Members say they either want the fitness centre to stay open or refund their money; earlier this month MiD DAY had reported the sealing of a part of True Fitness gym in Andheri following allegations of irregularities
These days, patrons of the high-profile True Fitness gym are burning calories doing the rounds of the local police station. MiD DAY broke the story on March 10 ('Celebs out in the cold as gym sealed') about a part of the establishment being sealed due to alleged non-payment of rent to Kaushal Doshi, director of Harsh Kaushal Corporation, which owns the Crystal Point Mall where the health club is situated.
MiD DAY report on March 10
The deadlock has left the 9,000 gym members -- many of them Bollywood stars -- worried, as their money is at stake. They have formed a committee of 55, headed by social activist and owner of a security agency Monaj Williams, and lodged a complaint of cheating at Amboli police station on behalf of all the clients against the gym management.
"In the complaint we have written that we have been kept in the dark by the gym management about the litigation and we feel cheated. We either want the gym to run, or refund our money in case it shuts," Williams said. Williams who has been a member since the inception of the gym, however, wishes both parties to do a settlement. "We want this issue to be resolved. I had a meeting with the mall owner who is ready to sit across the table and settle the matter. But no one from the gym management is available. Director Nicholas Kraal has disappeared. He hasn't come to the gym for the last one week."
Reportedly, the CEO of the gym, Patrick Wee, lives in Singapore, and Kraal, who was running the gym in India, has not been seen for the last few days. Gym members and staffers say he had stopped coming to the establishment after the sealing episode.
When we went to Kraal's residence, at 2906 B wing, Oberoi Springs, Andheri (West), his domestic help Shravan told us, "Sir left a few days ago. He has taken most of his belongings along and the rest of it will be sent in the coming days." We saw boxes of packed possessions strewn around. The teenage boy didn't know where exactly Kraal has gone, but said, "Sir is not in the country. His local number is not working."
He called up Kraal's personal assistant at the gym and put us on the line with him. But on finding out our identity, the assistant refused to share any details of Kraal's whereabouts. A gym member, on the condition of anonymity, said, "He has quietly left the country and gone to Singapore to meet Patrick Wee to sort out the matter. Due to the ongoing case there were chances of him getting arrested and his passport being seized. He knew it was best for him to leave this country.
"There is a buzz that the whole gym will be sealed by March 31. If the establishment shuts down, who is going to refund our money? We are worried. The owner of the mall has put up a notice outside True Fitness saying he is not responsible for the fees of gym members if the establishment shuts shop permanently. We are going to the consumer court and filling a case against the gym owners."
The sudden disappearing act of Kraal has created unrest among the staffers too. An employee (name withheld on request) of the gym shared his worries with MiD DAY. "All the staffers are worried about their salaries. We don't know what's happening. Nick has stopped coming to the gym and we hear he is not in the country. The management has told us not to worry and there are three guys who will take charge in his absence," he said.
I'm in Mumbai: Kraal
after repeated attempts by MiD DAY over several days found Nicholas Kraal's phone switched off, he called us back and claimed, "I am very much in Mumbai but I have been advised to relocate to another place till the matter is resolved as there is a chance that I may be attacked." So why is there a rumour that he is in Singapore? "We ourselves have spread it. Since our head office is in Singapore and we don't have another office in India people assume that I have gone there," he said. Asked why he didn't go to the police to get protection, he added, "It's not that I don't trust the Mumbai police, but I wanted to protect myself on my own." Asked if he could meet us, he initially refused, citing security reasons. "I will be able to meet after Friday," he finally said.