Madonna is no stranger when it comes to bizarre business ventures. Whether she’s promoting Kabbalah propaganda disguised as children’s books, hawking a line of bargain bin perfume named after her 1991 documentary Truth or Dare, or releasing a Japanese skincare line inspired by her 2012 album MDNA, she’ll try anything if she thinks it’ll make her a buck.
In 2010, the Queen of Pop launched a fitness franchise called Hard Candy Fitness, named after her 2008 album Hard Candy. Gyms were opened in cities around the world, including Berlin, Mexico City, Sydney and Toronto, among others. Each one features colorful disco balls, non-stop EDM music videos, and oversized pictures of Madonna everywhere. In the lobby. In the hall. In the locker room. In the weight room. In the cardio room. In the yoga studio. In the bathroom. Everywhere you turn, there’s Madonna, watching you, judging you.
But it looks like the party is ending at one of the locations. Fitness fanatics in Canada, it seems, have had enough of the 57-year-old chanteuse staring down at them while they’re doing squats and bicep curls. Because Leonard Schlemm, the owner of the 42,000-sq-ft gym in downtown Toronto, says he’s rebranding. Immediately.
“Madonna was fabulous,” he tells Torontoist.
Not fabulous enough, however, to make people pay $100 a month plus a $69 “administrative fee,” or $28 for a day pass, to hang out at her gym. Schlemm says dwindling memberships, a lack of support from the franchise and the fact that people couldn’t seem to wrap their heads around the concept of a Madonna-themed fitness center have all played into his decision to rebrand.
“People couldn’t figure out where Hard Candy was and then they were turned off by the brand because they thought it was a dance studio,” he says.
We’re sure negative Yelp reviews accusing the club of being too loud, having crappy customer service, charging stiff cancellation fees and being “much like its founder, Madonna … highly over-rated, pretty on the outside, but low on substance” also didn’t help.
Oh, and then there was the issue of people, often tourists, constantly coming in and taking selfies next to the giant pictures of Madonna and then leaving.
“We are in the business of providing fitness to people who want to be in shape,” Schlemm adds. “We aren’t a destination for you to come and take a selfie.”
So, he says, he’s closing Hard Candy this weekend and reopening on Monday as Aura Fitness. He says it will be “one of the nicest [clubs] in the world.”
“If I had to pick a place to workout in for myself,” he says, “I’d choose this one.”
While the overall look of the gym won’t change too drastically, the makeover does mean the giant pictures of Madonna, every single one of them, will be ripped down.
We sure she’s going to be just devastated.