Past Issues

The business of fitness and wellness.

Record Setting Revenues


With a growing number of companies hoping to become the Peloton of ‘X’ or the Netflix of fitness, the global digital fitness market is expected to reach $27B by 2022. At the same time, demand for and spending on in-person workouts continues to grow. While headlines point to the end of the gym as we know it, high-end studios and budget clubs are expanding at record pace. In an effort to keep tabs on the global markets and track industry leaders, here’s a rundown of recent developments. 

In 2018, US health club industry revenue reached $32.3B, a 7.8% increase from 2017, according to IHRSA. Over the same period, total health club membership grew to 62M, with membership to a boutique studio increasing 121% over the past five years, compared to 18% for commercial fitness facilities and 15% for all fitness facilities.

In the UK, research from LeisureDB reported a total market of 10M gym members as the industry grew to £5B ($6.3B USD) for the 12 months ending March 2019. Meanwhile, the European market—including Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine—reached 60M members and €26.6B ($29.4B USD) in value for 2018. And in the Asia-Pacific, 22M members across 14 regional markets accounted for $16.8B in total revenue.

In all, IHRSA reported that the global health club industry revenue totaled $94B in 2018, as more than 210K clubs served 183M members. This continued growth helps explain (and justify) the aggressive expansion plans being undertaken by budget gyms and boutique studios alike. 

As we detailed back in Issue No. 22, Xponential Fitness hopes that each of its eights concepts, including Club Pilates, CycleBar, StretchLab, Row House, AKT, YogaSix, Stride, and Pure Barre, will reach 900 locations each over the next five years. Next up, the company is eyeing international expansion across Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Australia, the UK, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Brazil. 

After years of modest growth, Barry’s Bootcamp received a $100M growth investment from North Castle Partners—a private equity firm that specializes in the health and fitness sector—in 2015. Since then, Barry’s has grown from 17 locations to upwards of 50 locations in 17 cities across 10 states and Washington DC, plus 10 international locations. Most recently, the company opened its Asian flagship studio in Singapore, with Paris, Mexico City, Melbourne, and Doha, Qatar listed as “Coming Soon” on their website. 

Of course, Barry’s 50-ish locations are dwarfed by the thousands of studios coming online at Orangetheory Fitness. After reaching the 1,000-studio milestone and $1B in system-wide revenue for 2018, OTF plans to reach 2,500 global studios and 2.5M members by 2024. Currently, the company has 800K members across 1,100 studios in 49 US states and 22 countries. 

Following a similar trajectory, F45 Training is coming off an investment from Mark Wahlberg and FOD Capital that valued the company at $450M. Since launching in 2012, F45 has already amassed some 1,500 studios. According to F45 CEO Rob Deutsch, the Aussie company is eyeing 10,000 studios as they focus on global expansion. Having already opened in 40 countries, South Korea, Russia, Afghanistan, and Spain are next up. 

Of course, boutique concepts aren’t the only operators on the move. In the US, budget gyms like LA Fitness (700 locations, $2B revenue in 2017), 24 Hour Fitness (430 locations, $1.44B revenue in 2017), and Planet Fitness (1,500 locations, $449.9M revenue in 2017) are doing just fine. Since opening in 2011, Equinox-owned Blink Fitness has reached 50 locations and is continuing expansion. Meanwhile, luxury operators like Equinox and Life Time are expanding beyond fitness to become full-fledged lifestyle brands.

But, circling back to the parallel growth of digital fitness, how can it be that seemly every boutique and some big-box gym is expanding at a time when disruption is imminent?

Despite headlines to the contrary, the all-out collapse of brick-and-mortar gyms isn’t a foregone conclusion. According to Jon Canarick of North Castle Partners, over the next 15 years, the fitness market looks like more of the same. 

In speaking with Health Club Management, Canarick said high-value, low-price (HVLP) options will continue to find success. The same goes for group fitness — what Canarick refers to as HVLP 2.0. As digital options like Peloton apply pressure and competition among studios grows, Canarick expects there to be closures among boutiques — especially in urban markets with expensive rents. 

In the digital and connected fitness space, Canarick sees Peloton as the definitive frontrunner in the premium market. As more competitors enter the space, high-end options like Tonal and Mirror will battle it out for second place. Noting that Technogym has already entered connected hardware, Canarick speculated that SoulCycle, too, will eventually introduce an at-home option. Meanwhile, he sees cheaper options becoming available, further segmenting the market. 

