Bally Total Fitness Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Bally Total Fitness Holding, one of the largest U.S. health club operators, has filed for bankruptcy protection, after struggling in recent years with membership declines and too much debt.

The Chicago-based company and more than 40 affiliates filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors Tuesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Bally listed $396.8 million of assets and $761.3 million of debts as of Dec. 31, court papers show. The company had said on May 31 that it intended to file for bankruptcy protection.

Bally has struggled in recent years to attract new members, and in March said it expected continued membership declines through at least 2008.

On Friday, the company said it had received sufficient votes from creditors in favor of a reorganization. It has said the reorganization process would not affect health club operations and memberships.