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I found out that I will be playing Zoe in the one-act my husband and I wrote. We can’t find anyone available or with a normal schedule. I really didn’t want to be in it. This is the first time a work I was involved in is being performed. I wanted to get excited and watch. Zoe is a serious character. SIGH.  My mind is working overtime now. I have to learn these lines in addition to taking care of all my responsibilities with school and interning. I can’t complain really though. Good things are starting to happen at least! I know I have changed. I still may have my wit and humor but I am not the same person I was at the beginning months of 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4VwhQlf1cc  I want to continue to write. I work so better with structure and deadlines. Anyone out there want to push me? 🙂 I would kill for an agent or something to give me deadlines.

Oh man. I just read that  39-year-old Joseph Cerniglia who owns Campania in Fair Lawn killed himself over debt. He is leaving behind a wife and 3 kids. That’s a shame. His restaurant was on Season 2 of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. That’s the second person to commit suicide that was on one of Gordon Ramsey’s shows. YIKES! While I am sure Joseph Cerniglia’s debts were way more than ours were when we owned the fitness facility, I certainly understand the stress of the debt. You honestly don’t understand or know the sinking feeling and feeling of failure that overcomes you.  There have been people who have owned the same franchise I owned that have committed suicide because they felt like there was no way out. When you tell people about it and they answer, “I can imagine,” they really can’t. You don’t know how it feels to almost lose a marriage and in this case a life because overwhelming amounts of debt. I am not even going to pretend I understand what his family is going through right now. It’s a shame. It’s sad. My heart goes out to the Cerniglia family especially his kids.

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During the week we lost Tweetie, we shut down the franchise. Another domino down. We had met with our bankruptcy counsel and had the petition filed. This was our third attorney. She was a very get the job done and matter of fact individual. She advised us not to notify our employees, clients, or landlord we were filing bankruptcy and shutting the business down. She wanted us to just put a note in the window or have the locks changed. While I agreed with not notifying the landlord, I didn’t agree with not notifying the clients. We set a date of February 6, 2009 to shut the doors for good. I typed up a letter and mailed them out to all the clients on a Friday. I also contacted all the employees and said we were going to have a meeting Saturday after we closed at noon. By the time we got to the gym Saturday morning, all the employees had already found out because the first thing some of the clients did when they got their letters was of course call “Devri” and complain. When my husband and I explained our personal situation, how we couldn’t do it anymore, how the corporation was of no help, how our attorney advised us to not even give notice and how losing my father put a lot in perspective, “Devri” responded with a VERY selfish comment. But what else was new . . . This woman had the audacity to say to us “I wish you would have told me this the other day. My husband is in Italy. I purposely didn’t go because there wasn’t anyone to work. I sacrificed the trip. I could be in Italy right now.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? My response? “Um well, I just lost my father so no disrespect to you, but I really wasn’t thinking about people’s vacations.” Pardon my French, but what balls! To add to her character flaws, she had the nerve to steal supplies that WE purchased in addition to member folders in order to pass them out to those that wished to go to another facility. Her mentality that she ran the place continued even to the day we shut the doors. When the employees left and we realized what she did, my husband left an unpleasant voicemail on her cell phone. We called our attorney and told her what “Devri” did. Our attorney said we could have filed a police report. We decided against that because we still had to live in the next town over. We put a “Closed due to bankruptcy” sign on the door and left. That was the last time we ever saw the women’s fitness facility again. The albatross was slowing removing itself from our necks.

I had to have all the utilities turned off. Before I had the phone disconnected, I checked the voicemail. There were at least 6 on the machine. I only listened to one because I knew that these trust fund babies felt a sense of entitlement to know ahead of time and were only going to degrade us for doing what was in our best interest. God forbid!  The one voice mail from one of the clients said she didn’t appreciate how we did this. She said she understood why but that customers were loyal to us. Who was she kidding? The women’s loyalty was to “Devri” just like “Devri’s” loyalty was to them. They never participated in any of the promotions I had going on in terms of bringing in friends to workout or to try the circuit workout itself. It was social hour and time to get away from their husbands and be with the girls. They didn’t care if my husband and I were struggling. I think they expected us to stay open regardless.  

