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New Shopping Center Mix: Live, Work Out, Play

Fitness concepts of all shapes and sizes are exploding in the United States as baby boomers and millennials alike flex their muscles. Why is “Boutique Fitness” the new craze? And is it recession-proof?

Photo Courtesy of CoStar.

Landlords are jumping in to reconfigure abandoned stores or create new spaces to fill the demand for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Real estate services firm JLL calls it the “golden era of wellness”. The wellness economy is booming right now,” said James Cook, director of U.S. research at JLL.

Call it the "live, work out and play" model that CoStar economists say is a key element of refashioning shopping centers and malls nationwide.

Plop a fitness concept somewhere close to where people live and are fulfilling their daily needs — the most obvious of which is food-related — and they will come.

47% of consumers are motivated to multitask in one outing when it comes to exercise and shopping.

Fitness move-ins at shopping malls are growing at a threefold pace, while specialized, typically outdoor, lifestyle centers are seeing a near-quadruple jump.

Traditional gyms, with free weights and ropes to elliptical machines and treadmills to punching bags and balance balls, are still popular. Last year, they accounted for nearly 34% of all fitness move-ins.

Boutique fitness concepts with specialized offerings in small classroom settings such as ClubPilates, SoulCycle and Pure Barre, which offers an exercise regimen based on ballet moves, have leaped to the fore.

In 2018 these niche concepts are growing on average “six times faster than traditional gyms.

Boutique fitness is not only popping up everywhere, but it’s getting a lot of investor attention, particularly when tied to celebrities and athletes.

TruFusion, which offers yoga, Pilates, cycling, barre, boxing, boot camp and circuit training, has famous investors including former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriquez, whose fame is drawing star power to the facilities, including his fiancée, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Planet Fitness, Crunch and YouFit are expanding rapidly too. Planet Fitness has added more than 600 locations in the past five years and is on track to open another 250 within the next year.

Planet Fitness’ $10 monthly membership fee promotes it to recession-proof status. Budget gyms appear to have more longevity, since membership rates as low as $10 per month should keep loyalty up.

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