Mumbai: Leena Mogre shuts Bandra gym, members, landlord want money back
Signing up for celebrity trainer Leena Mogre’s eponymous fitness studio in Bandra West has been an exercise in futility — and anguish — for many of its members. Several of them on May 16 approached the Khar police, alleging that they were not given any prior intimation of the closure of the gym — Leena Mogre’s Fitness — for maintenance on April 7 and that they were pressed into renewing their memberships just before the shutdown.
Celebrity fitness trainer Leena Mogre. File pics
They claimed that Mogre only put up a notice outside her gym, on the fourth floor of the five-storey Crystal Shoppers’ Paradise, saying it was being shut for air-conditioning maintenance work and that members would be informed when it re-opened.
A notice outside the gym saying it is closed for maintenance
The police’s response has singed the members further — they were reportedly told to approach the consumer court.
The members’ complaint, a copy of which is with mid-day, states, “…we have been cheated and duped of our money due to the abrupt and sudden closure of the gym, wef 7th April 2016, without any prior intimation to members. We request you… to get the gym re-opened at the same premises or refund the membership fees...” It has been signed by 11 members.
Celebrity fitness trainer Leena Mogre
Jaideep Saptarshi, one of the complainants, claimed that Mogre owes him a refund of around Rs 5,000 in gym membership. “We were disappointed that the Khar police did not convert our complaint into at least a non-cognizable (NC) offence. They told us to go to the consumer court. Everybody knows that there is a consumer court, but the police are the first custodians of justice,” he said, adding that he has no personal vendetta against Mogre.
Mogre claimed that she doesn’t owe Saptarshi more than Rs 3,000. “I know there is a group of people trying to defame me. I am going to take legal action against those who are trying to do so.”
Gracie Fernandes, whose membership had lapsed just before the fitness studio closed, said the gym management had mounted pressure on her to renew her membership.
Pramod Kulchandani, another complainant, said he has seven to eight months of his annual membership of Rs 21,000 left. “The date for the gym’s re-opening keeps getting pushed back. The latest we heard was that the gym was re-opening on May 15. Leena Mogre is taking everybody for a ride.” Mogre disputes this accusation, saying she has been sending SMSes to members, assuring them that she would refund their money.
Esha Punjabi is holding on to this promise. “I joined the gym in December last year. My mother’s membership began this April and the gym closed a week after that. I’m banking on getting refunds.”
Building an empire
Leena Mogre was touted to be the first female personal fitness expert when she started out in 1997. She runs a chain of gyms in Mumbai, Nashik and Chandigarh and is the go-to consultant for celebrities like Madhuri Dixit, Anil Ambani, Salman Khan, Vidya Balan, John Abraham, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut. Last August, she had objected to posters of couples kissing that dotted Bandra’s streets. The ‘perpetrators’ hit back by pasting more such posters at her gym.
Rent of Rs 2.25 crore due
A spokesperson from the accounts department of Harsh Kaushal Developers, which is part of the Crystal Group of Companies — builders of Crystal Shoppers’ Paradise in Bandra — said Leena Mogre owes the firm around Rs 2.25 crore in rent. “The rent is Rs 12 lakh per month. We locked the gym after giving her enough time to pay. We were in talks with her for six months, but she admitted that she couldn’t afford to pay. So, we have put a lock on the gym. Leena has deposited the key with us.”
Mogre says her rent dues have been exaggerated. “This is an absolutely wrong figure. Rubbish, in fact! We are sorting out various issues. This gym started in the mall three years ago. Just after we shifted, for 18 months, the lift and escalators stopped working. I lost 70% of my members because of that. I have to still be given a credit note for that loss.” Mogre alleged that the false ceiling in the men’s changing room in the gym had fallen because of leakage from above. There are maintenance problems in the building, she added.
Fury on social media
The Leena Mogre Fitness page on Facebook has a number of complaints slamming the gym management. One Anuj Agarwal, in a post dated April 21, writes: “Gym closed for 20 days and no one knows if it will open or not… Ppl just come and are sent back as they don’t care to even inform members reason for closing...! This is followed by an update which says, ‘nearly one month’ and not even ready to refund money.” Another FB user, Honey Pujari, echoes the sentiment, saying, “already paid them for a year last month... not sure when or will they start??? There are number of supportive comments for Leena Mogre, too.