Cheetah Gym Closes

The folks over at Chicagoist noticed that something was up with the Bucktown Cheetah Gym location this morning… but what?

It appears as though owner David Wilshire has closed the entire chain due to “Cheetah Gym has been closed due to employee theft and graft.” If you’re a member, now would be a good time to call your bank about stopping any automatic payments, and maybe putting a fraud alert on your credit report. Who knows what “employee theft and graft” encompasses, but it sure doesn’t sound very good.

Update: Comments have been closed because anger and frustration were running a little too high for some people. If you’re out membership money you should write a _polite_ letter requesting a refund and see what happens. If you don’t get one, that’s what small claims court is for. If you have a recurring bill you should contact your bank/credit card company and get it stopped. And either way, find a new gym.

35 Comments so far

  1. Annie (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 1:56 pm

    This is bad! I called and a man at the Andersonville location told me they were permanently closed. Then a letter was up on the site for an hour I think, and then it was taken down. My trainer emailed it to me though, so here it is if you missed it:

    Dear Members:

    Cheetah Gym has been closed due to employee theft and graft. The degree of corruption was enormous. I was left in a position where I could trust no-one or anything. Most of the problems were at the Bucktown facility. Edgewater, I believe, was relatively free of graft. The scams ran the gamut but it looks like I was the sole victim of theft. However, I urge you to get fraud protection as a precaution.

    I do not mean to implicate the entire staff. There were many good and honest people that worked at Cheetah.

    Some will herald this news as good while others will be sad. Others will be very angry. I tried my hardest to save it and take back control but it was clear I would not be allowed that opportunity. I was forced to employ people I thought should be fired and that placed me in a Catch 22. The final straw came yesterday when the RGM left payroll incomplete and I was left to try and finish it as best I could. Many new employees could not be paid because I was not given their information. The RGM should have been the first to be fired. When she quit we were left with many shifts not covered and no-one to cover them. I had hoped to be able to run them long enough to reinstate the infrastructure. But the task was too great.

    You will have to do what you need to do to assert your individual interests. I hope to prosecute the guilty people or at least sue them. But I am likely in the same boat the rest of my staff is in. I am unemployed.

    It was an honor to serve you.

    David Wilshire

    hey cheetah members….do you smell class action lawsuit?

  2. Chris (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

    Lawsuit!! Lawsuit!! Lawsuit!! This whole closure is ridiculous and smells of bullshit. Wilshire has taken his customers money and run with it. Every member who has been left high and dry should be entitled to a refund and full explanation besides that of a whiny poor-me victim letter.

  3. Lou Goldberg (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

    Based on his letter, definitely think something is up here…and yes, class-action suit!!! Saying things were out of his control…that’s BS…as owner, he should be involved in every aspect of his business, capable of hiring and firing when necessary. “Out of his control” is totally unacceptable!!!

  4. Argelius (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

    David Wilshire has a reputation of being rather nutty an volatile. I’m guessing he is bipolar and went off his meds.

    I’m hoping a national (or local) chain comes in and buys up his membership lists and equipment. The Andersonville Cheetah is the only gym in the area — so there are a lot of folks that don’t have any obvious alternative.

  5. Derek (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

    Completely ridiculous. Smells too much like this was a planned thing from the beginning. How do you not realize before it’s too late that there is stealing that severe (“losses were too bad to continue business”) going on??

    Not sure the best way to get a class action going, but I definitely would like to be involved, particularly as a recently new member who just paid all of the upfront dues.

  6. Matt (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

    Jeez. It seems like Wilshire closed the gym so he could devote all his time to a new club for drama queens. It’s too bad for the community that he couldn’t muzzle his own madness and paranoia.

  7. Ellen (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

    You guys. This is so totally ironic. Just yesterday David Wilshire sent me an email telling me where to go because he didn’t want to give me a proper refund. Now the whole world is telling him where to go. Ah…sweet sweet schadenfreude…

  8. Alex (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 4:11 pm

    This really sucks. Cheetah in Bucktown was the best gym within walking distance. If this is just drama, I hope there is a lawsuit.

