24 Hour Fitness
(Health club chain with weight loss
After you read our review below - Try our
Diet Wizard to find out which diet programs are
best suited to your specific needs, and which ones will help you keep the weight
Type of Counseling:
personal trainer provides exercise advice and nutritional counseling
health club based
Type of Foods Used:
regular grocery store food
At-Home or Direct Mail Plan Available?
24 Hour Fitness
12647 El Costa Blvd.
San Ramon, CA 94583
This is one of the largest fitness club chains in the United
States, with more than 2.7 million members and 300 clubs now operating in 16
states. It is the world’s largest privately owned and operated fitness
center chain, begun in 1983. By 1994, one club had grown to more than 32
centers in Northern California, which then begat the 34 Hour Nautilus chain.
In 1994, it partnered with an investment banking firm and was acquired. At
that time, the 24 Hour Fitness name was born.
The company expanded into Europe and began acquiring and building new
fitness center chains in Sweden, Norway and Denmark in 1998-1999. Clubs in
Spain and Germany were added in the year 2000. 24 Hour Fitness also has
clubs in five Asian countries.
How The Health Club Program Works
Management reports that this is a pay-as-you-go health club
membership plan—no long-term contracts. The monthly fee ranges from $28-34
per month, and there may be a registration fee. The website currently
advertises a 10-day free downloadable trial pass, and a special 90-day $149
fee. Fees are automatically deducted via electronic transfer from your
checking account or credit card.
Group exercise classes
Known as "Group X" at 24 Hour Fitness, these are groups of people
working out, enjoying physical fitness and having a lot of fun. 24 Hour
Fitness offers all the old-time aerobics favorites along with the latest
trends and cutting edge options. The company provides over 13,000 classes
offering exercise programs and fitness workouts to suit everyone.
There are four types of clubs:
Active… These clubs are usually up to 25,000 sq. ft. and may include:
free weights, cardio, group exercise, personal training, locker rooms, a
sauna, steam room, and a kid’s club.
Sport… A little larger club, usually 35-50,000 sq. ft. These
facilities may include all of the above, plus basketball and a pool.
Super-sport… These include all of the service for the two types of
clubs above, plus: tanning.
Ultra-sport… These are the largest of the chain’s clubs, generally
over 100,000 sq. ft. They include all of the service above, plus:
volleyball, racquetball, rock climbing, indoor running track, massage,
squash, and executive locker rooms.
The chain has a Complete Personal Training program which uses an exclusive
line of dietary supplements developed for the APEX Fitness Group. The 24/5
Complete Personal Training program uses the club’s personal trainers to
adjust the 5 components to create a customized program. Your food intake,
cardio exercise, resistance exercise and supplement recommendations are
monitored and modified to reach your individual goals. You'll also learn
what you need to maintain your goals and long-term.
The cost for personal training services is about $49 per session.
“Solutions” Weight Loss Program
The company in 2004 launched a new personal training/weight loss program, available in 24 Hour Fitness clubs nationwide. It is
NOT part of the regular health club membership. It is a customized personal
training program where participants choose their desired fitness goal.
The Solutions program is based on five components of fitness –
cardiovascular, food intake, personal assistance, resistance training, and
supplementation. It also includes nutrition education counseling and meal
planning. The company does sell meal replacements.
The Solutions weight loss program has four distinct paths:
• Lean path… lose weight and keep it off
• Fitness path… get fit and stay fit
• Muscle path… build lean muscle mass
• Performance path… gain the competitive edge.
This program also includes new technology for testing metabolic rates and
caloric expenditures. The BodyGem ®, a metabolism measurement device, is
used to customize Solutions participants’ programs for better results. And
the NodyMedia armband accurately measures the wearer’s total calories burned
in any timeframe, which allows their food intake to be adjusted accordingly.
Solutions is not part of the regular health club membership and therefore
costs extra, priced as follows:
- Intro (5 session for $299)
- Active (10 sessions for $569)
- Value (20 sessions for $999).
The company’s website includes a club locator, free online membership,
nutrition information, personal training, youth sports, corporate wellness,
daily recipes, and group exercise information. There is a free eClub weekly
newsletter that contains fitness tips, tips for eating right, and news about
special discounts. There is also a weight management newsletter.
The website also has a store, where one can buy accessories (gym bags,
exercise balls, mats), nutritional products such as nutrition bars (Myoplex,
Promax, Advant Edge brands), and dietary supplements/diet aids (Apex,
Hyroxycut, Xenadrine barnds), and meal replacement powders (Apex brand).
This is one of the largest fitness club chains in the United States. There
is a great deal of variety among its clubs, in the facilities and activities
offered, and personal training services are offered for those seeking more
customized attention. We also like that you can pay month-to-month without
any long-term contracts. 24 Hour Fitness just recently entered the true
weight loss field via its new Solutions plan, although it has maintained a
website that provides nutrition articles and healthy eating tips and advice.
However, in BestDietForMe.com’s opinion, the weight loss counseling
capability is limited to personal trainers’ knowledge (mainly exercise
related), which may not be as comprehensive as you’d get from a weight loss
clinic, dietitian, or other weight loss professional that has been in the
field longer. This plan’s main weakness lies in its lack of psychological
support—tacking issues of emotional eating, stimulus control, and social
eating skills. And, if you do use the optional Solutions program, it can get
costly. If one chose the 20-session plan (say you visit the club and
personal trainer twice a week for 10 weeks), you’d spend $999, plus the
$31/week cost of membership, another $310—for a total of $1,310.
