Monday, 21 November 2011

Fitness First Shepherd’s Bush: We don’t want low-class Hammersmith types

Mouldy changing rooms
Fabio doesn’t know anything” snarled Violet, Fitness First Shepherd’s Bush ‘Member Services Manager’ this morning, as she dismissed her colleague as “he’s just sales” for having dared to agree that I could transfer my home membership to the W12 branch yesterday.

As regular readers will know I have been going to Fitness First Shepherd’s Bush for a long time (in fact over a decade) and during that time I, along with other members who have also been there for years, have regularly complained about the mouldy showers, the cleaners who have punch-ups in the middle of the gym and the fact that the weights area never gets tidied away.

But in recent months we’ve all been quite happy – the gym has had a lick of paint and there genuinely seems to have been improvements. But now we know why. Yesterday morning I saw the ominous notice entitled “Fantastic News” which informed members that the club was now being designated a “platinum” club. In laymans terms this ‘fantastic’ news meant that if you wanted to keep going there you had to stump up a lot more money and transfer your home club to Shepherd’s Bush.

On Sunday I expressed my disappointment to Fabio, the manager on duty for the day, saying that it was a shame when those of us who had put up with the shoddy were now being cleared away once the gym appeared to be getting its act together. He agreed, and in view of the fact I have been a member for so long agreed to transfer it.

First thing in the morning - find your weights in this mess
 But it appears it’s not to be – and a trainer I spoke to this morning after receiving Violet’s narrow-eyed tongue lashing, revealed what this was really about. He’d also complained because by forcing people out trainers like him, who pay the club a monthly fee, will lose clients. The answer he received from the club's management revealed a lot – he was told that Fitness First want Shepherd’s Bush to have a “higher class of member”, and they’d specifically referred to the Hammersmith club as having a “lower class” who they wanted to stop coming.

As I was leaving our friend Violet simply said "if you don't like it complain to Head Office" - I have to say when they employ people like her, and take decisions like this, what on earth would be the point?

So there we have it folks – you put up with rubbish service for a decade, loyally stay put, and then when Fitness First decide you are too ‘lower class’, you’re shown the door. As I said a long time ago, it’s Fitness First, Service Last.

Now then, anyone got a recommendation for gyms in Shepherd's Bush?


  1. Virgin Active on Bromyard Avenue (just by Acton Vale) is very good.

  2. Sheps Bush FF is awful.. a male cleaner in the women's changing room (with no sign anywhere to make you aware) was the final straw for me..

  3. Shepherd's Bush classier than Hammersmith... There's a first!

  4. Definitley Virgin Active. They have three gyms in the area in Hammersmith, Ken High St and Acton Vale. Gym Box in Westfiel seems good.

    I'm not surprised by your experience was at FF Shepherds Bush too for years, it was awful. Also when I cancelled my membership they sent a debt collection agency after me for some imaginary fees which took about a year to sort out.

  5. DaJanetAdegokie

  6. If you can: cycle to work-it will probably save you money, save you time travelling and gives you precious time back from not having the need to go to the gym and burns lots of calories and makes you trim. Go on quieter routes.

    E mail all the local gyms in the mean time and say you may be interested in joining at the right price and wait for the offers to come your way. Prices are always negotiable. Never put up with ba shoddy service-gyms should be a stimulating environment to the body and not a house of horrors. Robert

  7. I've would thoroughly recommend Gymbox at the Westfield - I've been there for about a year or so now. Helpful staff and trainers, lots of different classes, very clean facilities, and I've never seen equipment out of service. There is a big weights area too if thats your thing. :)

  8. These places are always awful, I don't know why you waste your money on them. Put that money in the bank for a couple of years & you could build your own private exercise room.

    Anyway, I think Shepherds Bush is getting very classy these days. Not like tatty old Hammersmith. We don't want people like 'gym receptionists' around here any more. They're just plain vulgar.

  9. @Derek Ha ha!
    @ Chris I agree with a couple of the above posters - Virgin Active is pretty good. There are excellent outdoor courts at Acton and the pool there is large. The gym is always busy, but never crowded, and this creates a pleasant, thriving atmosphere. Never had a problem with staff or equipment. Excellent cafe and rest area. Hammersmith Virgin is smalller but still very good + clean. Thanks for all your sharing. Peter

  10. I'd definitely recommend Virgin Active too, the Bromyard Avenue one is great (with tennis courts!) and on the couple of occasions I have had to call head office (change to access was one reason) they have bent over backwards and always put things straight. Couldn't be more pleased! Would never go back to a fitness first - and I was a member of the "platinum" Tottenham Court Rd club! Helen

  11. I know the FF receptionist you're talking about. I used to be her boss in an unrelated job to what she is doing now. I have to say she is in a rather awkward situation as FF don't tell their staff or management anything until they spring in upon them. If you complained, I am willing to bet you were not the first that day to do so, but I'd bet you were the nicest one to ask!

