24 Hour Fitness Vs. Bally Fitness
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24 Hour Fitness Vs. Bally Fitness

In this report

For the buyer seriously interested in purchasing a gym membership, both 24 Hour Fitness and Bally Fitness can accommodate your needs.  I would suggest trying the 7-day free trial membership at both gyms if you want a feel for the atmosphere.  Price-wise, both gyms are relatively economical, with Bally offering a seemingly lower monthly fee, but with less frills than Ultra Sport or Super Sport options at 24 Hour Fitness.  One of the main problems a buyer would face would be location.  An interested buyer in Pittsburgh, PA, for instance, has no option of 24 Hour Fitness or Bally (It is one of the Bally's that was taken over by LA Fitness).  Another problem would be the buyer may also find one gym atmosphere or culture to be intimidating.  A buyer is looking for the best bang for their dollar, and not always necessarily the cheapest option, if they are fitness enthusiasts.  Also, certain franchises may be in great shape, and some may not be maintained very well.  If a gym is dirty and unorganized, it may turn off many potential buyers.  

#1 - 24 Hour Fitness   http://www.24hourfitness.com

Here are some pros for 24 Hour Fitness:

  • Members who join any 24 Hour Fitness club have access to every single club in the United States.  
  • Every club is open 24 hours a day.
  • Personal Training Assurance.  If you lose your job, the equivalent balance of your unused training sessions will be refunded.  
  • 24 Hour Fitness clubs are typically not overly crowded, even at peak times, due to being open all of the time.

Here are some cons for 24 Hour Fitness:

  • 24 Hour Fitness clubs are only in 17 states.  You may not be near a 24 Hour Fitness location.  
  • Customer reviews are stating that some of the regular 24 Hour Fitness centers have heavily used equipment handed down from their Ultra Sport and Super Sport clubs.  
  • Complaints of overly pushy personal trainers and managers trying to sell to you frequently.

Pricing options for 24 Hour Fitness:

While the website does not specifically list prices, you have different options to choose from:

  • Monthly payments
  • Pre-Paid payments (30 days to 3 years)
  • One club membership
  • All Club membership

Each of these different membership options also comes with four different levels of access:

  1. Ultra Sport
  2. Super Sport
  3. Sport
  4. Active/Express/FitLife
#2 - Bally Fitness   http://www.ballyfitness.com

I have had a membership at Bally Fitness for nearly a year.  Here are some pros for Bally Fitness in comparison to 24 Hour Fitness:

  • The gyms are typically larger than 24 Hour Fitness gyms.
  • There are options for pre-workout and post-workout nutritional supplements in their store.
  • The sales people and personal trainers are less pushy than at 24 Hour Fitness (gathering information I have read in reviews).  I have worked out at three different Bally locations, and the staff actually treats you more like a human being without trying to sell to you every time you walk by them.  

Here are some cons for Bally Fitness in comparison to 24 Hour Fitness gyms:

  • Bally are not 24 Hour fitness facilities
  • They tend to get very crowded during the evenings (at least the Rockville, MD and Gaithersburg, MD locations did)
  • According to the LA Times, 171 Bally locations were taken over by LA Fitness, including the two Rockville, MD and Gaithersburg, MD locations I went to.  Bally lost a lot of the share in the fitness club market, while 24 Hour Fitness is growing nationwide.

Bally has a few options to choose from as far as pricing packages: 

  1. $9.99 bi-weekly local gym membership with a contract plan (Access to your home gym only)
  2. $13.99 bi-weekly local gym membership without a contract plan (Access to your home gym only)
  3. $14.99 bi-weekly nationwide gym membership (Access to every Bally Fitness in the U.S.)

Bally had a very cheap option with their 3 year plan or lifetime plans that some members have.  However, with the frequency that people move to different cities now and the struggling economy, very few people still choose either of those options.  

The Bottom Line

Bally Fitness is more suited for the buyer looking for a low monthly price.  Bally is more suited for those buyers who are not interested in too many frills.  Those particular buyers are looking to either strength train, lose weight, take classes, or swim at select locations.  24 Hour Fitness is more suited for the buyer who works abnormal hours.  It is also suited for buyers who want flexibility with their exercise time, rather than being forced to exercise during the peak busy hours, which are in the evening after most people leave work for the day.  Fitness enthusiasts may be interested in the Ultra Sport and Super Sport options available at many 24 Hour Fitness locations.  Overall, the trend is looking like more 24 Hour Fitness locations will continue to be built, while it remains to be seen if Bally can bounce back from bankruptcy, which is more of a manageable goal after LA Fitness acquired 171 of their locations.  

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Comments (2)

Good, solid advice.

Good information. We don't have access to these gyms in our area but we do have a new (small) Workout anytime gym, no contract required. $15 a month. No frills, no classes just equipment but they do have 5 televisions. It is enough for me. Thanks for the good article. Voting up.