  9. Katie (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

    So what should members do about this? Can we consider out contract invalid?

  10. Katie (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

    So what should members do about this? Can we consider out contract invalid?

  11. Dan Telfer (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

    Sounds like your best bet, if you’re a ticked off member, is to contact the Andersonville location:

    5838 N Broadway St, Chicago – (773) 907-9628

    -though I have not tried the number, and one can only assume that if they’re answering it at all it’s completely slammed with angry calls!

  12. Dan Telfer (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    Oops, that was the Edgewater location. No idea which is better to call, but for clarity’s sake here is the number for the Andersonville location:

    5248 N Clark St, Chicago – (773) 728-7777

  13. Dan Gaffney (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

    There’s more to this than internal fraud. My bank told me that I can only stop the monthly billing to my acct by closing the account and opening a new one (Chase). Debit transactions are easier to stop and you can file a claim of dispute, which we are doing.

    There’s a market and the equipment…how can we contact the owner? I would buy the gyms and equipment and continue on with them. We need these gyms in the city!

  14. jeff (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

    I had mine charged on credit card monthly…called and had them reimburse sept and to no longer charge from here on out…cant believe this is happening….i hate ballys but guess im going back

  15. pc (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 6:14 pm

    Dave Wilshire is a conniving business owner……think back a few years to the legal issues he had going with his andersonville neighbors. i hope he gets screwed over royally.

  16. Jeni (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 6:49 pm

    Wow. This is so crazy! I had TEN personal training sessions that I’d payed for! That’s about $500! Ironically, last time I went, just a few days ago, they gave me a receipt showing that I had ten left. This was the first receipt that I’d ever gotten, and they said it was a new policy to give out receipts. Sadly, I didn’t keep it. Seriously though, there must be some recourse for us!

  17. Ellen (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

    I suggest filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission:$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01

    And the Better Business Bureau:

    He’s such a baby that I’m sure he will try to get out of paying us all back anyway…maybe he’ll just give us each a treadmill to take home.

  18. Niko (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

    Zonkers, what heck? If you cant run a business yourself then hire someone to do it for you. As for his payroll nonsense, HELLO there are companies out there and one callled ADP that can help you! As for not being able to fire someone. Illinois is an “At Will” state. Meaning you can quit or be fired at anytime. I’ve done this at my job. Ok David here is a business lession for you.

    1. Document all employee infractions
    2. Present them to said employee
    3. Give warning
    4. Fire

    And lastly, DONT take this out on your loyal customers. Sign me up for the lawsuit.

  19. ellen (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 10:28 pm

    someone (not me) started a class action discussion forum…

    i don’t know what will come of it.

  20. Maryann (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 12:56 am

    I smell a well-planned bankruptcy. Hypothetically speaking, owner rips off his own business, convinces bankruptcy trustee someone else did the stealing, owner walks away with no personal liability. Just a thought.

  21. An overly joyed former client (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 8:29 am

    check out his once fancy signature file:


    Wild Kingdom Fitness Enterprises, Inc. dba Cheetah Gym
    5248 N. Clark Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60640
    Fax: 773-728-0662
    Wilshire Cell: 773-851-2676
    Personal Fax: 773-381-2075

    Cheetah Gym Bucktown/Wicker Park
    Jungle Gym Fitness Inc.
    1934 W. North Avenue

    Cheetah Gym Edgewater
    Wilshire Ent., Inc.
    5836-40 N. Broadway

    Cheetah Gym Logan Square
    2616-2618 N. Milwaukee

    DJW Property Development, Inc.

    Energia Inc.

    The list of corporations above shall be referred to as “The Company(s)”.
    Employee refers to anyone employed, or formerly employed by the company(s).
    These company(s) have exclusive rights to the company(s) computer systems, programs and their usage including all email systems that are used by the company(s). All rights of an employee to privacy who uses company(s) computers are waived by the employee. Email systems are only allowed to be used to further the company(s) business. Personal emails are not allowed. Web surfing on company time is not allowed. Authorization may be granted by Ownership alone to violate these rules and said authorization must be given in writing. The company(s) have the right to monitor, intercept, and record emails.

