Owner of Keene Fitness closing Richland gym Aug. 20

In two weeks, the last 300 members of Keene Fitness in Richland will have to find somewhere else to work out. Owner Jeff McClure will be selling his equipment and closing the business Aug. 20.

But he'll be going out with a smile for all the loyal members who stood by him when Gold's Gym moved in next door.

He opened Keene Fitness five years ago.

"When I opened the gym, people were leaving the big gyms to come to the smaller ones. Our first two years were awesome," he said.

"We were up to 800 members before Gold's Gym moved in this year, and then we lost 500 members. I simply can't compete. ... I'm just a tiny gym," McClure said.

Brett Howell, general manager of the Richland and Kennewick Gold's Gyms, said, "McClure's members have been very loyal. We didn't see an uptick in memberships coming over from his gym until he announced he was closing."

McClure said the cost of rent was the main factor in his decision to close.

"When I signed the lease five years ago, the market for leased space was fairly high but then the economy was pretty good too. That's not the situation now," said McClure, who is trying to sell his equipment to help pay off a business loan.

McClure said some other smaller gyms in the Tri-Cities are offering his clients deals to join. They include Broadmoor Fitness in Pasco, Fit For Me Womens Fitness 24/7 in Richland and Club 24 Express Fitness with gyms in Kennewick, Richland and West Richland.

Kris Marston, manager of the south Richland Club 24 gym, said, "We want to make the transition as easy and uncomplicated for them as possible."

She said the closure of Keene Fitness "is such a bummer. While it's nice to get the extra business it's never good to see a locally owned company going out of business."

McClure, who was born and raised in the Tri-Cities, has no intention of leaving the area.

He also is a commercial beekeeper. During spring and early summer he takes his 1,200 hives to Mid-Columbia farms and orchards. Later, they're trucked to Montana to pollinate the fields there.

"There's also income from the honey," he said.

McClure opened the gym to give him something to do in the winters when the bees are dormant.

He plans to concentrate on his bee business, set some money aside and open another gym in a few years.

"In the meantime, I'll lick my wounds," McClure said.