Naperville residents voice their ire over Edward-Elmhurst fitness center closing at council meeting

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A week after learning Edward-Elmhurst Health was closing its Naperville fitness center at the end of March, nearly a dozen club members aired their grievances about the decision at the Naperville City Council meeting Tuesday.

Before they spoke, Mayor Steve Chirico told members the city has no jurisdictional authority over actions taken by private businesses like Edward-Elmhurst Health but that didn’t matter to the 11 people who used the forum to voice their opposition to the decision.

Also read into the council record were 17 letters from other people who felt the same way and want Edward-Elmhurst officials to reconsider closing the 755 Brom Drive facility on the Edward Hospital campus.

Speakers noted they’d been voicing their ire for the past week, and were happy to learn a representative from Edward-Elmhurst Health was in the audience.

Many talked about how the Naperville facility has become an institution knitted into the fabric of the community.

When Edward Health and Fitness was built in 1988 under the direction of newly appointed CEO Pam Davis, it was the first medically-based fitness center in DuPage County. Davis retired in 2016, but the fitness center carried on until this year.

Colin Dalough, manager of community and government relations for Edward-Elmhurst Health, also spoke at the meeting and attributed the decision to membership declines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We estimate roughly 20% of our total volume in paid customers decreased over that time,” Dalough said.

Members can move to the health system’s Seven Bridges facility in Woodridge, which matches the services and opportunities available at that Edward center and is only 15 minutes away, he said.

Because the pool is a popular amenity at the Naperville location, Dalough said, Seven Bridges is expanding aquatic-based services. A full schedule will be announced in the middle of March, he said.

“We remain committed to working with partners, both the city of Naperville as well as residents that use our facilities,” Dalough said.

He said he’s spoken with people who are members of the facility and will continue listening to concerns to help determine what the health system can do to accommodate their needs.

People can send comments via email to

Nancy Ryan, a resident of Naperville for 45 years, said three generations of her family have benefited from the center, which she described as a one-of-a-kind resource that is essential to the health and well-being of the community.

Many speakers cited the camaraderie of working out with hospital doctors and staff and the friendships that have developed over the years.

Member Liz Beutel called the fitness center was a nonjudgmental space.

Fellow center member Daniel Blumen said he understood Edward-Elmhurst shouldn’t have to run the facility at a financial loss, and he would gladly volunteer to find ways to help them make it work.

To the board that made the decision, Blumen said, “Maybe you were a little hasty about this and, with careful thought, it might be worth your time (to revisit it).”

Councilwoman Jennifer Bruzan Taylor said she too is upset.

“That’s the second gym that has closed on our family in the last few years, the first one being the YMCA downtown,” Taylor said.

She was glad a representative of Edward-Elmhurst attended the council meeting to hear what people had to say.

“I hope they will take the commentary they’re hearing, see the petition that is going through, and understand the huge impact their decision is having on so many members of the community,” Taylor said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 2,700 people had signed the online petition to keep the facility open.

While the council is unable to take any action, Councilman Ian Holzhauer said another function of the council chambers is serve as a town hall.

“When something that is wrong happens in a community, you come out in public and let people know,” Holzhauer said.

This is a message not only to the health provider involved in this situation, he said, but in reference to community values moving forward.

“The next time someone is thinking about making a decision like this without notifying anyone, with no warning, maybe they’ll think twice out it,” Holzhauer said.