24-hour gyms on the rise in Lexington

Jen and Eric Cowden own Workout Anytime on Mapleleaf Drive.
Jen and Eric Cowden own Workout Anytime on Mapleleaf Drive. Lexington Herald-Leader

Seeing someone run on a treadmill or lift weights at 2 a.m. is becoming more common across the United States. That's because 24-hour fitness gyms are a growing industry, catering to the busy schedules of Americans who find it difficult to carve out time to get proper exercise.

"These gyms are convenient and work around people's busy schedules," said Michelle Blake, director of the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America trade group. "They also tend to be cheaper so everyone will be able to afford the membership prices."

The chain Snap Fitness opened in Lexington in 2009 and now has six locations in Central Kentucky. Another, Planet Fitness, opened last year in Lexington.

The newest 24-hour gym to enter the market is an outpost of the Dunwoody, Ga.-based chain Workout Anytime. Founded in 1999 by fitness industry veterans John Quattrocchi and Steve Strickland, it has more than 75 locations, mostly in the Southeast.

Lexington franchise owners Eric and Jen Cowden opened their Workout Anytime on Mapleleaf Drive hoping to attract a variety of clients, they said.

The gym has what owners describe as state-of-the-art equipment at a value price and includes showers, locker rooms and personal trainers. There are no contracts, and fees start at $15 a month. For $25 a month, a premium membership includes unlimited warm-water massages, a monthly fitness evaluation, and tanning. Workout Anytime also has a reACT training machine, which focuses on core and lower-body workouts and combines strength, balance and stability training.

"We really care for our members, "Jen Cowden said. "We have member appreciation parties, contests, and other little treats."

Through July, Workout Anytime will donate a percentage of all enrollments to the Lexington Humane Society.

"There are not too many 24-hour gyms in Lexington," said Jim Benson, owner of the Snap Fitness on Clearwater Way, one of two in Lexington. The Chanhassen, Minn.-based chain also has gyms in Versailles, Nicholasville, Lawrenceburg and Mount Sterling.

"We have a neighborhood feel, and we are very efficient," he said.

Snap Fitness, which offers a free fitness consultation to members, has three personal trainers and offers boot camps and small group trainings. Central Kentucky locations are staffed from five to eight hours most days.

Memberships are offered in single, joint and family arrangements and can be month-to-month or full-year commitments. Prices run $39.95 to $64.95.

"Snap Fitness is one of the fastest growing segments of the health club market," said Meredith Poppler, vice president of industry growth at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.

Founded in 2003, it has 1,400 clubs nationwide and opens 15 to 20 new locations each month, according to its website.

Planet Fitness, a Newington, N.H.-based chain with some 600 locations, is easily the cheapest 24-hour gym. Memberships start at $10 a month and include access to fitness trainers and locker rooms.

For a "black card" membership — which includes half-price drinks, tanning and massage chairs — customers pay $19.99 but must sign a 12-month agreement.

"We don't offer all the other perks like basketball courts, pools or child care," said Taylor Pulice, manager of the Lexington Planet Fitness. "This gym is for people that want to work out and don't need anything extra."

Like Snap Fitness and Workout Anytime, Planet Fitness has trainers, but its gyms are fully staffed around the clock.

The chain also touts being a "judgment-free zone" and hosts pizza and Tootsie Roll nights once a month.

"Each of these 24-hour gyms is beneficial in their own way," said Stuart Goldman, executive editor of the trade publication Club Industry. "Workout Anytime is led by industry veterans, Snap Fitness does a good job of supporting their franchises, and Planet Fitness caters to people's budgets.

"This type of industry has grown. These aren't your traditional gyms, and people appreciate that."


Planet Fitness

Details: 1650 Bryan Station Rd. (859) 368-7223.

Rates: $10 a month for standard membership, $19.99 for black card membership, which requires 12-month agreement

Locations in chain: More than 600 (one in Lexington)

Headquarters: Newington, N.H.

Snap Fitness

Details: 129 Towne Center Dr., (859) 226-2935. 4384 Clearwater Way, (859) 271-8210. Locations also in Versailles, Nicholasville, Lawrenceburg and Mount Sterling.

Rates: $39.95 a month for singles (one adult older than 18), $54.95 for joint membership (two adults older than 18 and living in the same residence), $64.95 for families (two adults older than 18 plus one to three minors living at the same residence).

Locations in chain: More than 1,400 (two in Lexington)

Headquarters: Chanhassen, Minn.

Workout Anytime

Details: 3130 Mapleleaf Dr. (859) 223-0200.

Rates: $15 a month for standard membership, $25 for premium membership

Locations in chain: More than 75 (one in Lexington)

Headquarters: Dunwoody, Ga.