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Gym reviews: Bally Total Fitness

There has been a lot of growth in recent years in the health club market, new brands have emerged and old firms have expanded their operations. One of the old firms that has expanded has been that of Bally Total Fitness. Bally Fitness is an offshoot of an entertainment firm that has been in operation since before the Second World War, although the health clubs have a more contemporary history, dating back to the mid-1960s. Either side of the turn of the century though massive expansion occurred.

At its peak, Bally Total Fitness was one of the biggest and most popular health clubs currently in operation in North America. The company boasting some four million active members worldwide, getting fit at in excess of three hundred and twenty-five clubs in North America, with a further eighty clubs found in the Caribbean and Asia. Franchises operating under names linked to Bally Total Fitness and Bally Sports Clubs. In 2007 and 2008 bankruptcy proceedings saw the company sell of many of its clubs to rivals, including LA Fitness, and today there are only about 50 clubs still operating under the Bally Total Fitness logo.

Bally Total Fitness though still offers a range of services. To start with there is the latest cardiovascular and weight equipment for members to use. It is though the supplementary services that set Bally fitness clubs apart from its rivals. Initially there is a personal training service that can be shaped to meet the individual needs of a member; there are also physical rehabilitation services on offer. Nutritionists are also normally available to tell you about healthy eating, although be prepared to be sold products linked to the health club. Aerobic, yoga and dance fitness classes will be run on an organised basis in most venues as well.

The membership options are not always straightforward but in basic you can purchase membership that allows access to just a single club, or else purchase premier membership that allows access to all clubs in the Bally Total Fitness group of health clubs.

In recent years Bally Total Fitness has received a lot of negative press, and many franchise were reported because of their accountancy processes and also their membership procedures. Experiences of individual clubs have been hit and miss, although since the company has emerged from bankruptcy customer satisfaction has improved.

Choosing Bally Total Fitness may be a trade off of negative and positive aspects. On the negative the popularity of Bally Total Fitness may well mean that you will be undertaking your workouts in a crowded environment. Also the Bally fitness clubs are also a commercialised experience, and you will find a lot of selling of products linked to health and the club. Additionally the commercial aspect also sees membership prices higher than many of its rival firms.

You do though get what you pay for and most clubs have a lot to offer, and unless you are truly serious about your fitness you may struggle to make use of all of the available benefits. You will though get access to some of the best and newest technology and fitness equipment. Many clubs also provide access to pools, running tracks and squash and tennis courts. The professionalism of the health clubs though is also a major benefit of being a member of Bally Total Fitness.