The Growing Popularity of Fitness Tenants in Shopping Centers

Health and wellness are not just trends, they are a way of life for most people today, especially millennials who are highly influenced by how they appear in photos and social media. With society’s growing emphasis on healthy living and self-care, more people are getting themselves to the gym to exercise so that they look and feel their best. In fact, according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association, the number of health club members grew by 33.6 percent from 2008 to 2017. People are more health-conscious than ever before, making fitness tenants large and small a staple at every community shopping center.

The rise in popularity of fitness tenants at shopping centers

An increasing number of fitness tenants are popping up at shopping centers as consumers value having everything in one place. As a result, there are fewer freestanding gyms and stand-alone fitness studios. Rather, fitness tenants are moving into shopping centers alongside grocery, office, medical, fast-casual restaurants, and other traditional and non-traditional retail tenants to capitalize on the existing customer base and foot traffic.

Before or after working out, people are more likely to grab a quick bite to eat, shop for groceries, or pick up their dry cleaning from a neighboring business. Overall, the addition of a fitness tenant is a smart move for brokers and landlords when leasing a shopping center.

A closer look at the different types of fitness tenants

The types of fitness tenants you’ll see at shopping centers are expanding to meet individual tastes and demographic demands. From spin studios and barre concepts to more upscale lifestyle centers with varied amenities such as spas and food options, there’s something for everyone. The rise of boutique fitness concepts such as SoulCycle, Orangetheory Fitness, and Pure Barre all provide a more personalized workout experience with a small class that is led by a certified instructor. On the other hand, large health clubs are still popular as they are all-encompassing and provide personal training, classes, standard workout equipment, and sometimes more–for example pools and co-working spaces–all under one roof. The EDGE Fitness Clubs and Life Time Athletic are great examples of two large-scale fitness businesses with different price points, styles, and offerings that are seeing a lot of success in the market right now.

At Metro Commercial, we recently brokered six leases for The EDGE Fitness Clubs in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Michigan. The EDGE Fitness Clubs was named “best budget gym chain” by Philadelphia Magazine due to its membership affordability and included perks and amenities. Metro also represents Orangetheory Fitness in the Greater Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, and Central regions of Pennsylvania. Orangetheory provides a science-based, technology tracked, coach-inspired group workout. Ultimately, determining what type of fitness is going to fit best in your shopping center is dependent upon the type of retail center, the size of the space, and the target demographic you’re trying to reach.

Scouting out the perfect location and retail mix for fitness tenants

Location is an important factor to consider when finding a location for a fitness tenant. First and foremost, brokers need to look at densely populated areas with strong incomes, and shopping centers with ample parking and easy access. Due to lease restrictions, some shopping centers and their big-box national tenants may not want fitness businesses due to the risk of losing parking and noise concerns. Because of this, brokers must carefully review any restrictive language when negotiating a lease for a fitness tenant.

In regard to co-tenancy, fitness tenants pair best with grocery, dry cleaners, physical therapy or similar medical offerings, and fast-casual restaurants. When adding a fitness tenant, envision the gym’s customers getting a bite to eat after a workout or grabbing a few groceries before heading home. Uses that fulfill daily errands are the best complements for fitness tenants and their customers at shopping centers.

What’s on the horizon for fitness tenants?

Looking towards the future, fitness tenants will continue to thrive, however, saturation in some markets is possible. It’s a race for fitness businesses to get the best locations and provide memorable experiences for their customers at the best value. Soon there will be an influx of fitness offerings, which are already competing with popular at-home workout alternatives such as Peloton, leaving weaker fitness concepts to fade. Those that deliver effective results are going to be the ones that survive.

The current fitness boom is an indication of a healthier, fitness-minded society. People are taking advantage of the opportunity to try out new workout techniques to find what works best for them in order to maintain a healthy body. Fitness centers also provide a place to meet and socialize with like-minded people, creating a community of their own. These factors and more make fitness tenants a strong addition to any shopping center.

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