Without much further ado, we now introduce the Club Industry's annual listing of the highest grossing health clubs and chains in the country. The number one spot on the list goes to 24 Hour Fitness, which may come as no surprise to our readers since this company was at the top of the list last year as well. The club chain posted a $34 million gain in revenue from 2004's list.

Following the mega-chain's lead was Town Sports International, which posted close to an $11 million gain, and Life Time Fitness, which upped its ante by $55 million in its first year as a public company.

But before you start applauding the stellar performances of the year, take note; there are some changes from 2004. Our second-ranked club from last year — Bally Total Fitness — is noticeably absent from this year's listing. We opted to leave Bally off the list because we could not accurately estimate the company's revenue since it has not filed financials for almost a year (and our requests to have the Top 100 form returned went unanswered). We dropped Sports Club Co. off the list for similar reasons (and upon the company's request not to be included).

As limited as it may seem, our publication has for years ranked the top 100 clubs in the country by corporate revenue. Financial information is the only feasible way to compile this list, which is unfortunate since many other factors — customer service, programming, design of a club, retention, penetration in the marketplace and many others — go into making a health or fitness facility a “top” club. Unfortunately, it would be almost impossible to quantify those factors without thousands of hours of investigation — something that few magazine staffs can spare.

As always, remember that this list serves as a benchmark, and not as a hard-and-fast ranking. Despite the editorial staff hounding clubs to submit nomination forms, participation is voluntary and, when necessary, estimates have been used. This year for our estimates, we used the median percentage increase in revenue (8 percent) of the clubs that reported their numbers to us in 2005. Clubs with estimated revenue have an asterisk by their names.

For the facilities that do submit their forms, we try to ensure accuracy; however, we ultimately depend upon the clubs' honesty to report accurate corporate revenue figures so that their placement is as precise as possible. We thank everyone for taking the time to complete a Top 100 nomination form.

Another word of caution: The list does not include franchises, such as Curves, Lady of America and the franchised locations for Gold's Gym (although revenue from Gold's corporate locations does rank it on the list). We hope to add a separate franchise list next year.

So, get some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show. Flip the page to pull back the curtain and see the listing of the Top 100 clubs in the United States.