  22. laura (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 8:31 am

    did anyone else notice that on saturday at the bucktown location, there were new bars set outside the front doors with a huge padlock. I only noticed it because you could no longer open the front doors completely. I agree that this was pre-planned and the owner is now trying to get away without taking any responsibility.

  23. Jessica (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

    I will like to say things do happen and David got screwed… You may think it is a scam but remember he lost more then you! Time will tell and you will see the truth in all this.

  24. Jessica (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

    I will like to say things do happen and David got screwed… You may think it is a scam but remember he lost more then you! Time will tell and you will see the truth in all this.

  25. Bruce (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

    Let’s wait and see what happens here before YOU start slandering David.( One lawsuit at a time) Most members are out only one months dues. Sorry you’re not able to use the cycle for awhile. Maybe redirect your anger transferece towards the individual employees of Cheetah that created this whole mess. Let’s have some member support for David and help him get our gym back!

  26. Carsten (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

    Sorry to hear what happened. I am a trainer in the River north area.
    Maybe I can help.

  27. ronnie (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

    According to the CBS news web site David said that if you send a certified letter to the Andersonville location he would refund your money. Its worth a try.

  28. Deborah (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

    If you are charging your monthly dues to a credit card, you MUST cancel the card! I called my bank today (Citibank) and they advised that I immediately close the account. If you’re with Citibank, they will send you additional paperwork to protect yourself from any fraudulent charges. I also suggest printing out any and all related articles about this story as a form of proof to send to your credit card company for any September Cheetah Gym charges you will want to dispute.

  29. angela (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

    I am a personal trainer in the Andersonville area…AthletiCo. Let me know if you want a trainer!

  30. not jessica (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

    jessica, honey, posting it twice don’t make it true!

  31. Marlena (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

    Here is a David Wilshire rant from 2005 re: Farraguts.

    it will make you laugh laugh laugh! This guy is the KING OF THE RUN ON SENTENCES.

  32. Anna (unregistered) on September 7th, 2007 @ 2:40 am

    buy a cheat-yah t shirt??

  33. Laughing out loud!!! (unregistered) on September 7th, 2007 @ 9:35 am

    David, we always knew you were a big girl, now you are calling yourself “Jessica”??

    I will like to say things do happen and David got screwed… You may think it is a scam but remember he lost more then you! Time will tell and you will see the truth in all this.

    Posted by: Jessica at September 6, 2007 01:53 PM

    If you read through the blogs there are literally hundreds and hundreds of responses. The few that are supportive are clearly you!!!!!!! Do us all a favor and give everyone their money back and leave town.

  34. Sammy (unregistered) on September 7th, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

    What Is Going On With All Of You? IT’s ONLY A GYM MEMBERSHIP YOU’RE OUT FOR ONE MONTH!! The Concerns Should Be Coming From New Memebers Who Forked Over “($200-$300, Last I Checked It Was $O Initiation Fee $59/Mo.)” The So Called “Rant” Letter Sounds Justified To Me. Do You Really Believe David Had Something, Anything, Other Than Poor Operational Management, To Do With The Clubs Closing. Who Could He Trust To Keep Open?? Now He Can’t Even Count On His Members. If You Had Personal Issues With Him, It Didn’t Stop You From Joining and Working Out In His Gym. Let’s Grow Up, Stop The “Girl” Name Calling and SLANDER!! Hanndle This Like Mature Adults. Some Of You Sound Like You Have Other Personal Issues You Need To Be dealing With. If You Are Concerned With You ID Theft, Maybe Don’t RUSH Right Out To The Vulture’s That Were Swarming The Club Getting You To Sign up With Them. Beware Of The Info You Need To Give Any Health Club,(Soc # Drivers Lic # Bank Acct To Pay Etc) It Could ALL Happen Again.

  35. Bruce (unregistered) on September 7th, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

    I’m with Sammy, Let David and his lawyers deal with this. Enough with name calling and venting your anger. Save it for election year.

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