Working out in the early hours

Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:24am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Night owls, insomniacs, shift workers and other denizens of the dark are finding less need to fit their workout time into the nine-to-five world.

More gyms are remaining open round the clock, experts say, spurred by advances in surveillance and security technology, clients' ever more fluid work habits and a generation of multi-tasking consumers.

"A lot of people work untraditional times and they take advantage of clubs open at all hours," said Carl Liebert, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, an international chain of health clubs, most of them open around the clock.

Liebert said his 30-year-old chain has seen an increase in after-hours traffic, with five to 15 percent of clients, depending on location, working out between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

"I think people have changed," he said. "They're online; they're connected day and night. When I grew up I went to bed at night and got up in the morning. Between those times I wasn't multitasking."

Liebert said common night visitors include people who work out to relieve stress, insomniacs, and hard-core fitness fanatics who wouldn't miss a workout and prefer a gym less crowded.

The number of health clubs open 24 hours has soared from just couple hundred five years ago to more than 2,000 today, according to IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a trade association of fitness facilities.

Spokesperson Meredith Poppler said while most club goers still work out during regular hours, technology has enabled small, often rural, clubs to operate overnight, and sometimes unstaffed.   Continued...

Performance specialist David Delgado, 27, demonstrates a rope exercise in the company gym which is open 24 hours a day at the Google campus near Venice Beach, in Los Angeles, California January 13, 2012. The 100,000 square-foot campus was designed by architect Frank Gehry, and includes an entrance through an iconic pair of giant binoculars designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Around 500 employees develop video advertising for YouTube, parts of the Google+ social network and the Chrome Web browser at the site. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson