An explanation of how we compile the Top 100--from gathering data to inviting industry experts to verify our figures.

Once again, Club Industry proudly presents our annual Top 100. Using self-reported figures, we rank the largest clubs and club chains in the country by their 1999 revenue.

As in past years, we present the Top 100 as a benchmark, not as an irrefutable ranking of health clubs. The figures contained in the Top 100 come directly from clubs willing to participate. Since most health clubs are not publicly held, we cannot guarantee the factuality of the data they supplied. However, Rick Caro, chairman of Spectrum Clubs International, reviewed the Top 100 for any glaring discrepancies or omissions, and we acted on his feedback. For that reason, we feel that this listing gives a reasonable indication of the largest players in the health and fitness marketplace. In fact, we are confident that this is the best Top 100 listing ever published in Club Industry.

While the Top 100 lists in previous years contained some revenue based on estimations, all of the information this year comes directly from the clubs. Also, Club Industry's editors worked to secure the cooperation of club operators who, in the past, asked not to be included in the Top 100 listings.

Still, we recognize that many top players are missing from the list. Participation is optional, and some club operators whom we contacted chose not to submit information. In more than one case, they told Club Industry that they wanted to keep a low profile because they were afraid of drawing the attention of growing club consolidators. (It's an honest response-with one flaw. If your club is successful, chances are the club consolidators already have an idea how much you are making.)

Many of the clubs that don't appear on this year's list have been absent in past years as well. Equinox, Chelsea Piers, Good Life Fitness Clubs, American Club Systems, Pro Sports Club, Wheaton Sports Center, Spare Time, Cascade Athletic Clubs, Dolphin Fitness Centers and Courthouse Athletic Club all deserve places on the Top 100, but they have consistently decided to keep their sales figures private.

Similarly, some clubs listed in 1999 opted against participation in 2000. However, since they estimated their 1999 revenue when they took part last year, we can deduce where they would have ranked this year. Women's Workout World, which ranked 38 last year with 1998 revenue of $14.5 million, would have ranked approximately 35 this year with an estimated $15.2 million. The YMCA Metro Mobile, which ranked 77 last year with 1998 revenue of $6 million, would have ranked approximately 75 this year with an estimated $6.5 million. And the YMCA of Madison, N.J., which ranked 80 last year with 1998 revenue of $5.7 million, would have ranked approximately 77 this year with an estimated $6 million.

A few other companies missing this year owe their absence to acquisition. Q Clubs, Sportslife, the Sports Club of Canada, Racquetball & Fitness Clubs of San Antonio, and Frog's, An Athletic Club all ranked among the Top 100 in the past, but they are now owned by other members of the Top 100. To find out where these acquired companies might have ranked this year if they had remained independent, refer to the chart Gone, But Not Forgotten on page 54.

Finally, you may notice that the industry's leading franchisors/licensors are missing from the Top 100. Listing franchisors/licensors has always proved problematic. Since we rank clubs by corporate revenue, we ask franchisors/licensors to supply the revenue of corporately owned clubs and/or francishing/licensing fees only. However, when these figures are added up, total corporate revenue for franchisors/licensors is not always high. Some franchisors/licensors feel this reflects poorly on their businesses, so they choose not to participate. Other franchisors/licensors include the sales revenue of individually owned franchised/licensed sites, which is not part of their total corporate revenue. As a result, these franchisors/licensors seem bigger than they actually are, throwing off the rest of the rankings for the Top 100.

In the interest of fairness, this year we listed franchisors/licensors separately on page 52, reporting their total number of franchises/licenses and owned clubs, as well as the total number of states and countries in which they operate. Although we don't include corporate revenue, we believe that the information provided gives a good indication where these franchisors/licensors belong on the Top 100.

Since we are always looking for ways to improve the Top 100, please send your feedback. After going through the Top 100, contact us at Club Industry Top 100, 1300 Virginia Drive, Suite 400, Fort Washington, PA 19034; fax: (215) 643-4827; e-mail: jerry_janda@intertec.com. If your club/ chain should have appeared on the list, please let us know so that we can contact you when we begin compiling next year's list.