What Is Anytime Fitness?

Published on: Jan 11, 2017

Anytime Fitness is an international gym chain with smaller, boutique-style facilities that are open 24 hours a day.

This combination of features is what differentiates it from other big-box gyms and draws a specific type of customer.

Another differentiating factor is that Anytime Fitness is relatively new. It started in 2002, whereas competitors like Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, and 24 Hour Fitness have been in business for more than two decades.

The company started its first gym in Cambridge, Minn., under the leadership of Chuck Runyon, Dave Mortenson, and Jeff Klinger. The trio continued to build their business throughout the United States and opened their first Canadian club in 2005.

Anytime Fitness now has a network of more than 3,300 clubs across the world and has a membership of more than 3 million. Runyon (CEO) and Mortenson (President) are still with the company.

Because Anytime Fitness has a smaller feel despite its big membership, we thought it would be interesting to dig into what they offer, what people are saying about them and what, if any, news they’re making across the country.

Knowing these different areas of how a gym operates can give you a pretty good idea if you’ll enjoy your membership with them.

What Does Anytime Fitness Offer?

Whenever you’re figuring out which gym you want to join, you usually think through what it has to offer in the way of fees, amenities, personal training/classes and philosophy. We think it’s a great approach, and that’s why we’re covering each of those sub-categories in the next few minutes.

Anytime Fitness Fees

All of the major gyms we’ve reviewed post fees and monthly dues on their website. Anytime Fitness was a little different – you can’t get pricing directly from their website.

You have to fill out a contact form that includes your phone number, and once you submit the form, you’ll eventually get a call from one of their sales reps.

Based on what we found on dues database site GymMembershipFees.com (GMF), we know that Anytime Fitness offers two types of memberships: single and dual, and both of these memberships can be paid for in one lump sum (12-month contract) or in monthly payments (month-to-month).

During research we did for an article about the gym industry, we visited an Anytime Fitness near us. We were quoted a price of $38.99 per month, along with an initiation fee of $49, both of which were for a one-person membership. These prices were comparable to what GMF estimated: $38.99 for single and $59.99 for dual.

If you go with Anytime Fitness’ one-time annual fee instead of monthly payments, you can expect to save between $5 and $7 a month. These savings may not be worth it to you considering a majority of people stop using their gym memberships within one year of signing up.

Also expect to pay a $35 fee for the key fob that you use to get into the club during unstaffed hours.

If you’re interested in Anytime Fitness but don’t want to commit, you can sign up for a seven-day pass that gives you access to your local club during staffed business hours.

Anytime Fitness Amenities

Most Anytime Fitness locations offer cardio machines, several body-weight machines, weight machines and free weights. Each location also has a classroom space as well as individual lockers and showers.

Anytime Fitness National Media Director Mark Daly told us that the company works with the following equipment vendors, whose products may vary from location to location: Precor, Life Fitness, Octane, and Torque.

Our visit to our local Anytime Fitness also revealed a workout corner with yoga mats and fitness balls. The sales associate said that the gym’s classroom space was available, when not in use, for members to use for personal workouts.

While we got the tour of the gym, the sales rep introduced us to the manager, who welcomed us to the gym. Compared to the big-box gym experiences we had – cavernous workout areas, no manager in sight – we felt this was a nice perk.

We realized there’s a reason why you can’t see pricing on Anytime Fitness’ website – they want you to come to the property to meet you personally and sell you on the tight-knit atmosphere of their gym.

Reminder: Amenities vary by location, so we suggest visiting your local Anytime Fitness to understand what’s available to you.

Anytime Fitness Training and Classes

Unlike competitors Planet Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, and LA Fitness, Anytime Fitness does not include classes in the price of their members.

We contacted Anytime Fitness to find out why this was the case, and Mark Daly told us the company doesn’t want its clients to pay for classes they may or may not use.

“We believe that our members should only have to pay for the services and programming that they actually use,” Mark said. “When classes are free at big-box clubs, then the members of those clubs that are NOT taking classes are, in effect, subsidizing the cost of the classes for others.”

