Editor's Note: The companies on the Top 100 Clubs list are ranked by 2017 gross revenue, not by any other standard. Club Industry allows franchisors to report revenue from corporate-owned facilities and franchisee fees but not revenue from individual franchisees, as each franchisee can report its revenue separately to be considered for the list.
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As the U.S. economy continues to improve, the U.S. health club market also continues to experience growth for most of the largest health club companies despite increased competition and bifurcation within the industry, the 2018 Club Industry Top 100 Clubs list shows.
On this year’s list, leaders in the health club industry reported steady growth and often significant additions with new builds or acquisitions in 2017. LA Fitness, Life Time, 24 Hour Fitness, Equinox Holdings (with its brands Equinox, SoulCycle, Blink Fitness and Pure Yoga) and Planet Fitness all had growth years. Town Sports International reported its first annual revenue growth in six years, mainly through cost-cutting and club acquisition.
The franchisors on the list continued to demonstrate the strength of this model for growth. Franchising success was led by Planet Fitness (14 percent increase), Crunch Fitness (8 percent increase), UFC Gyms (17.46 percent increase), Orangetheory Fitness (46 percent increase), Anytime Fitness (14.2 percent increase), Club Pilates (77.6 percent increase) and 9Round (46.4 percent increase).
In addition, several company-owned regional companies fared well in the high-volume, low-priced (HVLP) segment, including Vasa Fitness (30 percent increase) and Chuze Fitness (37 percent increase).
Only six of the 100 companies on the list reported a decrease in 2017 revenue, one of which was five percent while the others were three percent or less. Two of those six companies with lower revenue were hospital-affiliated (Ochsner Fitness Center at a decrease of 5 percent and TriHealth Fitness and Health Pavilion at a 1 percent decrease). YogaWorks, the boutique yoga brand that went public in August 2017, also reported a decrease of 1 percent.
Following are some of the highlights from the results of this year’s list.
No. 1: LA Fitness
LA Fitness, Irvine, California, has claimed the top spot on the Top 100 Clubs list since 2013. This year is no exception. Although the notoriously press-shy company did not self-report its revenue, reliable industry sources shared that the company's revenue was $2.1 billion, a 5.7 percent increase from 2016. The caveat is that the number is for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2017. The company ended 2017 with 705 locations, an increase from 689 in 2016.
No. 2: Life Time
Life Time, Chanhassen, Minnesota, remains at No. 2 for the second year with 2017 revenue of $1.55 billion, a five percent increase from 2016.
In fall 2017, Life Time and two classes of its trainers reached a settlement for $940,000 related to the trainers' allegations that they were exclusively paid on commission as exempt Life Time employees and were not paid for performing work such as cleaning, completing classes and conducting client assessments. The company told Law360 at the time that it denied any wrongdoing and settled only to avoid further litigation.
On a more positive note in 2017, Life Time opened its largest club in the country, a $50 million, 320,000-square-foot club (including the outdoor square footage) in Charlotte, North Carolina. In June 2017, the company also shared that it will open in 2019 a “healthy lifestyle village” in a former shopping mall in Edina, Minnesota, in a partnership with Simon Property Group. The project is part of a larger collaboration between Life Time and Simon to re-imagine mall spaces as "healthy lifestyle villages," according to a media release about the collaboration.
The company has already made moves in 2018 that should increase its revenue for this year, including opening its first club in the Pacific Northwest, acquiring six massage retreat and spa locations, opening an athletic resort-style club in Princeton, New Jersey and one in a suburb of Boston, as well opening its first shared workspace concept.
No. 3: 24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, California, remains at No. 3 with 2017 revenue of $1.44 billion, an increase of 1.48 percent from 2016. 24 Hour Fitness has submitted a Top 100 Clubs form for several years without submitting the revenue portion of the form. However, this year it self-reported its revenue. (In prior years, the revenue for 24 Hour was obtained using industry sources.)
