NASHVILLE, TN — It didn't take long for Manny Butera of Total Fitness Systems, a club management company with a chain of Fitness Express clubs, to start promoting his facilities again after a December Chapter 11 filing. The filing liquidated five of the company's clubs in Atlanta and two in Huntsville, AL. It also liquidated a tanning salon owned by the company. However, Butera's eight clubs in Tennessee now operate as Fuel Fitness Clubs.

“I had investors, and the investors decided that they could not fund the organization anymore,” Butera says about the bankruptcy.

He will soon offer a plan for the company to the bankruptcy court for approval.

Butera plans to upgrade his facilities with new equipment, new decor, new tanning beds and new group exercise classes. He will pay for the upgrades with a club enhancement fee that he charges to members, he says.

Butera's management business is still in operation, but it has “taken somewhat of a hit” with the filing, he says. He is focusing mostly on the eight clubs he owns now.

“The caveat to all of this is be careful what you do and who you do it with because we had what I would call a leveraged growth plan, which is fine if you have a lot of capital behind you — which I did — but you can't control circumstances out of your control,” Butera says.

Butera previously was World Gym's largest franchisee, but he is no longer affiliated with the franchise after management at Planet Fitness, which purchased World Gym in October, and Butera jointly decided not to renew his license, he says.