As for personal training, we did some research on Anytime Health, AF’s official wellness website, and found several posts about pricing. The most accurate estimate of training prices came from a staff member named James who responded to a post titled, “What are the range of trainer fees.”

James noted that some clubs in Pasadena, Calif., charge between $100 and $125 per hour, while clubs in Fort Wayne, Ind., charged $35–$50 an hour.

We even found a post that said a trainer at an Anytime Fitness in Pearl, Miss., charged $25 per hour.

The prices we found during our research are relatively normal, and maybe even a few dollars below the national average of $60–$70.

Some Tips for Finding a Good Trainer

But the larger question, of course, is whether or not you need a trainer. As we wrote in our article about 17 tips to achieving your New Year’s resolution, having a personal trainer can be a powerful tool in sticking with your fitness goals for the year.

For people who haven’t had a gym membership, hiring a trainer for four or five introductory sessions can be a great way to familiarize yourself with the gym’s equipment and create a workout plan that can help you meet your goals.

But, don’t be afraid to talk with a couple of trainers to find out which trainer is best equipped to work with you and create a personalized workout for your particular situation. You need to find someone who is just as excited about your goals as you are.

Also, we suggest paying per session for the first one or two sessions to make sure your trainer is a good fit. If you feel like you’ve found a match, try and bargain for a four- or five-session package that’s cheaper than four or five sessions purchased separately.

Anytime Fitness Philosophy

Mark Daly told us Anytime Fitness’ main philosophy is helping their clients reach the fitness goals through solid relationships between staff and customer.

“The atmosphere at Anytime Fitness gyms is friendly and supportive. Trainers and managers at many Anytime Fitness gyms know the names of every single one of their members,” Mark said. “In fact, we like to think of Anytime Fitness as ‘Cheers without the beers’ – a place where everybody knows your name.”

The level of personal attention needed to make that happen, Mark said, explains why Anytime Fitness is more expensive than other gyms.

“Anytime Fitness is not the cheapest gym in town. But our members are loyal because they get the support and guidance they need to achieve their fitness goals,” Mark said. “Other gyms may be cheaper, but it’s true that you get what you pay for.”

Anytime Fitness Reviews: What People Are Saying About Anytime Fitness

The majority of the reliable reviews we found about Anytime Fitness came through the company’s Better Business Bureau page and through numerous Yelp reviews of individual locations.

What makes the process of analyzing reviews so difficult with Anytime Fitness and nearly every other gym is that each location is franchised, which means it is independently owned and operated.

In one sense, this is great. The gym’s manager and employees will most likely be from the area. But, in another sense, it’s not beneficial to the consumer because what consumers say about a gym in Portland, OR, could be completely different from what they say about a gym in Trenton, N.J. There’s no consistent consumer experience, in our opinion.

Based on this information, we think it’s best that you consult Yelp or Google reviews for the Anytime Fitness in your town or city. These reviews help you understand what’s happening in your gym.

However, when it comes to big-picture issues like billing and contracts, it’s best to research sites that have a national reach and aren’t focused on one particular location in the Anytime Fitness network.

We’ve done that research and have found that many of the complaints about Anytime Fitness are similar to what we read for Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, and 24 Hour Fitness: billing, billing, billing.

Many customer complaints about billing centered on scenarios that played out when they tried to cancel their memberships. There were complaints that gym managers said cancellation required paying the remaining monthly payments of the contract, in full.

Anytime Fitness clients also complained about charges appearing on their bank or credit-card accounts after they canceled their memberships.

Still, others said that, when they expressed their desire to cancel, were told they couldn’t do it over the phone and had to send a written letter. They were then told the written letter didn’t work and they had to do it in person.

One customer said her cancellation wouldn’t be processed for two weeks because that’s how long it would take for a member of corporate to swing by the gym and collect cancellation forms.

Contracts, Contracts, Contracts!

In our article about the gym industry, we talked about how around 7 out of 10 people will sign up for a gym membership and then, eventually, never use it.

