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Gym Closes; Furniture Store Expands

World’s Gym has closed its Sterling location temporarily while Belfort Furniture expands.

Billy Davis, 43, of Sterling, is dedicated to his workout at World’s Gym Fitness Center, so he plans to commute to Leesburg for at least two months until a closer gym opens.

It is not surprising that Davis, a former St. Louis Cardinals football player — before the team became the Arizona Cardinals — takes his workout seriously. His current job with the Secret Service also requires fitness. “You have to keep in shape,” he said. “You have to keep your body working. It’s a piece of machinery.”

Davis has been attending the World’s Gym in Old Sterling for five years. The business shut its doors the day after Christmas, to make room for Belfort Furniture’s expansion. World Gym owners Michele and David Barlock, who had been leasing property from Belfort, plan to open a 10,000-square-foot fitness center in Ashburn on Red Rum Road in March. They plan to open a 20,000-square-foot gym on Ridgetop Circle in Sterling after they obtain a zoning permit.

Meanwhile, Davis and other members will drive to the World Gym Fitness Center at the Battlefield Shopping Center in Leesburg. The gym is open from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. “There is no excuse,” he said. “It’s like a car. If you don’t change the oil, change the tires, it’ll break down on you. It’s the same way with the body.”

Michele Barlock said most of her customers were planning to use the weight machines in Leesburg. “The largest majority are very understanding. … Members are so loyal. But you are always going to have some who are upset with the change.”

SHE AND HER HUSBAND first started notifying members about the eventual move a year ago. “We were supposed to be in the Sterling building in October so there would be no disruption at all,” she said. It turned out the building was not zoned for a fitness center, and they have to go through the county permit process for a change in zoning.

“We didn’t anticipate getting in a lease issue. Our landlord extended as long as he could,” she said.

Scott Davis, Sterling’s general manager, said the move is positive for two reasons. One is that the Sterling location had lost its easy access. With the interchange at Church Road and Route 28, and the increasing traffic, it was taking longer for members to get to the fitness center. “Getting into the gym was very difficult,” he said. “People were saying, “I love your gym, but it wasn’t convenient.”

The new locations will be more suitable, Barlock said. “Honestly, this is the best thing for our members.” She said she had not determined how much the business will lose financially because of the temporary closing.

At least one other gym has offered a discount for members who do not want to make the trek, she said. “The piranhas come out,” she said. “That’s business. We understand that’s the nature of the competition.”

THE BARLOCKS GAVE their 30 part-time employees the opportunity to pick up shifts at the Leesburg facility. World’s Gym had about 3,000 members in Sterling.

Meanwhile, Belfort Furniture is planning to turn the 20,000 square feet into a Broyhill gallery showcase, said spokeswoman Rebecca Gardner. “Belfort Furniture is Washington’s largest Broyhill Dealer and America’s largest Pennsylvania House dealer.”

Michael Huber, Belfort Furniture’s CEO, said the free-standing gallery would feature bedroom, living room and dining room furniture. “We also are preparing to break ground on an additional 80,000-square-foot warehouse. These expansions will bring an even greater selection of stylish home furnishings to our customers, with an emphasis on in-stock furniture,” he said.

The warehouse, which will be used for storage purposes only, will be on Cedar Green Road in Dulles.

The showcase will be completed in stages with the full gallery opening in June, Gardner said. Belfort will sell products on clearance from a portion of the building later this month. “It’s a good way for us to sell products, and it gives customers a real bargain," she said.

Belfort opened 17 years ago at the Fair Oaks Mall. It then moved to Towerview Road in Herndon. Finally, it moved to Shaw Road in Old Sterling 10 years ago. Hubert built corporate offices in 2002. In April 2004, he opened a Lazy Boy and mattress showroom on the property near the fitness center.