FARMINGTON — A mainstay of fitness and recreation in Farmington for more than 30 years will close its doors for good on Saturday.
Royal Spa and Fitness Center is located in a big beige-and-tan building on Bloomfield Highway. Co-owner Don Pollard confirmed the business would be open for members until Saturday.
"It's now owned by a bankruptcy lawyer — Robert Finch," Pollard said of the gym's closure. "It's hard. I know so many people here — families raised their kids here. I watched them grow up here."
Pollard, 81, bought the land and buildings, including Skate Away USA and Sonya's Cookin USA Restaurant, in 1992. Pollard and his wife, Ann Campbell, have run the business since then, providing swimming, Zumba classes, weight rooms, treadmills and racquetball courts to area residents.
Newer gyms and recreation centers in Farmington have slowly whittled off members from Royal Spa, hurting the business' ability to make a profit.
Daniel Lenzi, a manager at Defined Fitness, a company with gyms in Farmington and Albuquerque, stood at a table in the lobby of Royal Spa on Thursday offering Royal Spa members incentives to sign up with him in the wake of Royal Spa's closing.
"We are offering any Royal Spa member a complimentary free month and waiving the one-time $50 membership," Lenzi said. "We understand that a lot of the people have been coming (to Royal Spa) a lot of years. We're just focused on getting people results and hopefully provide them an easy transition."
Defined Fitness bought Royal Spa's equipment, Lenzi said. Most of it will be shipped to Defined Fitness' four Albuquerque locations and some of it donated to charity.
"They built the (Farmington) Aqautic Center and that took some people (away). (San Juan) College built the (Health & Human Performance Center) and that took some more people," Pollard said. "Nobody's been angry over our closing, but they don't want to see us go. Change is inevitable, but it's not easy."
According to Elizabeth Shull, a Dimmick Realty listing agent, the 61,000 square feet of land and three buildings have been listed for sale for nearly $1.3 million since last April.
The news came as a surprise to Jeff Kimball, 24, who has been an off-and-on member since he was 8 years old. He was working out with free weights and on the treadmill at the gym Thursday. He said he plays racquetball with his 75-year-old grandfather three mornings a week at the gym and he's trying to keep up.
"It's a bummer," Kimball said. "I grew up working out, swimming, coming here. It's a surprise."
Darrell Russell, 42, joined Royal Spa eight months ago. He likes the gym enough to commute from his home in Kirtland for his workouts.
"I came here because I liked the price," Russell said. "But I'm disappointed they're closing. I don't know quite yet what I'll do."
Bloomfield resident Berni Thomason said she will miss the friends she's made at Royal Spa. Thomason showed up Thursday to take a sauna. She was greeted at the door by co-owner Campbell as she was leaving. The two women hugged each other.
"It's the socializing that I'll miss," Thomason said. "I practically raised my kids here, swimming lessons, everything. We connected as a family at this place. We knew everybody's kids. It's sad that this has to end."