There are 23% more gyms in retail centers than there were in 2010

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
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Traditional tenants in retail centers once scoffed at having gyms in their midst for all the parking spaces they took up. No more.

JLL’s research team examined 6,000-plus fitness center move-ins dating back to 2013 and learned that 111,055 fitness centers currently reside in retail centers, an increase of 23.5% since 2010. It predicted continued growth of this segment to more than 120,000 locations by 2024.

The types and sizes of gyms continue to proliferate, according to JLL’s report, “Fitness Invigorates Shopping Centers.”

Grocery-anchored neighborhood centers continue to be the favored location for gyms. Four out of 10 are located in the necessity-based retail environment. Fitness is rapidly moving out of strip centers. Just five years ago they housed more than 12% of gym, a percentage that has now fallen below 8%.

Malls remain the least popular destination for fitness, though they’re fitness clientele is on the upswing. Fitness move-ins at mall tripled over the past five year, during which time their share of the retail segment grew from 3% to 6.5%.

Traditional gyms made up 33.8% of these mall move-ins with higher-end concepts like Equinox and Life Time Athletic leading this growth. Spinning concepts SoulCycle and CycleBar accounted for 10.3% of mall move-ins, a significant number of those happening in super-regional malls.

Overall fitness center growth is being driven by the low (Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness) and high priced (Orangetheory, Pure Barre) segments of the industry. Planet Fitness opened 600 locations since 2013 and plans to open 250 more in the coming year. 

Though sophisticated in-home fitness concepts like Peloton also continue to gain popularity, JLL research director James Cook predicts that gyms will be a fixture at retail for years to come. Growth will be driven by the proliferation of mixed-use centers, where fitness is a standard amenity. And across retail sectors, JLL predicts growth for allied fitness businesses like juice bars, vitamin stores, athleisure apparel, and spas.

“Landlords will be able to leverage this larger trend of consumer wellness to create tenant synergies, boost sales, and increase traffic and dwell times at their centers,” Cook said.