Xperience staff was upset by the abrupt closure at the Waukesha location

WAUKESHA For Xperience Fitness Zumba Instructor Janet Dzikowski, the news of the closure of fitness clubs was shocking.

“It sucks, but I’ll be fine. I feel sorry for the people who worked there,” Dzikowski said.

The instructor, like many others, wishes everyone was given just a little more time to digest the information.

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“I know sometimes you just can’t help but to be caught off guard, I can’t believe a company didn’t know their last day was going to be a few hours,” he said.

Xperience Fitness announced Thursday that it will be permanently closing all of its fitness clubs in Wisconsin.

The fitness club posted the announcement on social media.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision and we apologize for this unfortunate news. Thank you to all of our staff, coaches and most importantly our amazing members for 11 years of fitness. Our attention is and always will be on our members and look forward to continuing to serve our Minnesota members. We want to thank you for allowing Xperience Fitness to be a part of your lifestyle. We wish you the absolute best for the future!”

The fitness club had locations in Appleton, Greenfield, Green Bay, Waukesha, Brookfield, Hales Corners and West Allis. A sign on the door to Greenfield said it was permanently closed Thursdays at 9pm

“To ensure there are no interruptions to your workouts, your membership has automatically transferred to Planet Fitness.” The sign indicated the address of the nearest Planet Fitness.

Dzikowski said in the workforce, people give proper two weeks notice. When you don’t, you are frowned upon.

“For a company that shuts down and oh well. You’re just blindsided with no knowledge,” he said.

Bailie Skinner-Barrett started in kindergarten at the fitness club and worked her way up to reception at the Waukesha location. She works part time since she is a student at LaCrosse.

Skinner-Barrett discovered the shutouts when everyone else did.

“I think I knew about it before my manager. We all found out about it from our old manager, but we all went in and clocked in for four hours,” he said.

She said it was very chaotic when she came in because everyone was discovering it at the same time.

“Everyone was in tears. It was so sudden. I was a little panicked since I was supposed to work this morning. Nobody knew what was going on and we still don’t know,” Skinner-Barrett said.

Skinner-Barrett said employees were given other Planet Fitness locations they could go to, but that they would have to apply for the job. It would not be considered a transfer.

Loss of relationships and rituals

Dzikowski had been teaching at the Waukesha location for two years and felt a sense of community with other instructors and students.

“You meet people and you become friends with them and suddenly it’s abrupt and that’s it,” Dzikowski said.

Group classes have become a ritual for some gym goers who can’t wait to meet friends and instructors.

There’s a group of women who took a Zumba class at Xperience and then went out for coffee together. Dzikowski said they “have their little rituals there.”

“When it stops, it’s sad. People wonder where they’re going and what they’re doing now,” she said.

Another question is which gyms or fitness clubs offer the same types of classes they did at Xperience Fitness.

Other gyms don’t have a pool or offer group classes.

“What you’re now transferred to something you didn’t sign up for,” she said.

Skinner-Barrett said employees felt like they had family there.

“We’ve all been there for over three years together and suddenly we have to go our separate ways and find jobs without each other. That’s the hardest thing,” she said.

Betsy Peters, an exercise instructor for Xperience Fitness, has been teaching two to three yoga classes a week there, from the time they opened the Sunset Drive location until Thursday.

“In fact, I taught a class of nearly 20 members at 11 on Thursday and reminded them that the club would have short hours during the holidays and that I would be seeing them next week. I found out about the closure on Facebook hours before arriving an email from Xperience company,” Peters said.

Like others, he experiences shock, surprise and confusion.

“I am also sad at the loss of contact. Many members became friends and for years we met in class twice a week. There was often a lively murmur of small talk before class members laughed and shared and connected and it has now been terminated so abruptly. I bet every instructor could share stories about the communities that have developed within their classes. If given the opportunity, I would have shared contact information to stay in touch, and I’m sure that many of them would too. Sadly, we have not been given any hints of the abrupt closure,” he said.

Peters added that this was a lousy way to treat your people.

“Planet Fitness does not offer their members any fitness classes, so there is no job for me there in my role as an instructor. I guess I will be looking for work after 4! The ebb and flow in the fitness industry is not unusual or surprising, but this was handled… poorly,” Peters said.

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