Fitness Industry Roundup: From Mall to Workout Village

    Malls find new stride with health and fitness businesses. And some top industry companies announce big changes.

    TRX has a new president and Crunch Fitness gets acquired. IHRSA announces two scholarship recipients for this year’s Institute and helped host a successful event in Tokyo.

    It’s All at the Mall

    Not only are gyms breathing new life into malls by replacing empty Sears or J.C. Penneys, they’re also creating a destination in the form of “fitness clusters,” according to The New York Times. At many upscale malls, boutique studios are opening up right next to each other alongside other wellness brands. For example, at Rye Ridge shopping center in Rye Brook, NY, a visitor can attend a hot yoga class, do a HIIT treadmill workout, and hit the sauna. Experts say the trend seems to be similar to the “restaurant effect,” which is when a group of restaurants cluster near each other to become a hot spot for foodies looking for options. The studios are part of the “experiential economy” and attract a certain cohort. “Boutique fitness is a lifestyle habit for millennials who like self-care and have a solid disposable income,” said John Klein, real estate executive for Equinox. And despite being Peloton’s and Mirror’s premium target, millennials keep coming back to group fitness classes. “Peloton is trying to sell community via technology but it does not have the same energy of the group experience,” Klein said. “There is no one to go out for coffee with after.”

    Read about the new crop of workout villages.

    In-Shape CEO Talks Diversity with Bloomberg

    Francesca Schuler, In-Shape Health Clubs CEO and 2019 IHRSA Women’s Leadership Award winner, spoke to Bloomberg's Scarlet Fu on "Bloomberg Markets: The Close” on July 22. In the interview, Schuler explained how In-Shape’s staff and communications strategy is focused on breaking down barriers to get people of all abilities into the club. “The goal of fitness is really about confidence,” she said. “We all come in different shapes and sizes. Some of us could try as hard as we wanted and we couldn’t get down to 12% body fat…that doesn’t mean you can’t be fit and healthy and feel good about yourself. It’s really important to not just put that beautiful image out there because that discourages people from getting off the couch…they opt out before they even try it.”

    Learn more about how Schuler is shaking up fitness industry stereotypes.

    Record-setting Crowds at Sportec 2019 in Tokyo

    A record number of Japanese health club operators and exhibitors gathered in Tokyo July 9-11 for Sportec / IHRSA Management Seminars. Organizers say the event, which showcases nutrition, equipment, programming, construction, and other services, was the largest fitness industry trade show in Asia. This year’s leading professional experts from IHRSA were Active Wellness President & CEO Bill McBride, IHRSA Ambassador to Russia Leila Timergaleeva, and Face2Face Retention Systems CEO Paul Brown. “IHRSA also shared an excellent dinner with our partners in Japan—the Fitness Industry Association of Japan, Club Business Japan, and Sportec—sharing ideas for growth and continued successful cooperation,” says Director of IHRSA Asia-Pacific John Holsinger. Since 2016, IHRSA has partnered with Sportec Japan to present industry management education in concert with IHRSA’s strategic partner, the Fitness Industry Association of Japan.

    Keep up with IHRSA events.

    New President Named at TRX

    John Hutchison took on the role as president of TRX in June, according to a company press release. Hutchinson brings in experience from top roles at Nike, The North Face, General Electric, and The Boston Consulting Group. He received his masters of business from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Hutchinson will be asked with overseeing the development and execution of a major global growth plan and will have direct oversight of all revenue channels, marketing, product, training, and education. “We are thrilled to have John join the TRX family as part of the executive leadership team,” said TRX Co-Chairman and Founder Randy Hetrick. “He has a proven track record within the industry, has demonstrated an ability to drive growth and profitability, and comes with a deep knowledge on how to best implement innovative strategic marketing and consumer experiences that will greatly contribute to the success and growth of our business.”

    Read about the new appointment.

    TPG Partners Acquires Crunch Fitness

    Industry News Crunch Fitness Moorestown Nj Column

    Crunch Fitness, a health and fitness company with over 300 fitness centers serving 1.3 million members worldwide, was acquired by TPG Growth, an asset firm, the company announced July 1. “With the support of our new partners at TPG, we’re well-positioned to accelerate this offering. We look forward to working together to enhance our capabilities and expand Crunch’s footprint across the globe,” said Jim Rowley, CEO of Crunch. The investment builds on the TPG consumer team’s strategy of investing in companies that are creating elevated experiences that cater to the unique interests of consumers, according to the press release. The deal includes Crunch’s “Signature” facilities and its global franchising business. TPG has also partnered with Life Time, Beautycounter, Mendocino Farms, and Philz Coffee.

    Learn about this new acquisition.

    Two Receive Scholarships for 2019 IHRSA Institute

    Maureen Eggers of Washington Athletic Club in Seattle, WA, and Jason Stokes of Sportsplex-New Windsor in New Windsor, NY, are the recipients of The 2019 IHRSA Institute scholarships. Eggers, a health and fitness manager, was awarded the The John McCarthy Scholarship. Stokes, the general manager and managing partner, is the recipient of The Curt & Jane Beusman Scholarship. Each scholarship is valued at more than $3,000 and includes full registration to the event, as well as lodging, meals, and a travel stipend. The Institute will take place this year from August 6-9 at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. These two exceptional fitness industry standouts have earned these awards for playing key roles at their clubs, and were picked by a panel of industry experts. Eggers helped in the planning, design, and operation of WAC’s first off-site corporate fitness space, as well as the brand new women-only strength training studio. Stokes oversaw a surge in memberships, something he attributes to his hands-on approach, a focus on customer service, and a commitment to hiring a management team that fit the vision and culture he and his business partner developed.

    Industry News 19In Scholarship Recipients Column

    Maureen Eggers, left, and Jason Stokes

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    Rachel Valerio

    Rachel Valerio previously served as IHRSA's Digital Content Editor—a position focused on collecting and reporting on fitness industry news, staying on top of IHRSA's social media accounts and website, and hatching new plans to expand the association's digital footprint.