Hospital partnership will bring a 72,000-square-foot club to downtown Chicago.

CHICAGO - Fitness Formula (a developer, manager and general partner of multipurpose clubs in the Chicago area) has gotten itself a prime piece of real estate and an impressive partnership. Working with Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Fitness Formula will open the Union Station Multiplex in downtown Chicago this December.

Gale Landers, president and CEO of Fitness Formula, said that the new location is in the very heart of Chicago's business district, adding that more than 100,000 business commuters will come up underneath the club every day. Not that the Union Station Multiplex plans to serve them all. The club will cap at 5,500 members, charging approximately $100 a month for a membership.

A $13 million, 72,000-square-foot facility, the Union Station Multiplex will offer a wide variety of exercise options, plus the usual amenities one would expect in a multipurpose club. In addition, for the convenience of commuters, the Union Station Multiplex will feature concierge and business services, including laundry, shoe shine, valet parking, conference rooms and data ports.

Members can also expect medical services on the premises - not surprising, considering Rush-Presbyterian's involvement in the project. "We had a strong history of medical affiliates, and with this particular one we decided to bring them in as a limited partner on a equity basis," said Launders, who described Rush as "Chicago's largest hospital."

Cardiac rehab, physical therapy and certain types of non-primary care (e.g., massage, acupuncture, etc.) are some of the services Rush will deliver. And since Rush's campus is only a mile from the club, the hospital can refer people to its physicians for specialty services. Furthermore, thanks to its strategic location, the club gives Rush something extra to offer to its 10,000-plus employees and students.

Union Station Multiplex is also in a strategic location for Fitness Formula. Landers explained that his company believes in the power of a hub and spoke network: central clubs surrounded by supporting clubs. Union Station Multiplex brings the total number of Fitness Formula clubs up to eight (four in the Chicago suburbs, four in the city), and it will become the center hub of the network. Members can join one or all of the Fitness Formula clubs, so the Union Station Multiplex's commuter-rich location will give even more people the option of exercising near work or near their homes.

- Plenty of news from Bally Total Fitness.

First, Bally reported its financial results for the second quarter of 2000, with diluted earnings per share up more than 70 percent to $.58. Operating income for the quarter of $31.7 million was up 50 percent over the prior year. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew to $47.3 million, a 40 percent improvement.

In other news, Bally entered into a multi-year agreement with the University of Chicago Hospitals, which will operate a sports therapy clinic in the new Bally Sports Club in the Hyde Park/Kenwood area of Chicago. The clinic will specialize in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Finally, Bally has made a co-marketing agreement with Eastman Kodak Co. to promote Kodak's new Advantix Access one-time-use flash camera. Specifically, Kodak has become the exclusive sponsor of Bally's Spinning program; through this sponsorship, Kodak receives in-club signage, distribution of product information and radio advertising via Bally's in-club radio network, as well as sales of the one-time-use cameras through Bally's more than 300 in-club retail stores.

- 24 Hour Fitness has named YogaFit Training Systems Worldwide as the official yoga trainer for its locations. The teacher trainings began this month and are open to 24 Hour Fitness staff and instructors.

- WOW! Work Out World has opened its fifth, full fitness facility at the intersection of Route 35 South and New Monmouth Road in Middletown, N.J. This 25,000-square-foot facility offers group fitness classes, strength equipment, free weights, racquetball, personal training, nutrition programs, juice bar and chiropractive services.

- The South Point Club has opened in Orland Park, Ill. The 186,000-square-foot facility is one of the largest health and sports centers in the Chicago area.

The sports available at the club include tennis, basketball, volleyball and soccer. Furthermore, the club offers an aquatic center, a juice bar, nursery, wellness center, group exercise, and strength and cardio equipment. The facility also houses medical professionals and a beauty salon.