If the fitness industry is looking for signs that business is turning around after more than two years of challenges, then 2022 offered some positives related to investments that private equity is making in the industry.

Almost every month at least one deal was announced either related to health clubs, studios or the vendor community. This recap offers just some of the acquisitions and investments made, but they show how 2022 went and what 2023 could hold for the industry.

The biggest acquisitions on the health club side involved Planet Fitness, Hampton, New Hampshire, and Anytime Fitness.

In January, Planet Fitness Inc. announced it was acquiring the 114 locations owned by Sunshine Fitness Growth Holdings LLC, which was its first franchisee in its system, in a cash and stock transaction valued at $800 million.

Sunshine Fitness had been backed by TSG Consumer Partners since 2017. The 114 clubs are in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, while Planet Fitness’ company-owned locations up to that point predominantly had been located in the Northeast.

Another large deal for Planet Fitness involved Excel Fitness Holdings LLC, Austin, Texas, which is one of the public company’s largest franchise groups with 90 clubs. Private equity firm Olympus Partners purchased Excel Fitness in April for an undisclosed amount. Excel operates more than 90 clubs in Austin; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Northwest Arkansas; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Virginia, some of the highest growth markets in the United States, according to Excel CEO CJ Bouchard.

Yet another Planet Fitness deal involved Planet Fitness franchise group Grand Fitness Partners, which in January acquired 13 Planet Fitness locations in Virginia for an undisclosed amount from Asbell Group. The locations, which are concentrated across Richmond-Petersburg, Roanoke, Charlottesville and the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, gave Grand Fitness Partners entry into a new state. Prior to the purchase, Grand Fitness, which previously was known as PF Atlantic Holdings, had 44 clubs in Florida, California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In August, private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners purchased Bandon Holdings, the largest Anytime Fitness franchisee with 213 Anytime Fitness clubs in 24 states, for an undisclosed sum.

Bandon, Austin, Texas, has traditionally focused on owning and operating clubs in small suburban and rural markets with limited fitness club options.

One of the busiest dealmakers in 2022 was Rodney Steven II, owner and CEO of Genesis Health Clubs, Wichita, Kansas. Genesis started 2022 with 57 clubs in six states, but during the year, the company made four acquisition deals adding six more locations to its brand and moving the brand into one new state. Financials details were not disclosed on any of the deals.

In May, Genesis Health Clubs made its first move into Florida with the acquisition of the Spanish Springs and Brownwood locations of MVP Athletic Clubs in The Villages, Florida. Included in the deal were exclusive rights to be the sole health club operator in The Villages.

Then in December, Genesis expanded further in Florida by purchasing Orlando-based RDV Sportsplex, which includes RDV Athletic Club, RDV Ice Den and onsite office spaces.

Also in December, Genesis acquired Clayview Country Club in Liberty, Missouri while in May, Genesis purchased two VASA locations in Wichita.

In April, VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa, San Rafael, California, acquired Axiom Fitness, a four-club fitness chain in Boise, Idaho. The acquisition price was not disclosed. Prior to the acquisition, VillaSport had seven clubs, and Joe Syufy, CEO of VillaSport, called the Axiom acquisition the start of an “aggressive growth plan” that will involve acquisitions and green field development in the greater Boise area and in its existing markets, which include Beaverton, Oregon; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Katy, Cypress and The Woodland, Texas; and San Jose and Roseville, California.

Just a month later in May, Todd Pulis and Faith Pulis sold The Thoreau Club, Concord, Massachusetts, to the Pinebrook Group, a real estate private equity firm owned and operated by JB Gough and Malachy Burke.

Keith Callahan, who served for six years as general manager and COO of The Thoreau Club, partnered with Pinebrook on the purchase of the club and the 33 acres on which it sits.

Also in May, Arch Amenities Group, Rockville, Maryland, acquired Synergy Fitness Group, a fitness management company with 26 facilities in the mid-Atlantic region. Arch Amenities is a provider of wellness, amenity and meeting services for commercial and residential properties, hotels and private clubs that was formed as a combination of WTS International and LifeStart, a corporate fitness and amenity management services provider for more than 100 corporate fitness centers that WTS International purchased.

