Leading health club provider Anytime Fitness sets sights on 20+ new club openings this year as global real estate advisor CBRE says gyms are proving increasingly popular with landlords of sought-after premises than pre-COVID
Gyms and health clubs are set to benefit from the reinvigoration of the property market post-pandemic, with leading health club provider Anytime Fitness aiming to open more than 20 new clubs in 2022.
The UK’s largest fitness franchise is enjoying the change in perception of the health and fitness industry among landlords and property agents, with many of these openings to be in sought-after city centre locations which previously wouldn’t have been obtainable due to unsustainable rents.
This is a view shared by global real estate advisor, CBRE, who are seeing landlords engaging with the health and fitness sector more collaboratively and seeing their potential as commercial tenants. Gyms are now seen as valuable additions to attractive retail mix ambitions of landlords. Despite gyms being closed for the first three-and-a-half months of 2021 and significant supply chain delays, Anytime Fitness opened 16 new clubs throughout the year and is set to surpass the 200-club landmark this year.
“Having worked in the health and fitness industry for over 15 years, we’ve never been in a better place to access the property market,” said Ben Dixon, Chief Development Officer at Anytime Fitness UK. “It’s fair to say that we’ve often been an afterthought when it comes to property and the likes of retail and hospitality have traditionally been the preference as commercial tenants. However, we’re now in a position to open health clubs in properties that were previously beyond our wildest dreams, and we’re well placed to take advantage of that.
“Our growth last year and ongoing performance has shown that health clubs are an attractive investment opportunity and we’re looking forward to playing an important role in revitalising high streets across the UK and Ireland.”
CBRE puts the health and fitness sector’s increased potential down to several factors, including the repositioning of retail assets as a result of the pandemic and in turn, landlords reassessing their options. For many, combining commercial returns and wellbeing is now seen as a winning combination.
“Rental values on strong-performing high streets and retail parks have traditionally restrained gyms from being able to trade there; higher rents, when combined with other property costs, were unsustainable,” said Adam Caplan, Director at CBRE. “The pandemic has created a situation where rents have been rebased to be more affordable in many areas, making it more viable for gyms to operate there.
“Add that to the sustained demand for health club memberships and the sector’s ability to be a consistent footfall driver and you can see why gyms and health clubs are seen as a long-term, viable occupier. Some of the openings in the pipeline from Anytime Fitness really are testament to this – of which you perhaps wouldn’t have seen pre-COVID.”
As well as city centre sites, Anytime Fitness is set to enjoy growth in a broad range of locations, including within business parks and shopping centres. As they look to rebuild after the past two years, shopping centres are looking to innovate to maintain footfall and increase dwell time within their locations, with wellness hubs comprising gyms and massage offerings an increasingly popular option.
“Another benefit for us is the growing importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria for landlords,” added Ben. “Taking business parks as an example; their tenants are transitioning employees back to offices and want to support their employees’ wellbeing. Having an on-site health club fits very much into that 21st century business community and we can play a key role in not only supporting landlords to retain their tenants but helping their employees to become healthier.”