Yes, it’s a sobering reflection of our short-term enthusiasm for fitness. But it’s also a fact that drives the sales side of the gym industry.

Think of it this way. You can either sell cars or rent cars month-to-month with no contract, and you know that customers who drive your cars find no use for them after two months. Which benefits you most? Selling the car instead of renting it month-to-month, of course.

The same thing goes for the gym industry. Sales associates will push hard to get you to sign up for a one-year contract because they know there’s a really good chance that, for eight months of that year, you won’t pop into the gym more than once or twice.

To make sure you choose that contract, they’ll usually offer you sweet discounts and perks. And what happens if you want to cancel that contract after four months? You’ll have to buy out the remaining monthly dues.

It is your responsibility to read over your contract and know the terms inside and out. Don’t sign up for a membership the same day you visit the gym for the first time.

Ask for a copy of the contract, then take it home and read it. Write down any questions you have about weird wording or fees, then ask those questions next time you go to the gym.

Also, don’t assume that what the salesperson tells you is actually true. The only things that are true are what’s listed in your contract.

If you try to cancel by saying the salesperson told you that you could end your contract after six months, you’re likely to get a blank stare or an excuse about how “that person is no longer with us” or, “they were mistaken and we can’t honor that promise.”

Again, these tips aren’t directed specifically toward potential Anytime Fitness customers, but to all customers of all gyms. Your wallet lives and dies by your contract.

However, we did find one provision in Anytime’s contracts that could help you out when you move. If you relocate to a place that is farther than 25 miles from the nearest Anytime Fitness, you can cancel without any penalties.

Anytime Fitness in the News

Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, and 24 Hour Fitness have all been involved in relatively high-profile court cases in the past 10 years involving allegedly fraudulent billing, contracts or pricing. Absent from that list is Anytime Fitness, who has managed to stay clear of high-profile lawsuits.

In fact, the three results we found on legal website Law360 were contract-related lawsuits brought by Anytime Fitness, not its customers. A court document from a 2016 case revealed that Anytime Fitness was bringing legal action against one of its franchise owners.

As compared to the other three gyms we mentioned, Anytime Fitness has a relatively clean record.

On the positive side of things, Entrepreneur has ranked Anytime Fitness one of the best franchise opportunities in the country, consistently placing the company in the top 20 and ranking it #14 for 2017. Entrepreneur named Anytime Fitness the top franchise company in the United States in 2014.

Our Final Thoughts About Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness is an interesting gym because it’s different enough from competitors to make it stand out. Normally, a gym boasts unique amenities and perks that make it outshine the competition.

But, in the case of Anytime Fitness, our belief is that the gym stands out because most of its locations are small and more intimate than the cavernous properties of its competitors. Plus, they’re open 24 hours a day.

This “perk” of course, isn’t for everyone. Those who like the anonymity of a big gym and who don’t want to be greeted by management from time to time will probably enjoy a comparably priced membership at LA Fitness.

However, if you’re the kind of person who feels than being in a community helps you achieve your fitness goals, Anytime Fitness could be a great match for you.

Also, if you’re the kind of person who likes chit-chatting with the owner, Anytime Fitness may be a good fit; the smaller size of your gym means you’ll most likely run into the manager from time to time.

As far as costs go, Anytime’s monthly memberships are higher than the competition and they don’t include free classes. If cost is an issue for you, LA Fitness and Planet Fitness are better suited for your bottom line.

We believe, based on research, that Anytime Fitness’ small spaces and more intimate communities provide an environment you can’t find from LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, and 24 Hour Fitness. You’ll pay for that privilege, but it just might be worth it.

Before you sign on with your local AF, make sure you ask for a copy of your contract and read it over. Doing so helps eliminate any “surprise” fees that may come up during the year.

And remember, when you sign your contract, you are locked in. There won’t be many cases in which you can get out of it without paying a hefty fee.

Read Next: An Overview of 4 Popular Gyms and How to Choose the Best Membership

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