    They did the same with the gym price increases, as I also had a go at them for this - no advance warning at all, and a price increase for nothing. I absolutely dislike FF and have moved to Virgin which is in a far different league than FF.

  12. The clue is in the name by the sound of it, they
    should add a strap-line like the council.

    How about Fitness First, customers a bit later.

    Hope they're following this. Revenge is sweet eh Chris? Show Virgin your powers and they'll offer us all a discount if they know what's good for them.

  13. FF Shepherds Bush was so dirty and smelly (ew, the weights...) I left over 3 years ago. I've since found a lovely little place, just over the borough boundary. Cheaper, nicer, cleaner but not nearly so convenient :(

    38 degrees (Olympia) looks very nice but you'd need a bankers salary to join

  14. Chris,

    Good post. Fitness First are terrible! The W12 centre gym is pretty dire and I wonder what has kept you going back for so long? I was a member there for about a year a few years back. (well.... i was made to pay for a year even though after 3 months i couldn't handle the retch inducing stink of the showers and the terrible attitude of the staff and stopped going)

    FF has been owned by private equity firms for a long time now and their main incentive has been to try and make the brand as valuable as possible in monetary terms... the customer comes a very long way down the list. There is actually an incentive for them in having people like Violet their customer face. If she is awful enough then people will not want to go. If people who are signed up for 12 months dont want to go then they can ram in a few more new joiners and the gym will reach a far higher capacity! Be nasty, stack em high!!

    I say, dont give FF your custom. The Gym Box guys run a pretty tight ship and the facilities are thousands of times better than FF. Or Virgin as people rightly say. Otherwise, 10min on the scooter to ealing and you can get most if not all of the facilities that the average user wants at "The Gym" for something like £17 per month. Bargain.

    Good luck, give them hell.


  15. Oh goodie, have been looking for somewhere to rant about the awfulness of FF in SheBu!! The changing rooms are indeed a complete joke, and get so hot and humid at peak times that you can’t dry-off properly, leaving your shirt stuck to your back. That is of course, when the showers actually work – down again at the moment I see… As for the general dirtiness of the floor, couldn’t agree more – I had wondered if I was the only one who thought it wrong.

    Like most, I’ve been surprised by the “upgrade” to platinum. The fact that the upgrade has been so sheepishly marketed – a document after the turnstiles, written in tiny font - suggests that even FF can’t think of a good reason for explaining the move to platinum status. Love the fact that the “fantastic news” notice doesn’t explain one benefit or change that customers will experience. Is it is because of the new lick of paint and some ropes to swing on?! Regardless of the fact that the mirrors in the weights area have multiple cracks running across them and that the paper towels can go empty for long periods of time (days? weeks?). Platinum isn’t a word that I’d associate with FF SheBu.

    I stay only because it is convenient. I’d also suggest that the fellow members are actually quite friendly (although maybe not during peak times!) - I hope they’re not the ones who will leave. As an alternative, I’d also suggest looking at the FF on Hammersmith Grove. It’s a bit smaller, but the changing rooms are much larger and nicer.

    Does anyone know why its so busy (at least early weekday mornings) at the moment? Did they do a GroupOn offer or something as part of the "upgrade" marketing plan?

    Also, does anyone know the cost (one-off + subscription) for Gym Box?

  16. Platinum membership starts at £39 in other clubs around the UK, i'm sure if you phone them they'd be happy to sign you up, post the card for your use in SheBu or any other platinum club in the city!!

  17. Hammersmith Squash and Fitness beside novotel behind Virgin active in hammersmith is £20 a contract needed. changing rooms a bit grubby but you get what you pay for.

  18. I asked a very unhelpful receptionist this morning how they can justify upgrading the club and she said that it is because they have new air conditioning and have done some work on the changing rooms! Air con and showers that occasionally work...hardly gym luxuries!

  19. Is their a change over period from Blue to Platinum staus, and when do they stop blue members from using their gym...?
    I'm sure they will have a number of very disgruntled members, i don't remember a pre warning period for this change over, VERY INCONVENIENT!!

  20. Virgin Active at Hammersmith is fantastic. Staff are friendly, lots of classes and the gym is clean!

  21. fermina l.macabante14 February 2012 at 22:08

    Hi its fermina macabante here.I had membership of fitness first was started just last month 24 of january.I have a problem i lost my job and i have no money to support my membership now could you pls cancel my contract with you and then when i will be alright again will be join back to fitness first again.Kindly pls help me to cancel it as soon as posible many thanks.this is my contact number 07703764421