The first Gold’s Gym was opened in 1965 in Southern California. It quickly become known as the “Mecca of bodybuilding” frequented by bodybuilders Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Draper. It was also featured in the 1977 movie, “Pumping Iron.” The movie gained nationwide attention for the sport of bodybuilding, and the gym itself. The culture of heavy lifting, and bodybuilders still exists today at Gold’s Gyms across the United States. Over time, Gold’s has incorporated other fitness avenues into its gyms, making them user-friendly for non-lifters as well. Today, Gold’s is one of the most popular gyms in the country, serving more than 3 million members in 38 states and 22 countries around the world.
Planet Fitness was founded in 1992 by Michael Grondahl, who purchased a financially struggling gym, and implemented a low-cost business model by dramatically reducing prices to compete against better-known brands. The goal was to meet the needs of occasional or first-time health club members, rather than more experienced members. The Planet Fitness brand has positioned itself as the leader for getting great value from a gym membership. Planet Fitness focuses on the average person who wants to get in shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Planet Fitness is unique in the fact that they discourage body-building and “gymtimidation.” Today, Planet Fitness has over 1000 locations with an estimated 6 million members across the United States. The company’s locations are either corporate- or individually owned and operated.
24 Hour Fitness has been in business for over 30 years, with 484 locations in 18 states throughout the U.S. As the name suggests, the gym is open 24 hours a day, and offers a wide range of amenities and options for varying levels of fitness expertise. The company was founded in 1983 as 24 Hour Nautilus by Mark Mastrov and Leonard Schlemm. 24 Hour Fitness is the third largest privately-owned and operated fitness center chain behind Gold's Gym and Fitness First. It currently employs over 18,000 people in the United States, and an undisclosed number of employees working in a customer services call-centers in the Philippines and Las Vegas, Nevada. The culture at 24 Hour Fitness is designed to appeal to a wide array of people. It is often referred to as the “melting pot” of gym chains, and fits the bill for many: from the individual with an erratic work schedule, the parent with young children, the person looking for a group fitness dynamic, to the heavy lifters. 24 Hour’s ability to meet the needs of these varying groups of people has earned it a reputation of having an inviting and dynamic culture.
Crunch health club was started in 1989 in a basement aerobics studio in the East Village of New York City. The company shares that this location in its inception had no locker rooms or air conditioning, in addition to being burglarized regularly. From the beginning Crunch’s mission was to make exercise and the total gym experience fun. To accomplish this, the founders eliminated traditional ideas of what were considered serious workouts at the time by collaborating with a highly creative group of fitness instructors with a wide range of expertise. The result was the development of challenging fitness classes and programs with a completely fresh slant. More than two decades later, Crunch still believes in making serious exercise fun by fusing fitness and entertainment and holding true to its “No Judgements” philosophy. Crunch is headquartered in New York City, co-owned by New Evolution Ventures (NeV) and private-equity firm Angelo Gordon. It currently serves over 400,000 members with both corporate-owned and franchised locations (Crunch Essential) in cities throughout the U.S. and in Australia. Crunch continues to expand across the U.S. and around the globe. It also has a franchise program for those wanting to own and operate a local Crunch location of their own.
Chuck Runyon, Dave Mortensen, and Jeff Klinger founded Anytime Fitness in 2002 in St. Paul, Minnesota. All three men were previous business partners who successfully owned, operated, and sold a local St. Paul fitness center several years ago. The idea for Anytime Fitness came after the founders worked as consultants for a firm that helped underperforming fitness clients’ increase their bottom line. As of 2015, Anytime Fitness has over 3,000 gym locations and 2 million clients. The fitness club opened their first international location in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and has since then expanded to locations in Australia, Canada, Grand Cayman, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, New Zealand, Qatar, and the United Kingdom. Anytime’s nationwide manifesto is to “Improve the self-esteem of the world.” The company is less concerned with how many pounds and inches its clients use but more focused on their improved quality of living and outlook on life. In 2011, Anytime Fitness developed a health and fitness app for their website that is available to members and serves as a platform to download workouts, track food, and interact with other users to meet fitness goals.
Lifetime Fitness is a privately held chain of fitness centers headquartered in Chanhassen, Minnesota (right outside of Minneapolis). The company was founded by Bahram Akradi in 1992. Lifetime brands itself as a comprehensive health and lifestyle company, offering a personalized and scientific approach to long-term health and wellness. Members can gain access to personal training programs with a personal trainer, health club benefits, and various other workout programs. The first club opened in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and expanded throughout the region and later throughout the United States and Canada. Most LifeTime Fitness centers are located in fringe suburban areas in medium to large-sized metropolitan areas, with a handful of locations in central city or inner suburban locations. Today, Lifetime Fitness currently has a combined total of 121 centers in 27 states across the United States and Canada.
Snap Fitness was founded in Chanhassen, Minnesota by Peter Taunton, who was dedicated to providing members with “more value than any other health club.” Snap Fitness has received many industry awards, ranking #35 for the Franchise 500 award as well as an Entrepreneur of the Year award given to the founder. This company is a fitness industry leader with over 1,050 facilities located across the United States and several others worldwide. Each Snap Fitness location is open 24 hours a day, allowing all members access when they need it.
Founded in 1844 in London, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is the oldest operating wellness facility of its kind in existence. The original purpose of the organization (and its female counterpart, YWCA) was to provide low-cost housing in a safe Christian environment for rural young men and women journeying to the cities for work during the industrialization era. The YMCA combined preaching in the streets and the distribution of religious tracts with a social ministry. Philanthropists saw YMCA as a place for wholesome recreation that would help to deter youth groups from the temptations of alcohol, gambling, and prostitution. Today, YMCA programs throughout the world still hold strong to the values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. These values continue to be taught in its facilities today to help teach children right from wrong. YMCA has since developed a culture of fitness and wellness at its locations communities with paid gym membership programs and fitness classes that promote healthy living. The association conducts many different types of outreach and social programs to raise awareness of its services, and currently serves over 10,000 neighborhoods across the United States.
LA Fitness was started in 1984 in Clovina, California. The fitness center claims to provide fun and effective workout options to family members of all ages and interests. Today, there are 24 LA Fitness centers and growing, with two additional locations in Canada.
Powerhouse Gyms International was founded by two brothers in Highland Park, MI, growing into a well- known fitness organization and a leader in the industry. Each facility is privately owned and operated and it is not uncommon to find A-list celebrities training in these clubs. Powerhouse Gyms have been around since the 1970s, which offers a sense of credibility to the company. Because each facility is independently owned and operated, it is not uncommon to find mixed reviews around the web.