Exterior view of a Crunch Fitness (formerly the McBurney YMCA building) in 2017.
Crunch was founded in 1989 as a fitness studio by Doug Levine, a former stockbroker. The clubs became popular by appealing to young upscale members and featuring heavy promotions and marketing with some humorous and sexual connotations. They were initially profitable in large part due to successful promotion of logo merchandise sales within the clubs.
Bally Total Fitness
Bally Total Fitness bought Crunch in 2001 for $90 million in cash and stock. Initially intending to double the size to 40 gyms, Bally found the business unprofitable and was unable to get out of long-term leases in poorly performing locations. In 2005 Bally's sold Crunch to Angelo, Gordon & Co., a private equity firm, for $45 million. In May, 2009 the chain filed for bankruptcy, as part of a reorganization by which it was acquired by New Evolution Fitness Company ("NEFC"), a company founded by Mark Mastrov (co-founder of 24 hour fitness), Jim Rowley and some of the Angelo Gordon principals. NEFC was developing plans in 2009 to open a series of UFC-related gyms. The first of the UFC gyms opened in November, 2009 in Concord, California, with other gyms planned for Canada and Hawaii. With recent developments into the introduction into the Australian fitness industry, Crunch is continuing its international expansion by opening gyms in larger areas such as Sydney CBD .
Group Fitness Classes
Initially, Crunch featured some unusual classes such as pole dancing, bicycle-based yoga, coed wrestling, an "Abs, Thighs and Gossip" class run by a drag queen, and Capoeira. Although the classes were later standardized across various locations, some popular offbeat classes remain, such karaoke bicycling,  POUND, Antigravity Yoga, and many more.
Crunch’s wide array of dynamic group fitness classes include The Ride – the gym’s proprietary stationary bike workouts – Cardio Tai Box, Yoga Body Sculpt, Fat Burning Pilates, Jillian Michaels Bodyshred™ and Zumba®. Members interested in a particularly unique workout experience can also take classes based around things like pole dancing, TRX suspension ropes, 4D PRO® Bungee Sling Trainer or CirqFIT® aerial dancing. Many Crunch classes have developed a loyal following among members due to knowledgeable instructors’ dedication to form and their commitment to creating a community within classes.
In 2010, Crunch launched its franchise arm to bring the company’s fitness experience to locations around the country at an affordable price point, with memberships starting at $9.95 per month. In the process, they helped develop a fitness market segment that offers classes and amenities previously associated primarily with high-end gyms at a lower price point.
The company has two categories of gyms: Signature and Franchise. Crunch Signature locations are clubs with monthly memberships that typically range from $85 – $130, mainly located in major metropolitan areas, which offer a wider array of services, classes and amenities than a standard Crunch Fitness location. As of 2019, 30 of Crunch’s locations were Signature gyms.
On July 1st, 2019, it was announced that private-equity firm TPG is acquiring Crunch Fitness through its growth-equity unit.
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