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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gym members campaign to save Pro Maxx Fitness

Pro Maxx members
Members of Pro Maxx Fitness have been carrying signs along Columbia Pike for the past two days – and plan to be out again today – to publicize their efforts to prevent the gym from being evicted by the management of the Annandale Shopping Center.

An online petition to save the gym has gotten over 650 signatures so far.
The ouster of this popular gym has hit a nerve among Annandale residents who don’t want to see another locally owned business go under – especially one that is helping so many people stay healthy. Here are a few excepts from the hundreds of comments by people who signed the petition:

  • “The Pro Maxx Fitness center is the most successful new business opened in Annandale in quite some time. It is a state-of-the art fitness center that eagerly welcomes and works with all ages, ethnic groups, and fitness levels. It is a clean, friendly, professional environment.”
  • “The results achieved by a fitness center cannot and should not be measured in dollars but by the health of the community. Taking away access to residents and forcing them to join a corporate chain and forcing local business owners out runs counter to what makes Annandale great.”
  • “Well run, clean facility that is a convenient gym where I go to keep my senior body in shape in a safe, community-friendly atmosphere. Please keep this gym open and available to those of us in the Annandale community who want to stay physically fit and heart healthy.”
  • “This is a community gym that needs to remain in the Annandale community. This shopping center already has empty space where Bloom left. We do not need to have another empty location in the center.”
  • “Being a former heart patient, this gym and with the assistance of the staff, have helped me get back to great health! We cannot afford to lose such a fine, caring establishment as this gym. I depend on it to be there for my health and well being!”
  • “This a pillar of the community. Annandale needs local non-franchised businesses to enhance the quality of life. To lose this health club would be a major loss for many citizens.”
  • “This is a great gym that supports the community. It is clean, well-run, and has the best customer service I have ever seen in a gym. . . . It would be a terrible mistake to let this jewel of Annandale close!”
  • “Pro Maxx Fitness makes a very important contribution to the health and well-being of Its membership and the community. This gym supports the work of first emergency first responders and important causes that make Annandale a community.”
  • “This is a wonderful neighborhood gym. We come together to work out, catch up and support one another. This is not just a gym but a neighborhood gathering place.”
The gym’s owners, Susan Hilaski and Ahmed Ragheb, a former Olympic weightlifter, have been advised not to speak publicly about the eviction, as the matter will be heard in court, on Sept. 19.

Ragheb did speak out, however, about his concern about the gym’s 28 employees losing their jobs. “All I care about is my employees,” he said. “I don’t care about myself. If it is an issue with me personally, I am happy to step aside and no longer be a part of this business, just as long as my employees don’t have to suffer. That is all I really care about.”

A press release issued by Personal Training Manager Rachel Martin and Pro Maxx member Patricia Giera, offers a few more details from the gym’s perspective about the leasing dispute.

“Pro MAXX Fitness was slated to open at the end of 2012, and at that time had a five-year lease that was verbally agreed to by both parties and presented as the lease to others,” they state. “The owners, Susan and Ahmed, proceeded with renovations, which entailed complete overhaul of the whole building and a rebuild with high-quality materials at a great expense to the owners.”

“Unfortunately, in November 2012, just prior to opening, the gym was broken into and many items, including televisions and electronic equipment were stolen,” Martin and Giera state. “The opening was delayed, and the owners had to pay to replace everything. Because they had already paid for the build-out, the property manager made a verbal agreement to charge only a percentage of the rent until the business was up and running and able to afford full payments.”

“Susan and Ahmed began paying full payments as agreed, and a written lease was requested,” the  statement continues. “The lease that were presented at that time, however, had changed to terms that Susan and Ahmed were unable to accept. To date, they have been unable to come to a lease agreement, all offers by the owners have been rejected, and counter offer terms made by the property manager were not achievable. Currently without a written lease, Pro MAXX is renting month to month.”

“Despite paying rent on time as verbally agreed, the property manager has initiated the eviction process and the eviction hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19. The business is doing well based on its membership and business plan, and we have researched other venues,” they say. “Unfortunately, the bottom line is that the cost of the initial build-out has left significant debt that the owners must continue to pay even if evicted, and until the business has a chance to remain in this location long enough to gain a profit, we are unlikely to be able to afford the costs of starting again at a new location.” 

Pro Maxx has ceased billing for membership fees or personal training sessions for the month of September, but is “still providing services as best we can until we are ordered to close,” Martin states.

The gym has about 1,000 members, with about half of them police officers, firefighters, EMTs, military, teachers, students, and seniors. Its services include a competitive weightlifting team; more than 100 fitness, Zumba, yoga, and other classes a week; massage therapy; and an outdoor boot camp. In June, Pro Maxx was named the best gym in the Annandale/Mason area by readers of the Annandale Blog.


  1. So the owners had no insurance since they had to pay for replacing stolen items. Also no lease if they were month to month. Return to sender, they might know how to run a gym but legal and financial not so much.

    Try Wakefield Park REC, your tax dollars are already helping to pay for it.

    1. Been there,done that, same ole county gov't. facility, not personable, doesn't meet
      my needs. Thats why like private schools, we pay to have better than just mundane, and mediocre. The payoff is in the results.

    2. Then you must not be using the pool. ProMaxx's pool is where?

    3. that you?

  2. It's not about the owners, It's about the community and choices.

    1. Wrong wrong. It is about paying rent per obligations. The emotional pleas are secondary to the fact that rent was unpaid.

  3. Move into the Harris Teeter shopping center - Barcroft Plaza