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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gym members mobilize against eviction of Pro Maxx Fitness

Rachel Martin speaks to members of Pro Maxx Fitness.
About three dozen Pro Maxx Fitness members gathered in the gym’s aerobics room Wednesday evening for a meeting to mobilize opposition to a planned eviction.

Pro Maxx owners Susan Hilaski and Ahmed Ragheb informed members Aug. 30 that they’ve been unable to agree on an acceptable leasing arrangement with the manager of the Annandale Shopping Center and will have to shut down by the end of September. The gym has been operating without a written lease, so they don’t have much of a legal recourse – but are they not going down without a fight.

Gym members vow to fight the eviction.
More than 460 people have a signed a petition urging the landlord to let the gym stay open in its current location. Hilsaki and Ragheb have been exploring relocation options but haven’t found any suitable properties in Annandale.

At the Sept. 3 meeting, Personal Training Manager Rachel Martin urged members to contact Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, other public officials, local business groups, and the media to raise awareness about the eviction and let them know how important it is to have a fitness facility serving the Annandale community and to retain a small business and help the employees keep their jobs.

Martin organized a “call-in day” on Sept. 4 for Pro Maxx members and employees to call local leaders and urge them to encourage the landlord come to an agreement to enable the gym to stay open.

Pro Maxx is bringing the awareness campaign to the streets on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as members and employees will be carrying signs as they walk along the sidewalk in front of the shopping center. Members are also posting videos in support of the gym – in some cases describing how it’s helped them with their fitness goals – on the “Save Pro Maxx Fitness” Facebook page.

The tenancy dispute will be heard in court Sept. 19. Neither the owners of the shopping center, the McWhorter family, nor the property manager, Carol Zach Reuss, have made any public statements to explain their side of the story.

According to Martin, Reuss was very helpful when Pro Maxx was robbed – TVs were stolen and equipment was damaged – just as the gym was scheduled to open in December 2012. Ruess cut the rent payments in half at that time. But later, she said, Reuss attempted to change the lease and neither side could agree on the terms, so the gym has been operating without a written lease.

Pro Maxx Fitness has 28 employees and about 1,000 members. “We bring a lot of business to the shopping center,” Martin said.


  1. If Penny Gross is involved they might as well start packing up now.

    Gross noted that there were some exciting proposals to redevelop Annandale a few years ago but the market crashed before they could start, and there are some interesting ideas in the works, including a new Dunkin Donuts. The visioning task force created last summer to come up with recommendations for Seven Corners “is going to have a tremendous effect,” she added.

  2. ProMaxx is a great gym and an asset to the community in an age where life is all about fast food and limiting human connections. I'm sure that Carol and the McWhorter brothers care about the community, see how wonderful the gym is for community building as well as how important it is for the members, and reconsider their decision. It's a shame to close down a thriving business in hopes of "something better" when the same shopping center houses such a big, empty building for a year plus.

  3. *The Push for Pro MAXX Fitness Walk will take place Fri. Sept. 5 from 3pm- 7pm, Sat. Sept. 6 from 9am- 5pm, Sun. Sept 7 from 12pm - 5pm. Any concerned citizens are welcome to join the cause or simply find out more information. Bring your camera and your signs so we can get our message heard.

  4. I still want to hear the other side of the story. Everyone is standing behind ProMaxx with out hearing both sides. I agree I want ProMaxx to stay but what is the cause of the agreement dispute. I am confused why Penny Gross or any local leaders have anything to do with this matter.

  5. What? Replace the gym with Dunkin Donuts. Heresy!
    Assault with a deadly weapon! Attempted murder!

    1. chill, Dunkin Donuts is down the street in the Hess Station.