A cluster of women stands outside the Fit City for Women gym at 4664 Lougheed Hwy., reading the notices pasted on the windows.
The large room is empty and dark, with mirrors at the far end reflecting the world outside.
The letters taped to the window and doorway inform customers that the fitness club shut down due to a financial matter with the landlord.
The doors closed on Aug. 14 after the landlord came to the facility with bailiffs and took possession of the equipment, according to the letter, because of unpaid back rent.
"After almost 14 years of success in Burnaby, it saddens us that it had to end like this," the letter stated.
The facility's rent increased to more than $24,000 per month with a new lease agreement a couple of years ago - more than double what they'd paid when they first opened in 1999, according to Jeff Fraser, president of Fit City.
"Our rent became too great for us to handle," Fraser said in a phone interview with the NOW. "There was a sudden increase under the last lease, which was put upon us under heavy pressure to renew."
At the time that lease worked within the company's business plan, he said, but things changed when the Richmond location's landlord chose not to renew the lease there because the owners planned to redevelop the land.
The Richmond location is now closed as well, with contracts transferred to Planet Women.
The Burnaby Fit City location hadn't been late on its payment once in the 13 years before this, Fraser said, but in June, they began to fall behind on the rent.
"We were the perfect tenant until we began to fall short on our rent four months ago, he said.
He was surprised when the landlord seized their equipment after 90 days, he added.
"It's the kind of aggression that you don't normally hear (about), Fraser said. "I've always heard of companies going a year before this happens."
However, he didn't intend to let the situation going on that long, and was working to remedy it, he added.
Though the landlord now has the gym equipment, Fraser is still responsible for the rent, he said.
The NOW could not locate the landlord of the complex before press time. The letter from Fit City claimed the landlord for the building is a numbered account that is owned by the Telus Pension Plan, but the NOW could not confirm that.
Fraser said his company is trying to be as financially responsible as possible, and will not be billing Burnaby members as of Sept 1. Fit City stopped selling prepaid memberships in May, when the possibility of not making the rent first arose.
However, monthly dues members can transfer to the Fit City location in Vancouver at 1401 West Eighth Ave. for half the monthly price, to offset travel costs, according to Fraser. Prepaid members can receive double the time left on their membership at the Vancouver location, or can call and get a refund if they don't wish to transfer.
"We tried our very best," Fraser said of the company's efforts to keep the location open. "But with $25,000 a month bleeding from your pocket, it's very difficult to continue."
Fit City began losing members in Burnaby when the Steve Nash Fitness World and Sports Club opened at 4199 Lougheed Hwy. a few years ago, according to Fraser.
"The numbers were consistent until we had Steve Nash come in and do a slash-and-burn on the price," he said.
Customers who want a refund for prepaid memberships should call 604-733-9991 for more information.
Consumer Protection of B.C. has a posting on its website about the closure. For more information from the not-for-profit corporation, go to www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/corporate-news/1090-gymclosurequestions.