and more .... yeah bye bye GYM or maybe just current owners.

    http://annandaleva.blogspot.com/2014/09/judge-upholds-eviction-of-pro-maxx.html?m=1

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  32. I joined Athens fitness back in the 90's at that location, and have been a member ever since for Almost 20 YEARS!!. I was super excited when it became ProMaxx because they dumped tons of money into the building to upgrade it and make it beautiful like a fancy day spa. Anyway, after seeing what happened to the Bloom, it's obvious this landlord is a scum bag and can't have fair negotiations with the business owners who want to invest in the community and now it's starting to look like rt.1. If the landlord opens another gym in that space using the lovely renovated space ProMaxx worked so hard on, I will boycot using any services offered in the shopping center and spread the word to everyone I see around there. Shame on you greedy, sneaky slumlords. Word will get out, and you will pay the price for your actions. Hope your bank evicts you out your house after you make big renovations, then you can go live in the old ProMaxx location all alone in misery. Pittiful. Karma will get YOU!!!

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