24 Hour Fitness is a privately owned and operated fitness center chain headquartered in San Ramon, California. It is the world’s second largest fitness chain based on memberships after LA Fitness and the third in number of clubs (behind LA Fitness & Gold’s Gym), operating 420 clubs in only 13 U.S. states with four million clients to LA Fitness’s 725 clubs in 30 states. 24 Hour Fitness also employs a collections contracting company located in Jamaica. The company was founded by Mark S. Mastrov and owned by AEA Investors. 24 Hour Fitness operates a nutritional supplement company, Apex Fitness Group, which is also the distributor of the Bodybugg system. Their motto is “Improving lives through fitness.”
- 1 History
- 2 Operations
- 3 Criticisms
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Early history and founding
24 Hour Fitness was founded in 1983 by Mark Mastrov. Mastrov had been using a local gym for rehab after a knee injury and turned the gym into a 24-hour nautilus facility after buying out the owner. The company was originally named “24 Hour Nautilus.”
The company combined 24 Hour Nautilus, 24 Hour Family Fitness Centers, and Gold’s Gyms of Hawaii under the brand name 24 Hour Fitness in 1996.
2004-2008: Olympics and other sponsorships
In 2004, 24 Hour Fitness became a sponsor of the 2004-2008 United States Olympic teams. The sponsorship grants memberships to some U.S. Olympic hopefuls and includes upgrades to some U.S. Olympic Training Centers across the country, including renovation of the facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2004 to be followed by Lake Placid, New York, and Chula Vista, California.
24 Hour Fitness worked with NBC to develop a reality show, The Biggest Loser, which features 12 to 22 overweight contestants competing to lose weight over several million dollars. The show first aired in late 2004.
2009 to present: Acquisition and other operations
24 Hour Fitness formerly had some 15 clubs in Singapore and China. Besides the United States, it had centres in Singapore and Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai in China) through its wholly owned subsidiary California Fitness (CalFit). Its European clubs closed in the early 2000s. CalFit has been sold to a Hong Kong company in 2012, providing continuity and retaining the name and memberships without the bad closure experiences of CalWowX, whereby becoming an exclusively US gym chain.
Its former affiliate and spinoff California Wow Xperience (CalWowX), a California Fitness offshoot, formerly had member swap agreements with both 24 hour, then only California fitness, and at its height ran gyms located in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya in Thailand, including one female-only club. It was also listed on the stock exchange with major Thai corporate partners. CalWowX and CalFit former centers in Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan (10/1/2010) have closed or been sold off, with CalWowX franchised gyms in Korea being abruptly closed on contracted members without reimbursement. Similarly, the CalWowX Thailand was charged with criminal embezzlement by local investment banks before abruptly closing with millions of dollars in debts and angry customers left empty handed who had signed up for lifetime membership.
In August 2012, the owner of 24 Hour Fitness put the 416 location gym chain on the auction block with a price tag reported to have been close to $2 billion. After being courted by various interests for over six months, ultimately in January 2012, the board of directors took 24 Hour Fitness off the market. Offers reportedly fell short of the asking price.
In May 2014, Forstmann Little & Co. has reportedly sold 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc. to a group of investors for $1.85 billion to an investment group led by AEA Investors LP and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
As of 2017, 24 Hour Fitness has over 4 million members and more than 420 clubs in 13 states, with more than 22,000 employees. Its major competitors in the US are Anytime Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Aspen Fitness, and LA Fitness.
On July 31, 2007, 24 Hour Fitness settled a class-action lawsuit brought against it by 1.8 million current and former members. The plaintiffs claimed damages for the continuation of automatic withdrawals by 24 Hour Fitness long after their monthly memberships were canceled by request. In McCardle vs 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc., the Alameda County Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs of the class-action lawsuit. In 2010, the court found that 24 Hour Fitness did not act in good faith after denying members who purchased an “All Club” membership access to rebranded locations without charging additional fees not disclosed in the original contract.
Six former employees of 24 Hour Fitness filed a separate class-action lawsuit on July 13, 2010. This lawsuit was brought in the State of California pursuant to allegations that 24 Hour Fitness discriminated based on race and gender in their promotion practices. The claimants are either females, minorities, or both.
As of March 2, 2013[update], 805 complaints had been registered against 24 Hour Fitness with the Better Business Bureau in the previous three years, 276 in the previous 12 months. 24 Hour Fitness has an A+ rating with the private non-governmental organization.