With all this going on, I had to make time to study for my Praxis exam which was taking place about 5 weeks after the closing of the gym. That’s all I focused on. I threw myself into studying and attending workshops for extra help. I had to keep myself busy to get my mind off everything else. During my study time, we received our letter from the court. The bankruptcy court date was a week after the Praxis. Can you see the domino pattern here?

Through all this, there was one positive. My best friend was pregnant for the first time with her daughter – My God daughter.


At this point with the garbage the Corporation was pulling, there wasn’t any way we could survive keeping this business open. The bank wouldn’t refinance our business loan, we were getting no help from the corporation, I had lost my job, and the only money coming in on my end was from unemployment. We had no choice. We had to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and shut the franchise down. We had to file two separate bankruptcy cases – personal and business because we made personal guarantees on the franchise and the loan. Honestly we had no idea we had made a personal guarantee. We were counting on our small business consultant to be just that – our consultant and let us know what we were getting into. As I stated a few posts up, he dropped us after the meeting we had behind his back with Kevin about prepays. The first attorney never cared. She just wanted to make the firm money. Our second attorney we hired kept saying we didn’t have enough evidence or money to file a lawsuit. There was no other way out of this. We contacted a bankruptcy attorney and started the ball rolling with the corporation to shut down the franchise. Of course the corporation wasn’t returning phone calls at first with our attorney. They were trying to bleed us just a little bit more. After we received the necessary paperwork from the franchise, we filled it out, made copies of all our debts, and prepared it for the attorney.

During this time, the New York Giants had made the playoffs. This was 2009 meaning season ending 2008. The year before they had won the Superbowl. We are season ticket holders. My husband and I split the season with my father and my brothers. One thing about our family is that we are HUGE New York Giants fans. My father never went to a playoff game. His big thing he always said was he wanted to go to a playoff game before he died. It was on his bucket list. My father and I went to the playoff game vs the Eagles on January 11, 2009. Incidentally, my father had recovered pretty well from the heart attack and hospital visits. They had put a stent in, he was working out, taking his meds, and eating right. He even lost 20 pounds. Out of nowhere, he started falling into old patterns – Drinking wine every night, smoking his cigars, not going for follow-up blood work and he stopped going to the gym where he was being monitored. He chose to play racquetball instead with my uncle. Should a heart patient be playing racquetball? 

While we were on our way to our bankruptcy attorney’s office on January 22, 2009, my husband’s cell phone rang. The next thing I knew he was pulling up a side street not far from our attorney’s office. He parked the car and just kept saying,”Ok. Ok. Ok.” He grabbed my hand and squeezed it and started breathing heavy. I thought something happen to his mom who lives out in Illinois who is in her late 70s. My husband hung up the phone, looked at me, and said, “Your dad is gone.” I asked what he meant by that. He told me that the phone call he received was from my father’s best friend Dave telling him that my father passed away. My half brother who has P.D.D. (Pervasive Development Disorder) found him dead in his recliner when he got home from school. Dave didn’t want my husband to tell me right away. He wanted my husband to lie to me and say he was really sick because he thought I would lose my mind. My father’s group wanted to say when we got to his house that he got really sick and just didn’t make it. Of course my husband wasn’t going to lie to me. In any case, I was in disbelief! How could this have happened? The cardiologist said he was doing great. My heart was pounding in my chest. I texted my friends and called my mother at work.  Even though my parents were divorced and my father remarried and had two sons with my stepmother, my mother never stopped caring about him. She started yelling NO and started to cry. We turned the car around, called our bankruptcy attorney, told her what happened and we had to reschedule. My father’s friends kept calling my husband to find out where we were because individuals came to take my father’s body out of the house. My stepmother wouldn’t let them take him until we arrived to say our goodbyes. We were probably about 45 minutes away. I couldn’t wrap my brain around this.