Summary of Health Club-Based Weight Loss
Programs in General
In the United States there are about 26,000 health clubs operating today. A
substantial share of them offer some kind of weight loss plan, in addition
to just exercise. The reality is that most people that join health clubs are
there to lose or maintain weight. The industry’s trade group “IHRSA” further
reports that 39 million Americans are paying dues to be members of health
clubs. Of these members, 51.6% are women. IHRSA reports that the big growth
segment today is people over age 55, more of whom are exercising for quality
of life concerns, not to lose weight.
Approximately 13,500 health clubs in the U.S. today are estimated by Bestdietforme.com to offer some form of weight loss or nutritional
counseling program (about 52% of all clubs).
Health clubs find adding weight loss to be a “natural” for members, since
the dieter has access to exercise facilities and expertise, as well as
nutrition information -- a combination that’s rarely available at the
typical commercial weight loss center.
According to Club Industry magazine... “Many club owners spend almost
no money on paid advertising. One owner says that 90% of his new customers
are referred by current or former clients.
Health clubs also recognize that they need to offer programs for pregnant
women, the excessively overweight and older people. Nutrition service
vendors say baby boomers will demand a greater variety of weight-management
products as they grow older and heavier.
Another telling quote: “We have all of them here in the area: Jenny Craig,
Diet Center, Weight Watchers,” ...But we don’t see them as competition. We
get a lot of referrals from them because they see us as offering the
exercise component they don’t. When we opened seven years ago our marketing
strategy was to go to each of the commercial weight-loss centers and offer
to give talks on exercise and weight loss.”
Exercise is NOT a primary component of most weight-loss programs. There’s a
big void between Jenny Craig, for example, and health clubs, say club
owners. The health club is in a unique position to work with one of the
weight-loss clinics. For example, when one purchases a Jenny Craig diet
program they could get a membership in a health club.
Some clubs hire a professional counselor or train an existing staff member
to provide nutrition information. At other locations, a registered dietitian
(RD) or nutritionist offers counseling, then gives the club a percentage of
fees in exchange for free office space. Other strategies include homemade or
turnkey programs, or simply selling non-prescription nutritional supplements
and weight loss aids. Yet another alternative is to join forces with a
commercial weight-loss center.
According to consultants and industry insiders, fitness clubs are only
beginning to aggressively market themselves as weight management and
nutrition centers. Club Industry reported that many club owners are
focusing on current members to launch new weight management programs. While
media attention builds interest in the program, the “facilitator” (group
leader) is the main reason why people stay with or leave the program (The
same is true for popular group leaders in commercial diet programs).
Health club industry consultants also estimates that 50% of health cubs
today offer some type of weight loss program, and they point out that they
run the gamut in style, content and price. Frequently, they’re not called
“diet” programs, but “nutrition” programs. All such programs are based on
proper nutrition coupled with exercise. Personal trainers are getting
involved as well, being bundled with a club’s nutrition program.
According to consultants, the most successful programs are found in
health clubs where nutrition, fitness and weight management programming are
the central themes to all other member activities. The typical price for a
12 week program with one-on-one counseling usually ranges from $129-299.
Most health club owners undervalue their weight management programs.
However, most clubs discover that the price of their weight management plan,
in addition to the cost of a membership, still comes out less that fees
charged by the large commercial diet companies.
A Sample Health Club Weight Loss Program
This is a program licensed by SOF, Inc. (Durango, CO). This
program continues to grow, now offered in 4,500 health clubs, corporations,
hospitals and managed care organizations combined (vs. 3,000 in early 1997).
It’s estimated that perhaps 300 U.S. health clubs now use the program, of
THINK LIGHT!® promotes a realistic, lifestyle
approach to eating, exercise and behavior change. It's is a healthy eating
program that takes the hassle out of planning and preparing low fat meals
and snacks. Packaged in a file card system, the plan includes menus, quick,
light recipes and weekly grocery lists. THINK LIGHT!® is a
complete, "turn-key" weight management program. The program is usually
combined with a health club’s counseling and personal training services and
workshops. As such, there is no "typical" price. It can range from $45 to
$495, depending on the other health club services it is bundled with.
It was developed by a team of health professionals - registered
dietitians, exercise physiologists and behavioral psychology experts. The firm
has added phone and email-based support services.
Typically a 6-week THINK LIGHT!® class series
including the THINK LIGHT!® - Lowfat Living Plan and Companion Guide
might be priced at $99-$179, depending on the market.
Here’s one example of a small chain of health clubs using THINK
LIGHT! The 3-month club membership included the following: (cost: $199 single,
$299 couple, $399 family)
The THINK LIGHT! Lowfat
Group exercise session
3 personal training
Pre/post body fat
composition and weight record
Unlimited use of
The Top 10 Health Club Chains in the United States
- (check your area for location of centers, or call the headquarters phone numbers below)
Bally Total Fitness
# of Sites: 419
24 Hour Fitness
San Francisco, CA
# of Sites: 305
Town Sports International
New York, NY
# of Sites: 129
Eden Prairie, MN
# of Sites: 30
The Wellbridge Co.
# of Sites: 44
The Sports Club Co.
Los Angeles, CA
# of Sites: 10
# of Sites: 45
Western Athletic Club
San Francisco, CA
# of Sites: 11
The Sport & Health Co.
# of Sites: 28
Spectrum Clubs Inc.
El Segundo, CA
# of Sites: 19
San Francisco, CA
# of Sites: 130