The change in attitude about reporting its financials may stem from its new CEO. Chris Roussos was hired as CEO in May of last year after the departure of Mark Smith in March 2017.
The company ended 2017 with 433 clubs, an increase from 425 clubs in 2016.
“We’ve got a pretty serious and direct focus of growing the footprint of 24 Hour,” Frank Napolitano, president of 24 Hour Fitness, told Club Industry in early July. He noted that part of the focus would be to engage members more both inside and outside the club.
Earlier this year, 24 Hour launched a behavior change program and research study with the goal of understanding the incentives and motivation that people need to help them be more successful in reaching their fitness goals. The program, the 28-day StepUp Program, was developed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative. Findings from the study will benefit the entire fitness industry, the company said.
No. 4: Equinox Holdings
Equinox Holdings, New York, again lands at No. 4 with estimated 2017 revenue of $1.3 billion, a 19 percent increase from 2016 revenue. Keep in mind that this revenue includes revenue from Equinox, Blink Fitness, SoulCycle and Pure Yoga. Also keep in mind that like LA Fitness, Equinox Holdings did not self-report this revenue; instead, it was gained from other sources. And like LA Fitness, the sources were only able to report revenue for the last 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2017.
In April 2017, Equinox, which plans to open its first hotel in 2019, added Niki Leondakis as CEO. Leonadakis has 30 years of hospitality experience, including time as Kimpton Hotel president and COO. Former CEO Harvey Spevak moved into the role of executive chairman and managing partner of Equinox Holdings.
In July 2017, Equinox received a "significant minority investment" from private equity firm L Catterton. The amount of the investment was undisclosed. That private equity firm also has investments in Peloton, Pure Barre and CorePower Yoga.
Blink Fitness submitted its own form, but because Club Industry has always reported Equinox Holdings as a whole, Blink Fitness remains included in the Equinox Holdings listing. However, Blink’s form noted that it had 63 clubs in four states (California, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) at the end of 2017, accounting for $99.25 million in 2017 revenue, a 33 percent increase from 2016.
Blink Fitness projects that its revenue will increase by 35 percent in 2018 with the addition of 25 planned clubs this year. Blink plans to enter six new U.S. markets this year with a goal of reaching 300 clubs by 2021, it has stated. Part of that growth started in 2018 with a franchise development deal with Golden State Warrior forward Draymond Green to open 20 Blink locations in Michigan and Illinois.
No. 5: ClubCorp
ClubCorp, Dallas, has been quiet since it reverted to a private company in 2017 after its purchase by Apollo Global Management. However, it held onto its No. 5 spot this year by reporting $1.19 billion in 2017 revenue, a 1.9 percent increase from 2016.
The sale came after representatives from ClubCorp shareholders FrontFour Capital Group issued a letter in 2016 to ClubCorp that criticized the company's acquisition strategy and then-depreciating shareholder value. The company had been growing through a series of acquisitions in 2016 and 2017.
Two new independent directors then joined the board in May 2017: Simon M. Turner, former president of global development at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and Emanuel Pearlman, executive chairman of the board of directors at Empire Resorts.
Around that same time, Eric Affeldt, who had been ClubCorp CEO, announced his retirement.
In April of this year, the company’s board announced it had hired David Pillsbury as its new CEO. Pillsbury had held several C-level roles in the golf industry, including co-CEO at American Golf, general manager at Nike Golf, COO and then president at the PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties, and most recently as president and then CEO of Laser Spine Institute. Upon Pillsbury’s hiring, Mark Burnett, who had been ClubCorp’s president and COO, announced he was leaving the company.
No. 6: Planet Fitness
Planet Fitness, Hampton, New Hampshire, climbed one spot on the list to No. 6 this year, reporting $429.9 million in 2017 revenue, a 14 percent increase from 2016. The revenue reported by Planet Fitness, as with all franchisors on the list, is for its corporate-owned locations and franchisee fees but not the revenue earned by each of its individual franchisees.