When we arrived to my father’s house, family and friends were on the porch of my father’s house. My uncle (my dad’s half brother) approached me, hugged me, and said he was laying on the floor and it looked like he was sleeping. My husband took my hand and we went into the house. My dad’s lifeless body was in sweatpants and a t-shirt on the floor. My stepgrandmother was on one couch and my stepmother was standing up with friends. They all exited the room so my husband and I could have a moment alone with him. I stood with my arms wrapped tightly around my husband and we both talked to my father. As much as I wanted to kneel down and kiss his head or get closer, I just couldn’t. (I’m actually crying as I am typing this because I am reliving it all over again). 

To be continued  . . .


You may ask why we didn’t phone the Franchise corporation duiring all this. We did. They did NOTHING to help. It was more or less a “Too bad so sad” situation. They did not want to hear you weren’t making any money. They didn’t care. As long as they were EFTing your advertising fees and franchise fees every month, to hell with the owners who are making them this money.

My specific franchise went through 3 different local directors. We never even had one of them come to the franchise until 2.5 years into it. The woman wasn’t even our state director. She was the Connecticut director. She had never driven a NJ U-turn before and called our gym in hysterics.

At the same time, the company was coming out with digitalized equipment that would have cost franchisees $5,000.00 plus a fee every month. This company was money hungry. Anyway, when the Connecticut director showed up, I had my best employee out on the floor doing her thing while the director watched clients to see if we trained them with proper form. When the gym closed for the day, my husband and I sat down with this woman. Of course the first thing she tried to do was get us to buy the new equipment. We were like “Yeah um with what?” She got into the “You have to spend money to make money” garbage. How can one spend what one does not have? The corporation’s philosophy I was finding out from other owners was do what you have to do to get money and keep your business afloat. If that meant a home equity loan or draining your savings, so be it. If you had to borrow it, beg, steal, lie, or more or less prostitute yourself, you better do it. If owners’ franchises didn’t make money, the Corporation franchise fee goes down.  In addition, they charged this ridiculous advertising fee every month. Where the hell was the advertising? If you saw one commercial every few months that was a lot.  During this meeting with the Connecticut director, she was explaining how we should give away two month memberships with a  guest pass. She wrote down some notes and said she was going to have our regular state director come up with a game plan and that we would be getting a phone call to help us. We NEVER received a phone call. Membership just kept declining. I even tried giving away almost 100 free 2 month memberships to women in the local school district. They enjoyed the free two months but when their gift certificates expired, none of them joined. It was hopeless.

At this point, we started looking into shutting the franchise down. Oh my God you can’t even imagine what the corporation puts you through. If you break your franchise agreement, they charge you a $10,000 penalty plus all your back franchise and advertising fees for the remainder of your agreement. If you refused to pay them, a lien would be placed on your property or in our case whatever we owned. I found that if this was placed on us and we bought a house in the future, a lien would be placed on future property. The only way out of paying them their money and be totally free of this albatross was to file bankruptcy. During these discussions, higher ups kept trying to talk me into selling the gym for a penny. I’m sorry. You want me to incur lawyer fees for a transaction to sell the franchise for a penny so that the corporation keeps making money while I’m losing my shirt? As they say on ESPN, “COME ON MAN!” This is supposed to be a franchise based on religious individuals? You must be joking! Doesn’t it say in the Bible to “Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”


As the closing on the franchise got closer “Phil” who told us in the beginning he would work with us every quarter to make sure we were on the right track, removed himself from our situation. He kept asking for the balance of his money and expected us to buy him an expensive bottle of scotch. The money we gave him. The scotch? Uh no! He turned out to be just like everyone else involved. 

