HOUSTON -

How long is a lifetime? That's the question at the center of a gym contract controversy.

One man called Local 2 Consumer Expert Amy Davis when he said his fitness gym did not want to honor his lifetime membership rate.

The year was 1978 when "Grease" was the word, a gallon of gas was just 63 cents and Mark Corder, of Pasadena, signed a lifetime membership agreement with President & First Lady gym for $55 a year.

"When I first joined it was President & First Lady," said Corder. "And men went one day and women went the next day."

A lot has changed in the last 36 years.

His gym became Bally Total Fitness. Then in 2012, Blast Fitness took over. Through it allm Corder continued paying his $55 annual membership. But recently, he said a Blast manager told him they were raising his rate to $199 unless he could find that 36-year-old contract.

"To take a lifetime contract and say I'm gonna quadruple your dues, cause basically that's what they're doing," Corder told Davis.

Corder did not have that old contract.

He had relied on the word of Ballys and Blast that the new company would honor all existing agreements.

Legally, Corder has a right to the Ballys contract with his signature on it; but, Ballys told Corder it didn't have it anymore either.

"You've got a right to it, but if they do not turn it over to you, you've got to get a judge to tell them that they have to," explained David Tiede with the Texas Consumer Complaint Center.

Tiede says without that original contract, Corder's recourse narrows.

"I called you to see if there's any way that you can get Blast to honor the payment history," Corder told Davis.

Locally, Blast Fitness managers balked at our request to honor the original agreement for life; butm a Blast corporate spokesperson followed up to say Corder's fixed rate would be honored. 

In an email, Priscilla Giroux wrote:

"We will honor all contracts, and over the past 20 months have successfully worked through thousands of similar situations."

Another good source for help with gyms that close or refuse to honor contracts is the Texas Secretary of State's office. All fitness centers are required to register with that agency and carry insurance, so that if a gym closes after you've paid your dues you can get your money back.