At the end of 2017, the public company had 1,518 clubs in 48 states and several countries, compared to 1,313 clubs at the end of 2016. The company reported an all-time annual record of 210 club openings in 2017. (The difference in its 210 club openings and the 205 increase in the number of clubs from 2016 could be attributed to a few club closings.) These numbers mean the company opened an average of about four clubs per week in 2017.
Planet Fitness also moved into its new headquarters in Hampton, New Hampshire, in 2017.
No. 7: Town Sports International
Despite showing an increase in annual revenue in 2017 for the first time in six years, Town Sports International, Jupiter, Florida, fell from No. 6 on last year’s list to No. 7 with 2017 revenue of $403 million, a 1.5 percent increase from 2016. Town Sports, which has been around since 1973, is a publicly traded company that operates clubs under the brands New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs, Philadelphia Sports Clubs and Washington Sports Clubs, plus the Lucille Roberts Health Clubs, which it purchased in July 2017 for an undisclosed amount. The 16 Lucille Roberts clubs will retain their brand and remain as women-only clubs, according to the company.
The 2017 purchase was the first move by CEO Patrick Walsh and his team to grow Town Sports through acquisitions. That strategy continued in 2018 with the purchase in March of TMPL, the David Barton New York-based brand, and the February purchase of 12 small clubs that make up California-based Total Woman Gym + Spa, an acquisition that moved the company for the first time into the West Coast.
With these purchases, the company’s revenue for 2018 will likely increase again.
Walsh, who received the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 Award in the Transformational category in New York earlier this year, told Club Industry that the company is in the midst of a “historic” turnaround.
Town Sports’ last few years have been perhaps its most turbulent with much of the leadership departing the company after Walsh, who had been an active investor in the company, joined the board in March 2015 and eventually moved into the executive chairman role and later the CEO role in 2016.
In 2017, Walsh moved the company's headquarters to Jupiter, Florida.
No. 8: The Bay Club Co.
The Bay Club Co., San Francisco, remains at No. 8 this year on heels of news in late July 2018 that its owners are selling it to private equity firm KKR for an undisclosed sum. Its 2017 revenue was $235.35 million, a four percent increase from 2016. The company, which operates 24 active lifestyle clubs in California, picked up one of those clubs in June 2017 when it acquired the Manhattan Country Club (MCC), Manhattan Beach, California, for $73 million.
The Bay Club Co. noted on its Top 100 form that it plans to acquire 12 clubs this year, likely using some of the cash infusion from KKR.
"In partnering with KKR, we are excited to build even further on what we’ve accomplished thus far and bring our unique offering to even more communities across the country," Matthew Stevens, president and CEO of The Bay Club Company, said in a media release announcing the sale.
No. 9: XSport Fitness (Capital Fitness)
Despite owning 39 clubs in three states, XSport Fitness, Big Rock, Illinois, is another press-shy company. It reported a 2 percent revenue increase with 2017 revenue of $195 million, keeping it at No. 9 on the list. Its models include larger multipurpose clubs as well as express models. The company noted on its form that it plans to build two clubs in 2018.
No. 10: Crunch
Crunch, New York, rounds out the top 10 for a second year, reporting $173 million in 2017 revenue from its 58 corporate clubs as well as franchisee fees from its 177 franchisees and four licensees as of the end of 2017. That’s an eight percent revenue increase from 2016. Much of that revenue increase can likely be attributed to the two corporate locations the company added in 2017 as well as the 62 new franchised locations. The company also expanded from 21 states to 24 in 2017. Six of the new locations in 2017 were five former World Gym locations in Buffalo, New York, that the company purchased for an undisclosed amount in May 2017.
In 2017, the company, which began franchising in 2010, welcomed its millionth member.
Crunch also was named to Entrepreneur’s 2017 Top Global Franchises list, ranking No. 104.
No. 11: EXOS
EXOS, Phoenix, remains at No. 11 this year, reporting $161.12 million in 2017 revenue, a 7.84 percent increase compared to 2016. The company, which was founded in 1999 as Athletes Performance, is mainly a management company with agreements for 461 locations for companies in sports, Fortune 100 companies, health care, the military and community organizations.
