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Chains Continue to Grow Despite Economy

OVERLAND PARK, KS — The economy may have not rebounded completely — some would say at all — but that hasn't slowed the expansion plans of some of the industry's larger chains nationally and internationally. While there are more club openings than we can highlight here a look at some recent ones shows the industry continuing at a pre-bust pace.

Life Time Fitness Sports, health and fitness facility in Old Orchard (Skokie), IL opened its doors earlier this month. The 110,000-plus-square-foot center offers 24-hour access to more than 400 pieces of cardio, resistance and free weight training equipment, two aerobics studios, dry/steam saunas, three rock climbing walls, full-size basketball and volleyball courts and tanning facilities. Furthermore, the facility provides an indoor and outdoor aquatics center complete with two-story water slides, children's play areas, large lap pool, whirlpools and a full-service outdoor bistro.

Meanwhile, in July, Bally Total Fitness opened a 20,000-square-foot building in Stratford Square in Stratford, CT. The lease for the facility is valued at more than $2.5 million, according to Kramont Realty, a neighborhood and community shopping center real estate investment trust familiar with the deal.

“The new Bally Fitness Center occupies the site of a former theater, and the Entertainment Cinemas Multiplex replaced a Pathmark supermarket when the retailer decided to leave the Connecticut market,” Louis P. Meshon, Sr., president and chief executive officer of Kramont explained. “Kramont's in-house capabilities help us respond rapidly and effectively to the needs of tenants while maintaining shopping environments for consumers.”

But it isn't just the “big boys” that are continuing to grow. Small- to medium-sized chains continue their expansion as well as more people look to improve their health and fitness.

San Antonio-based health club chain, The Fitness Connection, is expanding its presence into parts of town that have not been viewed as attractive areas for health clubs, according to the San Antonio Business Journal.

The company recently closed on its purchase of a 55,874-square-foot facility, which was formerly the property of the H.E. Butt Grocery Co. The report stated that on the heels of that purchase, Fitness Connection signed a multiyear lease to take 35,000 square feet at the former HQ building.

Managing Partner Phil Howard told Club Industry magazine he expects to have both facilities open by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the Wichita Business Journal reported that as part of a major expansion effort, Genesis Health Clubs is embarking on a $3 million expansion of its Rock Road facility and buying out a local Gold's Gym.

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