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Capital Business
Posted at 04:31 PM ET, 06/20/2013

Gold’s Gym acquires Fitness First health clubs

Weights are used in the fitness class held at Gold's Gym. (DON HEUPEL - ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Fitness First, the locally owned gym chain, has been acquired by Gold’s Gym and expects 17 of its 18 of gyms to convert in coming weeks.

Amy Dipasquale, chief operating officer at Fitness First, said the companies completed much of the paperwork Wednesday night on the deal, which she valued at between $30 million and $40 million.

Founded by Peter Harvey in Silver Spring, Fitness First has 60,000 members in the area. Jim Snow, president of Gold’s Gym, said Fitness First members were not likely to see many short-term changes.

“They will not see any difference to speak of initially and then in the next couple of months, two-to-four months, the gyms will be re-branded and we’ll issue new cards and things like that,” he said.

Snow said the deal gives Gold’s, founded in California and now based in Irving, Texas, more than 50 locations in the Washington area. Fitness First members will be granted access to existing Gold’s locations, of which there are about 675 in the U.S. and abroad. “The D.C. market is known for, you know, health-conscience folks and heavy users of the facilities,” he said.

Fitness First has about 900 employees. Snow said he planned to keep all Fitness First store associates and would begin hiring them within days. “They are really the most important part of the acquisition. Our gyms are our people. We are going to keep them all,” he said.

Dipasquale said Fitness First made the deal with the hope that changes to staff and members would be minimal. “I think that when this possibility of the acquisition was in front of us it was very important that there be very little impact on our staff and our members,” she said.

Fitness First opened its first location on Layhill Road in Silver Spring in 1991. It grew quickly through Montgomery County and began adding locations in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County, as well as one gym in the District. Dipasquale said the company had annual revenue of more than $35 million.

Harvey sent an e-mail to club members Thursday afternoon thanking them for their business and saying that the gym’s Bethesda location would remain unaffected. “I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support over the years – from new members to those who have been on board for 22 years,” he wrote. “I hope we’ve made a difference for you, and I wish you all future success and great health!”

Snow said the Bethesda location was excluded from the deal because of “real estate issues” associated only with that gym and that he expected to continue to operate as a Fitness First.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

By  |  04:31 PM ET, 06/20/2013

Tags:  Fitness First, Gold's Gym

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