A bankrupt Sydney gym and construction entrepreneur previously involved in several collapsed companies is being chased by Brisbane tradespeople who claim they are owed thousands of dollars for work on an inner-city 'fitness village'.

Texture Creative and Wilson Emergency Lighting were this week owed a combined $31,000 for work completed for Fit Village at Paddington, founded by businessman Jake Henley.

Fit Village is owned by RJC1 Pty Ltd, of which Mr Henley's partner Melissa Stoodley is the sole director - however Mr Henley promotes himself as the founder.

Ms Stoodley did not respond to a request for comment and Mr Henley denies wrongdoing.

According to its website Fit Village - which now features an operational gym - will become "an entire health community", offering yoga, pilates, a health food store, childcare, barber and cafe when completed.

Texture Creative owners Mark and Nat Studdert claimed they were owed $10,000 after painting a mural at the gym.

Ms Studdert said her company was paid for half of the work up front.

It is understood Mr Henley paid half of the amount owed on Wednesday.

Electrician Brad Wilson claimed he was owed $21,000 for electrical work at the Paddington Fit Village.

It is understood Mr Henley paid Mr Wilson today.

Mr Wilson said Mr Henley paid the first $6000 bill on time, however he claimed the subsequent $16,000 and $5000 had been unpaid.

Mr Wilson decided against legal action, believing the cost of pursuing the debt would leave him in the red.

Paddington Fit Village founder Jake Henley and partner Melissa Stoodley.
Paddington Fit Village founder Jake Henley and partner Melissa Stoodley.

Mr Henley denies wrongdoing and said the trades "have been paid".

However, he later said $10,000 was still owed to Texture Creative, which he plans to pay within 14 days.

Mr Henley previously listed himself as the "founder" of FitVillage, but he has now insisted he is not.

"I've only been made aware I'm not allowed to do that," he said.

"I work as a manager of the business, I'm not a director."

When questioned about his track record, Mr Henley said "disputes happen in business".

"We also have gone through a really tough time over the past 12 months," he said.

"Our business (FitVillage) was shut down for 12 weeks.

"It's been quite difficult making ends meet and we've fallen on tough times."

Mr Henley said he lent friends and family between $70,000 and $80,000 during COVID-19 after they fell on tough times.

"We want them to be able to eat and survive, not have their cars repossessed," he said.

In October 2019 Mr Henley was ordered by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission to pay $1.38m to builder Rohrig Pty Ltd for work it did at Paddington Fit Village.

An investigation by The Courier Mail into Mr Henley's business history reveals he was a director of at least 40 companies - of which the majority have been deregistered - before being declared bankrupt in May 2017.

At least three of the companies he was involved in collapsed owing creditors millions of dollars.

Mr Henley said he was not a company director when the businesses went into liquidation and declared he was not in control of finances.


Jake Henley has been accused of not paying trades.
Jake Henley has been accused of not paying trades.


Another of Mr Henley's companies, Gym and Tonic Healthclubs Pty Ltd, collapsed into liquidation in February 2017 following a New South Wales Supreme Court order brought on by GoGetta Pty Ltd.

The court heard Gym and Tonic rented gym equipment from GoGetta but fell behind in repayments, owing more than $469,000 in July 2016.

Further investigations by liquidator Shumit Banerjee of SV Partners Insolvency revealed Gym and Tonic owed 16 creditors $2.13m.

In 2011, at 26 years old, Mr Henley owned seven Snap Fitness franchisees across Brisbane and was named its international franchisee of the year in 2010.

He sold the gyms in November 2013 to fund his expansion into the Sydney market.

By early 2014 the then 28-year old had expanded his business empire to include six city gyms, three nutrition stores, and a cafe.

In 2014 Mr Henley's Snap Fitness gyms joined Henley's Wholefoods store, Performa Nutrition and Henley Property and Construction Group brands under the Henley Group umbrella.

According to The Henley Group records, Performa Nutrition was a "passion project" for Mr Henley and his business partners.

In early 2014 a Performa supplements cafe opened in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Waterloo followed by two more across the city.

However, the stores were closed and the company put into liquidation in late 2017.

MrHenley's was the director of Henley Property and Construction Group until he was declared bankrupt on May 15, 2017.




Originally published as Tradies unpaid as bankrupt gym boss strikes again

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