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Future Of Bethesda Fitness First Up In The Air

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 6/21/2013, 10:00am  ET

Fitness First in Bethesda, via Fitness First

On Thursday, Fitness First announced it sold 17 of its 18 locations to Gold’s Gym International.

The Bethesda location (7904 Wisconsin Ave.) is the only gym not part of the deal, and probably for good reason.

The 7900 Wisconsin Ave. property is slated to be razed and redeveloped into a 17-story, 475-unit apartment building with some ground floor retail by Chevy Chase-based developer JBG Cos. JBG hopes for a groundbreaking in January 2014.

Still, Fitness First CEO Peter Harvey told us he intends to keep the Bethesda gym in its existing location.

“Once my lease is up in a year, I have an additional 5-year option that I intend to exercise,” Harvey wrote in an e-mail. “JBG was not aware of this when they announced the redevelopment.”

The building as proposed will include 22,000 square feet of ground floor retail. A JBG official said in December the developer was negotiating with a grocery store chain to take about 20,000 square feet of that space.

Meanwhile, Fitness First members who use other gyms can expect a Gold’s Gym rebranding in the next two to three months, a Fitness First rep said today. The email sent to gym members on Thursday afternoon follows:

June 20, 2013

Dear Fitness First members:

Effective last night, Fitness First has entered into an agreement with Gold’s Gym International in which they will acquire 17 of our 18 locations, leaving our Bethesda location unaffected.   After the transfer of ownership becomes official(by the end of this month), we will send out more detailed information regarding our Bethesda club and any impact it may have upon you.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support over the years – from new members to those who have been on board for 22 years.

I hope we’ve made a difference for you, and I wish you all future success and great health!

Peter Harvey

Photo via Fitness First