Still, Canarick concludes, “I believe we humans still desire ‘live’ experiences – whether it’s because we work out with friends or because we need motivation and accountability.” 

If that statement proves to be true, the future of fitness will be defined by access—the option to work out at home, go to the gym, or tune into an audio class—and won’t be confined to an either-or decision between digital or in-person exercise.

Headlines & Happenings

🍄 The Shroom Boom

In an effort to address burnout and prioritize our mental health, we’re taking an any means necessary approach to treating what ails us. As opinions of what constitutes an “illegal drug” continue to evolve—evidenced by the widespread legalization of marijuana—psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, is moving into the mainstream. 

“There have been few, if any, real breakthroughs in the last quarter century in the development of psychiatric medicines. Psilocybin promises to be a real game-changer.”
 Bruce Tobin, psychotherapist

A few weeks back, Denver became the first city to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. While mushrooms will remain illegal under state and federal law, Initiative 301 prohibits the city from spending resources to pursue criminal penalties related to the use or possession of psilocybin mushrooms against people 21 and older. 

This move comes amid calls for the wholesale decriminalization of psilocybin, and eventually, all psychedelics. Following the path paved by the “medicalization” of marijuana, advocates are seeking to legitimize the use of psychedelics in therapeutic settings before pushing for recreational use. Seen as a potential breakthrough in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and a host of other conditions, while providing a boost for productivity and creative thinking, psychedelics could become as commonplace as CBD or recreational pot.

🍺 Drink it in

As part of the 2019 Fitt Insider Outlook, we hit on the growing popularity of functional beverages and low- or no-alcohol options. So far this year, CBD- and adaptogen-infused drinks have exploded. In addition to attracting millions in venture funding, brands like Recess and More Labs are creating a future where ingredients like CBD and ashwagandha are as common as caffeine.

“With such a huge market wanting something different from alcohol, why isn’t there a better way to drink?” 
— Helena Price Hambrecht, Haus founder 

Similarly, alcohol is getting the wellness treatment. Earlier this year, in an attempt to attract health-minded consumers, Sierra Nevada Brewing acquired Sufferfest Beer Company — makers of beer for “athletes and adventurers”. But better-for-you beer is just the start. 

Launching this summer, Haus promises to be a healthier alcohol option, “designed for the way millennials drink today.” As co-founder Helena Price Hambrecht wrote in a post on Medium, the company is aiming to become the “Warby Parker of booze.” To achieve that goal, Haus will introduce an all-natural apéritif distilled from grapes and made with fresh herbs and botanicals. The drink will also be lower in sugar and has a lower alcohol content than most standard liquors. 

Following a playbook that has worked for wellness brands ranging from new-age pharma selling ED pills to cannabis companies and vitamin startups, Haus worked with branding agency Gin Lane and will launch its product directly to consumers. Given the shifting attitudes toward alcohol and a billion-dollar opportunity in the space, expect to see more brands following suit with their take on a healthier, DTC alcohol.

💰 Money Moves

Tech-enabled exercise equipment continues to draw interest from VCs, with Mirror set to announce $36M in new funding. Mirror beams boutique fitness classes into the home by way of a sleek, mirror-like display that’s actually an interactive LED screen. Per TechCrunch, the new funding gives the company a valuation of nearly $300M.

More from Fitt >> “What we’re seeing is the development of an exercise ecosystem that offers more options, personalization, and greater accessibility for health-seekers.” Continue Reading.

Wild Earth, a pet food maker using cultured protein to replace animal meat, closed $11M in Series A funding.

Talkspace, an online therapy company, picked up $50M in Series D funding led by Revolution Growth.

Whole Biome, a startup using microbiome interventions to help improve health and wellbeing, raised $35M in Series B financing.

Cusa Tea, maker of premium instant tea, completed a $2.5M Series A funding round.

Jay-Z’s investment firm, Marcy Venture Partners, led a $1M seed round for Partake Foods, maker of allergen-free cookies.

Medly Pharmacy, a NYC-based full-service digital pharmacy, raised an undisclosed Series A funding round led by Greycroft.

More from Fitt >> From Roman to Hims and PillPack to Truepill, online pharmacies are disrupting the $500B US prescription drug market. Continue Reading. 

Perdue Premium Meat Company, a subsidiary of Perdue Farms, will acquire grass-fed beef brand Panorama Meats. Terms were not disclosed.

NAGASE Group, a leading chemical trading firm in Japan, will acquire Prinova, a manufacturer and distributor of premium nutrition ingredients for the global food and wellness industries. Terms were not disclosed. 


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