In November, Chuze Fitness, San Diego, acquired the five locations of EP Fitness, El Paso, Texas, for an undisclosed sum, expanding the 30-club chain to Texas. Previously, its clubs have been located in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

In July, The Fitness Factory Health Club, Edgewater, New Jersey, acquired eight Club Metro Health Club facilities, renaming the clubs to Fitness Factory and expanding through franchising.

On the studio side, one of the biggest acquisitions occurred in October when MW Fitness Holdings LLC, the parent company of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, acquired KickHouse Fitness LLC for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition added KickHouse’s 26 locations to the 65 Mayweather Boxing + Fitness locations. The KickHouse locations retained their names.

A deal involving both a health club and studio occurred in October when New York Sports Club (NYSC), New York, acquired Fhittin Room, a boutique HIIT studio brand with two locations in New York City. No financial details were released. Plans are for Fhitting Room to continue to operate as standalone locations but to add studios inside select NYSC locations. NYSC previously was Town Sports International.

NYSC has 25 clubs in the New York City metro and six in regional New York, all operating as New York Sports Clubs along with three clubs in Switzerland operating under that name. It also has two clubs in Philadelphia operating as Philadelphia Sports Clubs, three in the District of Columbia and one in Maryland operating as Washington Sports Clubs, and 11 in Boston and the surrounding area operating as Boston Sports Clubs. It also owns three Lucille Roberts clubs in New York and one in New Jersey, plus three Around the Clock Fitness locations in Florida.

New investments and acquisitions occurred on the vendor side, too, in 2022.

One of the biggest acquisitions occurred in August and involved TRX Founder Randy Hetrick teaming with private equity investment firm JFXD Capital LLC to buy TRX out of bankruptcy for $8.4 million. TRX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2022 due to increased competition and macroeconomic challenges, the company said at the time.

Core Health & Fitness LLC, Vancouver, Washington, which manufactures brands StairMaster, Schwinn, Nautilus, Star Trac and Throwdown, made two acquisitions in 2022. In April, the company bought Wexer Holdings LLC. In June, Core Health bought Jacobs Ladder. The purchase price was not disclosed for either acquisition.

Several technology vendors also made acquisitions in 2022.

In February, Daxko acquired VFPnext for an undisclosed sum. VFPnext builds customer relationship management software that has built-in automated marketing and sales. Daxko owns Motionsoft, Club Automation and CSI Spectrum.

In August, ABC Fitness Solutions, Little Rock, Arkansas, completed its acquisition of fitness management platform Glofox, Dublin, Ireland. No purchase price was released. With the purchase, Glofox became a dedicated business unit servicing the boutique gym and studio sector within ABC Fitness.

In December, Motus Consumer Insights was acquired by Vi Labs, an enterprise artificial intelligence company for digital health. The purchase price was not disclosed. Motus Consumer Insights is a member acquisition analytics, site selection and marketing BI company.

In February fitness app and digital fitness platform FitOn acquired corporate wellness company Peerfit after raising $40 million in new funding.

In May, media company Outside Interactive sold IDEA Health & Fitness Association, San Diego, to Amy Boone Thompson. Thompson had been vice president and general manager of IDEA, but with the acquisition, she became CEO and full owner of IDEAfit, Inc. and its holding company In-Out Fitness Solutions Inc.

In addition to these acquisitions, several companies received investment dollars during the year. One of those companies was Myzone. In January, Myzone received a $17.2 million investment from BGF, a UK active growth capital investor as well as an investment from tech entrepreneur Vin Murria. Murria, who was awarded The Order of the British Empire for services to the British digital economy and for advancing women in the software sector, also joined Myzone as non-executive chair.

A few months later in May, iFIT Health & Fitness, Logan, Utah, raised $355 million in capital as a mix of debt and equity from private equity firm L Catterton. The company includes brands Freemotion, NordicTrack, ProForm, Weider and 29029. However, that announcement was coupled with the news that the company had settled a lawsuit with an investor, installed new leadership and laid off an undisclosed number of staff members.

In September, Therabody, Los Angeles, closed a growth equity round with $165 million in total financial backing, led by private equity firm North Castle Partners, LLC and existing investors such as Kevin Hart’s HartBeat Ventures LLC and Aaron Rodgers’ Rx3 Ventures.

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

Author

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