Do you want to compare Bally Total Fitness with Curves for Women, the YMCA and other health club chains and diet clinics as the diet method to help you lose weight? Will a personal trainer work for you? Take our Diet Wizard to find out whether Bally Total Fitness is the best choice for you. Our comprehensive diet analysis examines your lifestyle and dieting preferences, and reviews your needs versus exercising at Bally's, as well as other popular diet programs and health clubs. Then BestDietForMe.com gives you a list of your best diet program “matches" and unbiased reports describing each company’s diet program matched to you, complete with details and reviews of programs like Bally Total Fitness, so you can choose the right one…
Type of Counseling: personal trainer provides exercise advice and nutritional counseling, optional phone counseling by registered dietitian.
Typical Cost: $250-500
Type Program: health club based
Type of Foods Used: regular grocery store food, supplements, meal replacements.
At-Home or Direct Mail Plan Available? Yes
Bally Total Fitness
8700 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60631
Bally’s Weight Management Program
Bally’s has more than 400 clubs in the United States, making them the largest health club chain in the U.S., other than Curves for Women. Of course, their main focus is exercise programs, but they also offer a variety of programs or services specifically geared to weight loss. These vary in price and content from club to club. Consumers can find the nearest Bally’s by checking the phone book or the main Bally’s website above.
A consumer almost always has to join the club in order to gain access to its weight loss programs. Sometimes these programs come free of charge, while in other cases they may cost extra. For example, at Bally’s there is usually a $100 registration fee and you pay $31 per month (pay as you go, month by month). Therefore, using a Bally’s club for 3 months would cost you $193. If you signed up for the 30-day weight loss makeover for $65, then your cost would be about $258. If you attended for 4 months, figure $289—not a bad deal in comparison to other commercial weight loss programs.
If you want a heavy emphasis on the exercise and personal training, this may be a good option. However, if you’re looking for a higher level weight loss counselor and a professionally degreed or more intensively trained motivator, you might find health club weight loss programs to be weak in this area.
At Bally Total Fitness Clubs, you can get articles on topics such as Diet and Weight Loss, Strength Training, Yoga and more. They also offer a Fitness Tip of the Day. Bally’s offers a 3 day/week Weight Management program and a 5 day/week Muscle Development exercise program. The chain has four free diet programs to choose from: a 1200 calorie/day and 1500 calorie/day weight management program and two muscle development programs. All include Bally’s meal replacement drinks and snack bars. The "Rapid Results Diet System" provides you with a complete and easy-to-follow diet and exercise program. This plan combines meal replacement products with a healthy diet plan.
New: Bally Phone Counseling Program
This plan was added the first week of May 2005 and marks a significant and serious entry into the weight loss field for the company. It is available only to Bally members--not the general public. Too bad, it looks very good and represents a step up in terms of truly professional weight loss counseling not usually associated with a health club chain. This is a combination of Web-based tools offered via the members-only website and one-to-one phone counseling with your personal registered dietitian, who helps motivate you and design a customized meal plan. So now, you can lose weight and receive counseling from a degreed professional with in-depth nutrition knowledge (not just a personal trainer with limited nutrition knowledge), and do it from home or your office, as well as at the health club.
Phone counseling is handled via weekly 15-minute sessions, structured when YOU want them. There are a variety of packages offered, depending on how many sessions you think you'll need, starting at a cost of $1 per minute. Phone counseling is available Monday-Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm Pacific time.
Services you get:
This is a 3-phase program personalized to your needs.
- weight loss
- one to one phone counseling with an RD
- weekly weight loss topics
- online access to www.ballynutrition.com (members only)
- unlimited food choices at the calorie level right for you
- weekly emails from your personal RD, recap of last session, preview of next one, strategies for the week
- special offers and discounts on Bally products/services available only to phone counseling members.
Packages & Costs:
1 session, trial package: $20, 4 sessions: $72, 8 sessions (if you have a small amount of weight to lose, for a special event like a wedding): $132, 12 sessions: $180, and 1-year all-inclusive package: $364 ($7 per session).
Call 1-800-774-MY-RD for details from a program director.
The Bally 30-Day Makeover Plan
This usually costs $65 and includes the following:
Dynamic Personal Training
Rapid ResultsÒ Nutritional Supplement Pack
Rapid ResultsÒ Workouts and Diet Plans
Weight Management Program
All new members can get the Bally 30-Day Makeover with the purchase of any Personal Training Membership.
Summary of Health Club-Based Weight Loss Programs in General
In the United States there are about 29,500 health clubs operating today. A substantial share offer some kind of weight loss plan, in addition to just exercise. The reality is that most people join health clubs to lose or maintain weight. The industry’s trade group "IHRSA" further reports that 41 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 16,700 health clubs in the U.S. today are estimated by BestDietForMe.com to offer some form of weight loss or nutritional counseling program (about 57% 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 this tally.
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.
A team of health professionals - registered dietitians, exercise physiologists and behavioral psychology experts, developed the program. 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 Living Plan
Group exercise session once/week
3 personal training appointments
Pre/post body fat composition and weight record
Unlimited use of facility.
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
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