No. 12: UFC Gym
UFC Gym, Santa Ana, California, experienced growth of 17.46 percent in 2017 to grow to $148 million in revenue. A brand extension of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC Gym expanded from 125 franchised locations, 16 corporate clubs and four managed clubs at the end of 2016 to 139 franchised locations, 17 corporate clubs and five managed locations by the end of 2017. Despite the growth, the company remains at No. 12 on the Top 100 Clubs list.
In 2017, UFC Gym ranked No. 290 on Entrepreneur’s 2017 Franchise 500 list, but it dropped to No. 397 on this year’s Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list.
No. 13: Orangetheory Fitness
Orangetheory Fitness, Boca Raton, Florida, reported one of the largest revenue increases in 2017, increasing revenue by 45 percent to $136.44 million for its 20 corporate-owned locations and the franchising fees from its 844 franchised locations. That allowed the company to jump from No. 17 on last year’s list to No. 13 this year. Its growth is unlikely to slow, as it reported it plans to add almost 270 locations in 2018.
In May 2017, the company signed its 1000th U.S. franchise development agreement.
At that time, Dave Long, co-founder and chief executive officer of Orangetheory Fitness, said in a media release: "The rate at which Orangetheory Fitness has grown since launching in 2010 has far surpassed our wildest expectations. Signing our 1,000th franchise agreement for the U.S. is a huge deal and speaks volumes about Orangetheory’s impact on people’s lives all around the world."
In January 2017, Orangetheory was ranked No. 19 on Entrepreneur’s 2017 Franchise 500 list.
In August 2017, Orangetheory was named to Inc.’s 2017 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies, coming in at No. 926 with three-year’s growth of 474 percent.
No. 14: Chelsea Piers
Because of Orangetheory’s revenue increase, Chelsea Piers, Stamford, Connecticut, dropped to No. 14 this year despite a 3.5 percent revenue increase to $127 million in 2017. For next year’s list, the company should see even greater revenue with its opening earlier this year of a location in Brooklyn, New York.
No. 15: Anytime Fitness LLC
Anytime Fitness, Woodbury, Minnesota, reported 2017 revenue of $116.4 million, a 14.2 percent increase. The company had 3,823 franchised locations at the end of 2017 along with 38 corporate-owned locations. That compares to 3,405 franchised locations and 38 corporate-owned clubs at the end of 2016 for the company that was founded in 2002.
Other Health Clubs of Interest
Midtown Athletic Clubs, Chicago, had a big 2017, opening its renovated club on Elston Street in Chicago. The renovated and expanded location now includes a boutique hotel. Its revenue grew four percent to $107 million, but that wasn’t enough to keep it in the top 15; it dropped to No. 17 on this year’s list.
The list had several big movers beyond those already mentioned in the top 15.
The revenue for Vasa Fitness, Orem, Utah, grew by 30 percent to $91 million in 2017, moving it to No. 19 on this year’s list compared to No. 21 last year. It ended the year with 32 clubs compared to 26 in 2016, some of those in new states.
Harman Fitness, Chatsworth, California, reported 2017 revenue of $48 million, a 59 percent increase from 2016, moving up from No. 39 last year to No. 30 this year. The company is a Crunch and UFC Gym franchisee that also is a master franchisor of CR7 Fitness in Spain. It has 33 owned clubs and three that it manages, compared to 26 owned clubs and two managed clubs in 2016.
Club Pilates, Costa Mesa, California, provided its information for the first time this year and landed at No. 31 with $47.55 million in 2017 revenue, an increase of 77.6 percent from its 2016 revenue, according to the company. Founded in 2007, the reformer-based Pilates studio franchisor, which is part of Xponential Fitness and is backed by TPG Growth, has big plans for expansion in 2018, stating on its form that it plans to add 500 clubs this year to its 300 existing franchised locations.
