Office of Consumer Protection investigating former Punahou gym o - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Office of Consumer Protection investigating former Punahou gym owner

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the back of a Food Land parking lot, former Punahou Fitness Center owner Jason Maxwell handed one of his old clients $660.

"For what it's worth I never made a penny, never," said Maxwell.
 
On March 1, the gym folded. But in the weeks leading up to that, Maxwell began promoting sales on memberships.  In mid-January, Ki Yeo, along with several of her friends, wrote checks for a year's worth of dues.
 
"He asked me don't write in the pay order column.  We going to just stamp.  So I believe him," said Yeo.
 
When she looked at her bank statement, she noticed Maxwell had made the check out to himself and deposited it into his personal account.
 
Hawaii News Now asked Maxwell why he decided to give Yeo her money back but not do the same for anyone else.  Maxwell said, "Because I
feel personally responsible and because my name was on it."
 
Maxwell also had a reason for asking customers not to write in the pay to the order line on their checks.
 
"I was paying bills out of my own personal checking account so the moneys were funneled into my account not to be taken personally," said Maxwell.

Officials from the Office of Consumer Protection says Punahou Fitness Center is under investigation after the agency along with the Better Business Bureau received more than a half dozen complaints.
 
Two weeks ago the gym reopened as Volcanic Climbing and Fitness. Although it's under new ownership you can still find Maxwell behind the counter.

We reached out to the Owner of Volcanic Fitness & Climbing. Marshall Wells sent us this statement:

“We understand there has been a complaint made to the Better Business Bureau against Volcanic Climbing and Fitness ("VCF") relating
to the company that previously operated a gym in VCF's Punahou location, Punahou Fitness Center ("PFC") and its Manager, Jason Maxwell.  We understand that Jason did everything he could to keep PFC open to ensure there would be a place for the mature crowd to continue on with their health and fitness regimen.  That included selling memberships up until he realized the gym could just not survive.  The PFC account was frozen and in order to pay the bills, he needed to do so from his personal account.  Monies paid for memberships were not used for his personal expenses.

Jason is not an employee of VCF.  However, we have asked him to assist us as an independent trainer consultant for our new gym.  Jason has over 20 years of fitness experience, and is highly valued by our members and customers for his training and fitness expertise.  He asked VCF to offer an appropriate credit to the prior members of his gym and in recognition of the difficulty suffered by prior gym members due to the closing of PFC, we have come up with a program to offer significantly discounted rates to the prior gym's members.  We encourage prior members to visit or call us for details.”
 
Still some customers aren't sure what to think.
 
"I don't want to go there," said Yeo.    

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