Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2005 (Revised September 2016)

24 Hour Fitness (A): The Rise, 1983–2004

by John R. Wells, Elizabeth A. Raabe and Gabriel Ellsworth

Abstract

In October 2004, Mark S. Mastrov, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, reflected on how far his company had come in just over 20 years. From humble beginnings in 1983 in San Leandro, California, 24 Hour Fitness had grown to become the largest privately-owned health-club chain in the world. The company operated 346 clubs in 15 U.S. states and 10 countries, and it employed 16,000, serving 3 million members. Revenues exceeded $1 billion. The challenge ahead for Mastrov was making choices in the face of so many opportunities. Should he focus the business on the domestic market and expand into the many states the company had not entered yet or devote more resources to international expansion? If he decided to expand into the Northeast, how should the company enter against entrenched competitors like Bally Total Fitness? Would a major acquisition make sense, or would it threaten the company’s culture? And how should he fund such an acquisition? An IPO had many attractions, but it would expose the company to a whole new set of challenges.

Keywords: 24 Hour Fitness; Mark Mastrov; health clubs; fitness; gyms; chain; weight loss; exercise; personal training; retention; Sales force compensation; Incentive systems; Buildings and Facilities; Business Growth and Maturation; Business Model; For-Profit Firms; Customers; Customer Focus and Relationships; Customer Satisfaction; Private Equity; Revenue; Geographic Scope; Multinational Firms and Management; Nutrition; Business History; Employees; Recruitment; Selection and Staffing; Human Capital; Business or Company Management; Goals and Objectives; Growth and Development Strategy; Marketing; Operations; Service Operations; Private Ownership; Problems and Challenges; Sales; Salesforce Management; Sports; Strategy; Business Strategy; Competition; Competitive Advantage; Competitive Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Expansion; Segmentation; Information Technology; Internet; Technology Platform; Web; Web Sites; Capital Structure; Performance; Organizational Structure; Organizational Culture; Health Industry; United States; California; San Francisco;

Citation:

Wells, John R., Elizabeth A. Raabe, and Gabriel Ellsworth. "24 Hour Fitness (A): The Rise, 1983–2004." Harvard Business School Case 706-404, July 2005. (Revised September 2016.)