CHANHASSEN, MN -- Things are looking up for Life Time Fitness after the company released its second quarter 2009 financial results today.

Life Time’s stock climbed almost 18 percent after its results, which showed a year-over-year 11 percent membership increase and beat financial analysts’ expectations. The Chanhassen, MN-based company also raised its 2009 earnings outlook.

Life Time reported a 10.5 percent revenue growth in second quarter 2009 to $212.5 million from the $192.4 million the company generated in second quarter 2008. For the six months ended June 30, 2009, revenue grew 11.2 percent to $419 million from $376.9 million during the same period in 2008.

Same-center revenue, however, was down 4.4 percent in second quarter 2009 from second quarter 2008, and revenue per member was down 2 percent.

Net income dipped in the second quarter to $18.3 million from $19.8 million in second quarter 2008. Net income for the first six months of this year—$33.4 million—also was down from the $37.2 million the company posted during the same time last year.

Despite those numbers, Life Time CEO Bahram Akradi saw other highlights in the results.

“We generated free cash flow for the second consecutive quarter, paid down approximately $7 million of debt and continued to live within our means,” Akradi said during the earnings call with analysts.

Memberships at Life Time totaled 608,281 on June 30, 2009, up from 547,497 on June 30, 2008. Life Time’s attrition rate fell slightly from first quarter 2009 (42.7 percent) to second quarter 2009 (41.5 percent).

Life Time’s stock was at $27.44 in mid-afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The previous close was $23.55. The stock’s 52-week low was $7.07.

Investment firms Stifel Nicolaus & Co. and Dougherty & Co. rated Life Time’s stock as a buy, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing Life Time’s membership growth and the change in the company’s focus on operations. William Blair & Co. also is optimistic about Life Time’s stock.

“It feels like things are steadying,” William Blair analyst Sharon Zackfia told the newspaper. “Maybe not necessarily improving yet, but definitely steadying.”

Life Time opened the last of its three new clubs for the year in the second quarter (last month in Collierville, TN). The company, which currently has 84 clubs, plans to open three new clubs in 2010.

Akradi said during the call that he was changing his personal focus from the company’s growth in the number of clubs to internal operations, such as cutting costs and member retention.

“When we made the decision to slow down our growth, my time went from development and construction to the operational side,” said Akradi, adding that he is spending more time with the company’s marketing and sales teams.

Revenue for 2009 is still expected to be between $830 million and $860 million, although the company raised its net income expectations from $62 million-$68 million to $67 million-$71 million.

All in all, Life Time is executing its plan, Akradi said.

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience a consumer would want from a health club,” Akradi said. “We believe we are the best positioned company in the health club industry to do that. Although we have made good progress, we are not satisfied. And we can do better. We can become more efficient, and our pursuit of perfection is relentless.”