CHANHASSEN, MN -- Life Time Fitness reported 22.8 percent revenue growth in the fourth quarter of last year and 28.1 percent revenue growth for the year, according to a statement from the company released today. Fourth quarter 2007 revenue was $171.1 million, up from $139.3 million during the same period in 2006. Revenue for the year was $655.8 million, up from $511.9 million in 2006. Memberships grew 12.5 percent in 2007 to 499,092.

That growth will continue this year despite concerns about a downturn in the economy, Bahram Akradi, chairman and CEO of Life Time Fitness, predicted during a conference call with analysts today.

“The economy will go through ups and downs,” he said in the call. “The growth rate we have demonstrated in the last year and so far in January and February are nothing to be embarrassed about. I love it. I love a tough economy. We can’t distance ourselves as much when we are going with the headwind at our back. This is going to provide us with tremendous opportunity.”

He said that one of the biggest opportunities would be in real estate. Many developers are coming to Life Time to ask the company to be one of the anchors in their retail development plans.

He also said that many operators are operating in single digit margins, and he predicted that those operators would fall apart, meaning their members would then come to Life Time.

“We are in a fantastic position to take advantage of what is going to happen in the next couple of years,” Akradi said. “It’s an exciting time. This is when the best companies shine.”

Net income for Life Time during the quarter grew 35 percent to $19.1 million compared to net income of $14.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2006. For the full year, net income grew 34.5 percent to $68 million from $50.6 million for 2006.

The company is adapting to the challenging business environment by enhancing the member experience and optimizing membership levels at its clubs while implementing ongoing operational and product improvements, Akradi said.

He extended the company’s planned openings for this year to 11, including expansion into higher income demographic areas and three new states.

“With our steadfast focus on member service and experience, we also will continue to invest in our existing centers, amenities and services, nutritional products and expanded corporate wellness programs, and our rigorous employee training and certification initiatives,” he said.

Michael Robinson, executive vice president and CFO, said in the call that the company continued to have strong performance in its personal training business, and he expected to continue that growth since less than 10 percent of the membership base is involved in personal training.

“We continue to grow the team-based aspect of that,” he said, adding that the company had also increased heart rate monitor sales. In addition, he said that the company’s café business had also grown after adding new items to the menu.

Last year, the company moved its corporate employees from three buildings into one headquarters, located in Chanhassen, MN.