Health club boom in Sonoma County



In the United States, the fitness club industry is experiencing huge activity as multi-billion dollar buyouts, public offerings and investments are rapidly changing the $ 26 billion industry.

And the economic recovery from the recession has created new momentum.

The ramifications are playing out locally where, according to Infogroup USA, a marketing company and business data provider, 141 such facilities and related businesses have been registered in Sonoma County in the past year. They range from Spartan chains like Curves and CrossFit to more posh spots like the Montecito Heights Health Club, which has a pool, tennis courts, and even a spa.

The whirlwind of activity can be seen at the Orangetheory Fitness studio at Coddingtown Mall which opened in April. Clients perform intensive interval strength and cardiovascular training for 60 minutes, as they are connected to a monitor that accurately measures their heart rate and calorie expenditure. Two other locations are already planned for Rohnert Park and Petaluma.

St. Joseph Health acquired Active Sports Clubs Petaluma in January as part of its goal of providing more fitness and wellness services.

And, Anytime Fitness is opening a facility this week at the new Epicenter complex in northwest Santa Rosa. Owner Brett Livingstone said he hopes his 9,800 square foot facility can capitalize on the foot traffic of about 950,000 annual visitors who will pass through the sports and entertainment complex, which includes three indoor soccer fields.

“It’s an incredibly competitive area,” said Livingstone of the Santa Rosa Market. Livingstone, which owns four other Anytime franchises in Larkfield, Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Berkeley, noted that some big-box fitness chains have struggled to find a niche around Santa Rosa. Its investment at the Epicenter site will be approximately $ 850,000.

“Petaluma, I think, is a bit more competitive,” he said. “Competition breeds a certain excellence. Location is important, certainly. You have to function properly and you have to deliver what people want.

The industry saw a slight uptick in the aftermath of the recession, as about 19% of all Americans belong to some sort of establishment, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, the industry’s leading trade group. Likewise, the number of fitness clubs has increased by 17% nationally since 2011. It stood at 36,180 clubs in 2015.

But the challenge for owners is the high attrition rate, a major concern in maintaining a sustainable business. The IHRSA said the average club length for members is around five years; about 24 percent retain their membership for one year or less, and 51 percent have been members for only two to five years.

“We spend a lot of time and energy on our sales,” said Livingstone, noting that its attrition rate on an annual basis is 35%, while the industry as a whole is almost 50%.

Money from private equity, new franchisees and publicly traded companies has calmed the industry somewhat, especially now, as much of the growth comes from outside the United States, Jill Kinney said. , president of Active Wellness LLC, which manages the Petaluma Health Club. that St. Joseph Health purchased earlier this year.

“The industry is really maturing,” Kinney said.

She’s a longtime veteran who remembers attending industry conferences little in the 1980s. Kinney now sees a general trend away from hardcore fitness activities towards wellness programs that promote a healthy lifestyle, which have a natural synergy with hospitals and medical centers. These activities can range from weight management programs to aquatic classes for the elderly to rehabilitation programs for those coming off physical therapy.

The new wellness goal aims to reach the remaining 70 to 80 percent of the population who do not belong to a health club. The Petaluma Club has seen its membership increase by 400 people in recent months through enhancements and additional programs and has approximately 6,000 members. Adult subscriptions cost around $ 90 per month when Petaluma is installed.

“A lot of times they (the customers) feel like they’re not ready for this level of activity,” Kinney said. “There is a lot of intimidation.

St. Joseph Health has also taken the initiative to work with employers to help promote the well-being of their workers, which represents another growth opportunity as companies are financially motivated to keep their employees healthy. .

In Newport Beach, he partnered with Irvine Co. on a 17,000 square foot facility that includes a doctor’s office, fitness center and studio boutique. At Petaluma, he works with 40 companies that have affiliations, Kinney said.



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