Good answers, especially Karin and Stephen. Every facility is different. Just because a particular facility is tied with a major name franchise, it’s no assurance that their programs, staff and training will be outstanding. Visit a facility of interest, talk with the training staff, see if the equipment and programs meet your needs and goals. Base you joining decision is the particular facility, not the major chain it’s associated with.
There was an article in the recent IHRSA Club Business Int’l publication regarding the ranking of health clubs in the U.S. (a good read)http://www.ihrsa.org/cbi/2011/6/30/the-ihrsa-global-25.html
… as well as a listing of the Top 100 Clubs in the July issue of Club Industry.
According to their listing the top 3 (in revenue & employees) are 24 HR Fitness (#1), LA Fitness (#2) and Life Time Fitness (#3)
There was quite a few that did not make the list (such as Equinox) because they did not submit a form.
(The Co. I work for was rated #33)
Fitness chains are often franchises, and while there are standards set forth for each franchise, they are usully under local management and operation. It is quite possible to find a superbly run Gold’s Gym (just to use as an example) in one town and be disappointed in the next. And that manifests itself particuarly in the service that those gyms are offering.