“Kevin” forgot to disclose the fact that training for the franchise was mandatory and that I would have to go to Texas for 5 days for training on my own expense.  It seems “Kevin” forgot to tell us a lot of things.  I found it odd that a corporation would not pay travel and board expenses when they made training mandatory. I had to pay for my own airfare, my own hotel, and my own food and transportation. Do you know at they even charged you a quarter for water at the training facility? A quarter for a water! Anything to make another buck!

On my plane ride down to Texas I happened to notice that the woman sitting across from me on the isle seat was studying the same material I was for the franchise test. So I made conversation. It turned out she was staying in the same hotel as I was so we got to know one another. Let’s call her “Rachel.” It turned out she and her husband were buying one of “Kevin’s” other gyms in a different city. What were the odds? As we started talking, our notes were very similar. He used the same story about his son dying with them. He also told them he wanted to downsize. The only difference between us and them was they had business experience so her husband was one to play hard ball and not take “Kevin’s” shenanigans. If only we followed suit. On the last day of training we both couldn’t wait to go home. “Rachel” and I were meant to meet one another. God puts different people in your life for a reason whether that is a specific stranger, teacher, friend, or partner.  

The funniest thing was how every woman in the training room except “Rachel” and I approached the CEO of the Corporation. Women were lined up with the line wrapped around the room to shake hands with this guy like he was the second coming or something. They were getting autographs and taking pictures with this man. It must have been our New Jesrey attitudes because we wanted no part of that and found it very cult like. Kinda creepy how everyone was drinking the Koolaid. 

When we returned home our spouses happened to be waiting in the same area of the airport so they got to know one another some. We exchanged phone numbers and emails and said we were going to keep in touch. We were going to let each other know what was going on with our respected gyms.  

What happens next with our business and what happens with “Rachel” is unbelievable. Stay tuned!


Sorry for on and off posts but my hubby has been sick. He starting to feel better now :-). Depending on how the hubby feels today, we are supposed to go friends’ annual end of the summer party and then to the Giants preseason game against the Steelers. We are season ticket holders and spilt the season with my brothers. Looking forward to the new stadium. I am one of those crazy female football fanatics! Trust me. What you would see of me is nothing like what you would see when I am at or watching a football game. Just call me one of the guys without the beer!

Last I mentioned we borrowed $10,000 from my father to give to the landlord as a 6 month security deposit. There were so many things that happened that were definitely signs from God or a higher power whatever your preference, but we ignored every one of them.  Did you ever hear that story of the man standing on the roof with the floods coming? He was initailly warned beforehand and told to evacuate but he didn’t heed the warning and said no no God would save him. The waters rose to a point where a boat came and told him to get in. He said no no God was going to save him. The floods got worse. Next a helicopter came and he was on the last part of the roof that was above water. The man said no no God was going to save him. The helicopter flew away. Meanwhile the house went under water and the guy drowned. When he got to the pearly gates, he asked Jesus why he didn’t come and save him. Jesus explained how he sent people to warn him, a boat, and a helicopter. The moral of the story sometimes we are being saved from a horrible situation when we don’t even know we are being saved. We are always looking for a big miracle or the big sign when it’s the little miracles or little signs that save us.