Jumping from No. 38 to No. 32, Chuze Fitness, San Diego, reported a 37 percent increase in its revenue, noting it ended 2017 with $45 million from its 23 low-priced clubs. That’s an increase of two clubs from 2016.
Another big mover on the list was 9Round, the kickboxing franchisor located in Simpsonville, South Carolina. The company lands at No. 54 on the list, up from No. 93 last year. 9Round reported a 46.5 percent revenue increase to $16.16 million in 2017 revenue from the seven corporate-owned clubs and the franchisee fees at its 607 franchised locations. That compares to 449 total locations in 2016.
City Fitness, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, appears on the list for the first time with $10.62 million., a 35.1 percent increase in revenue from its five locations. That lands it at No. 69 on the list. It plans to build one new club this year.
Coming in at No. 85, Workout Anytime reported $5.49 million in 2017 revenue, a 26 percent increase in revenue for the Alpharetta, Georgia-based franchisor. The low-priced brand has one corporate-owned location and 142 franchised locations with plans to add 50 locations this year. As with all the franchisors, its reported revenue is revenue from its corporate-owned club and the franchisee fees for its franchised locations but not for those franchised locations’ revenue.
Beacon Health & Fitness, Granger, Indiana, added a second location in 2017, and that expansion gave the medical wellness-based brand $4 million in 2017 revenue, which was an 86 percent increase from 2016. This was the first year the company applied for the list, and its revenue landed it at No. 94. The company is building a third facility, slated to open next year.
Top 100 Caliber Companies Not on the List
Every year, several companies who deserve to be on the list decline to provide their information, and we are unable to secure accurate estimates from other sources, so they are left off the list. The following companies likely should be on the list but are not for this reason:
- The Alaska Clubs, Anchorage, Alaska
- American Family Fitness, Glen Allen, Virginia
- Baylor Tom Landry Health & Wellness Center, Dallas
- Brick Bodies, Timonium, Maryland
- California Family Fitness, Orangevale, California
- Cedardale Inc., Haverhill, Massachusetts
- Chicago Athletic Clubs, Chicago
- Curves International, Waco, Texas
- Exhale Spa, New York
- Fitness 19, Maple Valley, Washington
- Fitness USA, West Bloomfield, Michigan
- Franklin Athletic Club, Southfield, Michigan
- Genesis Health Clubs, Wichita, Kansas
- Gold's Gym International, Irving, Texas
- Gold's Gym LA, Los Angeles
- Healthplex Sports Club, Springfield, Pennsylvania
- In-Shape Health Clubs, Stockton, California
- Iowa Sports Clubs, Pelham, New York
- Jersey Strong (formerly WOW! Work Out World), Wall, New Jersey
- Las Vegas Athletic Clubs, Las Vegas
- Latitude Sports Clubs, Salsbury, Massachusetts
- Lowell Management (Gold's Gym Virginia and Wisconsin), Aspen, Colorado
- New York Health and Racquet Club, New York
- O2Fitness, Raleigh, North Carolina
- PRO Sports Club, Bellevue, Washington
- Retro Fitness, Colts Neck, New Jersey
- Saco Sport & Fitness, Saco, Maine
- Spearman Clubs Inc., Laguna Niguel, California
- Titan Fitness Holdings (Fitness Connection), McLean, Virginia
- Wisconsin Athletic Clubs, West Allis, Wisconsin
- World Gym International, Los Angeles
- YouFit, St. Petersburg, Florida
Acknowledgement and Thank You
Club Industry thanks Rick Caro, president of Management Vision, for his help with the Top 100 Clubs list and the analysis this year.
Thank you also to Emily Burgoon, contributor, for her work contacting companies and compiling the information for this year’s list.
And thank you to all the club company CEOs and CFOs who submitted their forms this year.
Next Year’s List
If you would like to be considered for next year’s list, please email Pamela Kufahl at [email protected] to be added to the invitation list.
To download a copy of the 2018 list, click on the button below.