24-hour clubs becoming more popular
Wed, April 18, 2012 at 16:35
Brad Spiegel in 24-hour, Cotton, Hirschhorn, Mercado, Schroeder
Gone are the days where the working population goes to heads out the door to punch the clock at 9 in the morning, returning at 5 to the loving embrace of their family. 
With international components to jobs so prevalent, being awake at odd hours (meaning late) is a necessity. And with the recent tanking of the economy, more and more people are forced to work second and third shift positions.
So it is no wonder that 24-hour gyms and fitness centers are popping up all over the United States.
IHRSA recently reported that the number of gyms now open 24 hours a day nears the 2,000 mark, up from a couple hundred only five years ago.
Members’ work hours and habits aren’t the only reasons for the recent growth spurt. Technology has also aided the new trend. 
Video cameras are present for gym-goers’ safety and owners knowing the property is protected from vandalism; key fobs and access cards allow owners from having to employ someone to work the overnight shift; and many have an automatic connection to the local emergency facilities in case of a medical situation.
"Cameras on the doors, cameras in the clubs, safety buttons … set (24-hour clubs) apart," said Meredith Poppler, spokesperson at IHRSA. "Many of the operators are in the clubs at certain times of days, but other times the clubs are truly unstaffed."
But what it comes down to is accessibility. The ability for a member to come anytime during the day is what often is the difference in a membership.

“For us, we’re providing a service; everyone likes to have access 24 hours a day,” said George Schroeder of Cedar Springs Health, Racquet and Sportsclub in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. “The traffic at night is not particularly high, but we have many people who join (the club) specifically because we are open 24 hours.”
Jay Hirschhorn, owner of J’s Big Gym in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, said that despite only a handful of people working out after midnight it benefits him to keep the doors unlocked. He said the costs non-existent since the maintenance person also mans the overnight shift.
“The theory is the cost (of being open 24 hours) is only electricity and labor,” said Hirschhorn, who, due to practically no traffic, closes at 10 p.m. on Fridays, and 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. “Those costs are offset by few memberships we generate for being open 24 hours.
“If 1-2 people a week sign up (because 24-hour accessibility) then that will takes care of overnight guy’s salary.”
For Cody Mercado, Club manager at Anytime Fitness in Machesney Park, Ill., the numbers show that his club is more than breaking even.
For the past week, of the 1,200 member visits to the 24/7/365 club, 215 (18 percent) came in between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“With the name ‘Anytime Fitness’ people realize they can come in anytime,” he said. “When I talk to people who are considering joining they felt their past gyms were constricting because they closed at 8 or 9 (at night). 
“I think we definitely have a competitive advantage. Members really like that feature. When they do a side-by-side comparison (being open 24 hours) tends to weigh heavily.”
Anytime Fitness has 1,900 clubs worldwide. At Mercado’s location they use a key fob system and have an emergency button to the local 911 and emergency necklaces – like Life Alert – for the older clientele.
Rod Cotton, owner of Snap Fitness in Santa Clara, Calif., feels the increase in his business is due to the recent upturn in the economy. Being in a city of more than 1 million he said he will always have a strong flow of people in the late hours – an average of 15-20 between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“(Our numbers) aren’t a lot but those who use it do use it because it is open (24 hours),” said Cotton. 


Article originally appeared on IHRSA (http://www.ihrsa.org/).
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