As time went on, things got more and more hectic. I was going to work in the department I hated but I still kept in touch with my old boss. She and I would IM throughout the day. Right before the closing on the franchise, she offered me a part-time job doing what I did when I received my promotion but working from home for the associate company. It was very convenient. I would be able to work from home doing the job I loved and if there was an emergency at my business, I could drive 10 minutes and be there or work the late afternoon shift at the business. We thought it was a win win situation so I quit my full-time job to work at the associate company part-time from home. Our small business consultant didn’t approve. It was this decision and one other big one that pushed “Phil” over the edge. Remember in the last post I mentioned how “Kevin” did not want to give us the money from the prepay memberships? Well my husband and I set up a meeting with “Kevin” at the gym to discuss this. We figued without the prepay memberships we would not have enough money in our business account to cover the beginnings of expenses. While LEGALLY all prepays were ours, we didn’t know that and thought this would take a legal battle which we really couldn’t afford so we agreed to split the prepay memberships with him. That knocked about $6,000 off the purchase price. We negotiated this into our Intent Letter. No one thought this was a smart move. Again what did we know? We had zero contact with our attorney who, if we did contact her, billed us for every email, every phone call, and every question. She even had the audacity to bill us for my husband doing her a favor. My husband dropped off documents to her. She billed us for my husband walking into the lobby and her walking out to receive the documents. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Our small business consultant wouldn’t get back to us quickly when “Kevin” wanted immediate decisions so we felt forced to make decisions on our own. “Kevin” knew that and that is why he did it because he knew we were emotional and would make the wrong decisions. He just LOVED to tell my husband how I wore my emotions on my sleeve and didn’t know how to “keep my cards close to my chest.” Anyone that knows me knows that I am not a game player. I say what I feel. I act how I act. You like it great. You dont? That’s great too! I am not manipulating, a liar, a cheat, or a sneak. Neither is my husband. This in turn is why we would never make good business owners.

To be continued . . .


After calling and inquiring about “Cardinal Unsecured” we decided to definitely NOT go in that direction. Turns out they wanted to offer us 3 different loans at various variable interest rates and add the interests rates together. Sounds like someone was slumming in their basement with this one!

We called our accountant at the time (Another crook – we no longer use him – go figure) and made an appointment to meet with him to see if he can offer assistance with investors. During our meeting he suggested someone for us to call. We will call him “Phil.” Phil was a retired CEO who now worked as a small business consultant and business professor. Our accountant set up a meeting with Phil. Prior to our meeting, Phil called us and wanted us to bring our credit reports, bank statements, etc. In turn he was going to do due diligence on the franchise and bring us the information.

Fast forward to the day “Phil” agreed to be our small business consultant for a lovely fee of $2,500.00  because he thought the franchise was a good investment, the price we were offered was lower than most being sold, and because he knew for sure he could get us a no collateral loan because of his “connections” at a certain bank. The catch? My husband and I had to show we had at least $25,000 on hand which we didn’t. He said everything we bought for the franchise to keep the receipts and add that to the total. He also suggested if need be, we were to “withdraw money from our credit cards and put it in our savings account so the bank can see the money and then take it out of savings and send it back to the credit card company.” – Have you all seen how many red flags there have been? We were so trusting, so nieve, and such novices that we thought this was how things worked in the business world. Don’t they say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? That totally back fired.

As time went on, “Kevin” and his actions became more and more shady. He told us the gym had 275 memberships. Games started being played of him allegedly shopping the franchise behind our back for a higher price or to move the sale along with us. He tried to keep prepay membership monies. He wouldn’t let us in the facility to verify anything. Because we were novices, we thought we were going to lose our sale and kept making our own decisions based on emotion. Where was our attorney you ask? She was another shady character given to us by none other than our former accountant. She charged us an arm and a leg for doing practically NOTHING. We never even had a face to face meeting with her. This was another reason we started making our own decisions. If we did bring up a concern to our small business guy, he would say “Don’t worry about it.” So we didn’t. We thought he was on our side. He was just another one taking us for a ride and wanted his money.

Meanwhile, after all the paperwork was submitted to the franchise headquarters, we were initially declined. All it took was us begging and the seller calling them for them to change their minds! WHAT!?!?!?! Again I say, ANOTHER red flag. Then there was another red flag – Monies were needed for the landlord. We didn’t have it. How did we get it? I borrowed it from my father. Because we didn’t have any collateral, the landlord wanted a 6 month deposit that was in the realm of a little over $10,000.00 Without that money from my father, the deal would have probably fell through. There was one point in time when my father said, “If I hadn’t given you that money then maybe. . . “