Anytime Fitness, Woodbury, Minnesota, will become the first health club company in the world to operate facilities on all seven continents when its new Antarctica club opens in fall 2019.
Anytime first confirmed the project in March 2018 and has since partnered with Chilean-based tourism agency Antarctica21 to open a seasonal club aboard one of the agency's cruise ships, the Magellan Explorer. The 300-foot ship will be in service during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months (November through March), during which guests will have access the Anytime facility.
“Initially, when Anytime approached us, they just wanted to pick our brains and get some insights about the logistics and challenges of building a gym on the continent," Francesco Contini, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Antarctica21, told Observer. "It was certainly a bold idea, but we’ve been operating in the Antarctic tourism business for a decade and a half, and we knew that actually setting up a physical structure on the continent would be a very complex—if not impossible. … However, when they made that initial call to us, we happened to be in the early stages of planning the buildout of our new state-of-the-art expedition cruise ship … and it wasn’t long before we decided that there was a nice synergy between what Anytime Fitness was trying to do and our commitment to providing best-in-class facilities and services for our intrepid polar explorers."
The ship will be based off King George Island, largest of the South Shetland Islands, located approximately 75 miles from mainland Antarctica in the Southern Ocean.
Antartcita21 flies travelers from South America to a Chilean airstrip on King George Island, where they then board one of the agency’s ships.
“We really fervently believe in our company’s ethos of ‘fitness any way you want it, any time you want it and anywhere you want it,’ and being able to hoist the Anytime ‘Running Man’ flag on Antarctica was another way to show to our franchisees across the globe, as well as their customers, that we are deeply committed to providing fitness options anywhere they go,” Anytime CEO Chuck Runyon told the Observer.
Runyon also said the company is currently considering concepts for an enclosed, ocean-floor club as well as a club in outer space via a partnership with a private rocket operator.
Anytime recently ranked No. 20 on Entrepreneur’s 2019 Franchise 500 list.