Gold's Gym International, Irving, TX, has acquired 17 of the 18 clubs in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC, areas operated by Fitness First, Frederick, MD, the company announced today. The deal, which was signed Wednesday night, is set to officially close sometime next week.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Club Industry has learned that the acquisition price is in the $30 million to $40 million range.

This is the second big acquisition by Gold's Gym in the past two years. The company acquired 11 San Antonio-area Spectrum Athletic Clubs in February 2012.

With the acquisition, Gold's now has nearly 50 gyms in the Washington, DC, area, making it the leading operator in one of the most densely populated areas in the country.

"We love the clubs because of the distribution in the DC area in relation to our current clubs," Gold's Gym CEO and President Jim Snow told Club Industry today. "There's just very little overlap, and they fill in the market nicely. It takes us to 50 clubs, both corporate and franchise, in that DC market, giving us a strong, clear competitive advantage, so this is a really nice acquisition from that perspective."

Fitness First will continue to own and operate one club in Bethesda, MD. That decision was based on how the lease was structured with that club's landlord.

Peter Harvey has operated PH Fitness Inc., which does business as Fitness First, since 1991.

"It's been a great 20-year ride," Harvey told Club Industry today. "I think it was a great opportunity for all sides. It was great for me, personally, and I think it's a great move for Gold's. I think the members are not going to see too much change and will have a lot more clubs to use."

The 17 Fitness First clubs will be rebranded under the Gold's Gym name over the next six months. All current Fitness First memberships will be honored, and Gold's Gym plans to introduce options that will allow former Fitness First members access to additional Gold's Gyms. For current Gold's Gym members, options also are in development that would grant access to former Fitness First clubs, which range from 16,000 to 23,000 square feet and had a price point of $29 per month.