The Washington Post

Strength in numbers: US Fitness flexes its muscle with acquisition of Sport & Health

Galiani brothers gobble up popular Washington health club chain

Kirk (left) and John Galiani, here in 1997, have been in the health club business for more than two decades. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

The former owners of Gold’s Gym are steadily building yet another fitness empire in the Mid-Atlantic region.

McLean-based US Fitness Holdings, a partnership between brothers Kirk and John Galiani and New Evolution Ventures of California, announced Friday that it has purchased Washington-area fitness center chain Sport & Health Clubs for an undisclosed amount, nearly doubling its foothold in the region.

Started three years ago, US Fitness operates clubs under New Evolution’s brands of OneLife Fitness and Crunch clubs, with about a dozen gyms in and around the nation’s capital. It’s newly acquired 23 Sport & Health locations will continue to operate under the Sport & Health brand.

“We think that Sport & Health is an iconic Washington, D.C., brand,” Kirk Galiani said, noting that he and his brother grew up in the Washington region. He added that he was particularly impressed with the team of employees Sport & Health has built over the past few decades, from the executives and general managers to fitness trainers. “A lot of what we bought was just really good people,” Kirk said.

US Fitness has allocated an initial $10 million to renovate and add new equipment to Sport & Health locations across the region over the next few months, as well as completing the chain’s newest location under construction in Rockville.

Meanwhile, the Galianis noted that they are in talks to make yet another acquisition in the Mid-Atlantic corridor, but outside the Washington region.

The brothers, who previously helped build Gold’s Gym International into one of the largest health club chains in the world, will serve as co-executive chairmen of US Fitness. Sport & Health’s chief executive, Mark Fisher, and chief financial officer, Scott Thomas, will retain their roles.

Sport & Health started with its first gym in Arlington in 1973. Fisher was unavailable for an interview but said in a statement that he has “followed the Galianis through their career” and expressed excitement about joining “one of the dominant health club operators in the country.”

The acquisition marks the latest in a series of consolidations in the local fitness center industry. Last month, Equinox Fitness, which has locations in Bethesda and Tysons Corner, announced that it had acquired six Sports Club/LA locations, including the 100,000-square-foot outlet at the Ritz-Carlton in the District’s West End.

A year earlier, Gold’s Gym gobbled up locally owned chain Fitness First and its 18 fitness centers in the Washington region for upwards of $30 million.

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J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.



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