Are malls in America really dead? No, say fitness gurus who have now established themselves in large malls and help them revive again. Take the case of Life Time Fitness, which has set up shop in 127 malls all across the country, including seven in Detroit alone. In fact, now stand-alone gyms are now moving over into large shopping centers to provide gym services and related lifestyle services like spars, bars and cafes.
Then there are other fitness companies like Planet Fitness, Gold's Gym and LA Fitness that are building gyms in shopping centers. Some of them build in spaces vacated by stores that could not do good business. In 2017 alone, fitness shops accounted for 17% of the total retail space leased out by the top 170 retail stores.
Convenience to shoppers is a big factor in setting up shop in gyms. Therefore, if a gym is not planned in the right shopping center, there could be problems, for instance lack of sufficient parking space.
Today, all over the country, the health and fitness industry has grown into a $25.8-billion-a-year business with 36,000 health and fitness clubs and more than 55 million members. Planet Fitness has over 1,200 gyms all over North America. It also has two gyms in malls in Michigan City and Burton and in warehouses in other parts.
The availability of retail space takes gyms to malls. Here, they breathe new life into malls struggling to survive. Often, clubs bring in on an average about 2000 members a day. For others witnessing this massive footfall in malls has a positive effect on those at the mall. For the owners of the mall it means their leases get a boost.
When the Dallas-based Gold's Gym set up shop in Michigan, they created the magic called footfalls, but they also faced the problem of having insufficient parking for new members. Further, the entrance to the gym space, being small, is often problematic.
These days, the presence of fitness centers in malls is reshaping the latter to be more than just shopping centers. Few gyms are spread over a large area and often extend to two or three floors. They are equipped with the latest fitness equipment, and have a swimming pool, kids’ space for play and activities, apart from yoga and spin classes. This makes such malls a family recreation centre which they enjoy going to. For the owners, it means unprecedented growth over a short period.
There are many such family recreation centers springing up all over the United States that offer not just exercise classes but dance, physical therapy and chiropractic services, apart from cafes and bars. Truly, fitness now takes a holistic view, as it becomes all things to everyone.