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The gym business has changed, and new playbooks are taking shape.
Breaking the Mold
For decades, gyms have remained relatively unchanged. And, simply providing space to exercise has proven lucrative.
- As of early 2022, there were 31K health clubs in the US, per IHRSA.
- After growing 121% 2013–2017, boutique fitness will gain 17% 2022–2025.
- The top 25 US operators posted average membership growth of 15% in 2023.
But, the industry has never signed up more than 25% of the US population.
Targeting the other 75%, operators are combining fitness tech, holistic wellness, and healthcare services to create the gym of the future.
Emerging strategies and modalities signal industry-wide shifts ahead.
Gym as clinic. Gyms are becoming equal parts treat and train. Life Time’s MIORA and XPOF’s Lindora package GLP-1s, while overseas brands Saint Haven, TotalFusion, and UNTIL include functional medicine.
Integrated recovery. Helping members recharge, Barry’s stocks Therabody products and syncs with WHOOP. EōS Fitness rolled out Hyperice-equipped recovery rooms. And 24 Hour Fitness added compression boots, cryotherapy, sauna, and more.
Connected clubs. Leveraging hardware and data, EGYM and Technogym personalize workouts. Perch quantifies the weight room, and Lumin’s AI-studio gamifies every rep. Beyond the home, equipment makers Vitruvian and BHOUT are launching standalone studios.
Club-in-club. Going all-in on group, LA Fitness launched a boutique-in-a-box. Bulking up, Virgin Active and Les Mills developed in-house HIIT studios. Diversifying, Europe’s Holmes Place installs TRIB3 in its gyms and Dutch TrainMore sites. Co-locating, Barry’s is scaling RIDE x LIFT cycling studios globally.
Clubs with benefits. Packaging a lifestyle, Equinox Circle connects members with premium products and experiences. Rewarding loyalty, Solidcore supplies deals on Daily Harvest, Care/of, and more. Monetizing members, Planet Fitness sells ad space along with targeted perks.
Decentralized. Digital partnerships like Apple x Anytime Fitness and Les Mills+ x LA Fitness follow members everywhere. Omnipresent, Xponential Fitness offers a multi-studio passport, digital platform, and VR content. In the UK, Fiit’s hybrid studios unify at-home and IRL classes.
Disruptors. Moving in, Nike entered boutique fitness, STRONG Pilates reimagined the reformer, HYROX is scaling gym affiliates, Pvolve is pushing functional strength, and OutFit upgrades outdoor workouts.
Putting family first, kid-friendly clubs with childcare and programming will thrive. The same goes for youth offerings making physical activity more fun.
To become health hubs, gyms need wearable, lab testing, and primary care partners. A turn-key clinic for big-boxes or boutiques will find success. Similarly, a new certification bridging PT and RN will prove necessary.
The holy grail, making fitness a pillar of preventative healthcare will realign incentives and unlock new business models, transforming the industry as we know it.
Takeaway: Gyms of the future won’t be judged on amenities or membership levels but on their ability to improve health outcomes. And moving the needle means getting creative to convert non-exercisers.
🎙 On the Podcast
Executive director of Life Time MIORA Jeff Zwiefel discusses the brand’s evolution.
Former president and COO of Life Time, Jeff now leads the company’s MIORA longevity clinic — pairing fitness and nutrition programs with medical and aesthetic treatments.
We also cover: MIORA’s expansion plans, its role in Life Time’s overall strategy, and its philosophy on GLP-1s.
Listen to today’s episode here.
🤝 Tom Brady merges businesses with NOBULL, targets wellness
The seven-time Super Bowl champion is teaming with billionaire entrepreneur Michael Repole under the NOBULL banner.
- Repole acquired the training and apparel company last year.
- Brady’s merging his nutrition company TB12 and BRADY brand apparel line with NOBULL.
- Brady becomes the second-largest shareholder of the combined company, which will retain the NOBULL name.
Be well. Joining forces, the pair plans to build “the complete wellness company” spanning footwear, apparel, and nutrition.
New directions. NOBULL’s performance ethos made it a CrossFit favorite, vaulting the brand to a $500M valuation in 2021. But, Repole took a majority stake last year after the company cut 35% of its staff.
For Brady, the deal signals a shift away from TB12 performance centers — its Foxboro location closed in October after 10 years. Changing course, consumer products, not physical locations, appear to be the path forward.
Punchline: From Nike to lululemon to Alo, modern-day activewear brands aren’t just selling apparel; they embody a lifestyle. Reorienting around wellness and Tom Brady’s star power, NOBULL wants to corner the market.
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💸 Dr. Andrew Huberman buys yerba mate beverage company
The neuroscientist and podcaster teamed with Andrew Wilkinson’s investment firm Tiny to acquire a majority stake in yerba mate drink maker Mateína.
Bringing the Canadian brand to the US, Huberman will promote Mateína’s ready-to-drink beverages and their health benefits to his devoted following.
Clean energy. Demand for coffee alternatives is fueling the billion-dollar clean energy boom — and yerba mate is stealing market share.
- After notching $140M in sales in ’22, Guayakí raised $75M last January.
- RTD beverage maker Yerbaé went public last year while raising $4M, including backing from Super Bowl-bound QB Brock Purdy.
New high. Trading caffeine for functional mushrooms, brands Four Sigmatic, MUD\WTR, and Ireland’s OYL deliver focus and immune support, while Magic Mind adds matcha to its “productivity drink.”
Takeaway: Consumers are eager for any elixir that optimizes their well-being, but brand-building is a science. Adding to endorsements with AG1 and Momentous, Andrew Huberman is cashing in by bottling his purported secrets to success.
📰 News & Notes
- FitOn, obé add GLP-1 fitness programs.
- Equipment maker WaterRower buys CITYROW.
- Barry’s debuts in Spain, scales cycling concept.
- InsideTracker integrates VO2 max as measure of vitality.
- Target doubles down on wellness, adds 1K+ holistic products.
- UK operator PureGym grows Pure Fitness brand in the US, CAN.
- WellTheory teams with Maven to offer digital autoimmune care.
- Supersapiens expands diabetes tech, launches crowdfunding ahead of US debut.
- NBA selects Plantiga, Reboot Motion for Launchpad cohort. [Re-read: In the Game]
- EGYM becomes exclusive sponsor of the Fitt Insider Podcast, WellToDo newsletter.
- Changing jobs? Find open roles at top companies // Hiring? Partner with our recruiters to access a community of industry professionals.
💰 Money Moves
- Campsider, a France-based used sporting goods platform, closed a €2.5M round led by Founders Future.
- Private equity firm KSL Capital Partners closed a $3B continuation fund for ski resort operator Alterra Mountain Company.
- Ketamine-assisted therapy company TARA Mind closed an $8M seed round led by Satori Neuro.
- Motif Neurotech, a company developing a brain pacemaker for depression, secured $18.75M in an oversubscribed Series A round led by Arboretum Ventures.
More from Fitt Insider: The Rise of Brain Tech Startups
- Being Health raised $5.4M and launched integrated mental health care clinics, combining psychiatry, psychotherapy, ketamine therapy, nutrition counseling, and more.
- A consortium led by real estate developer and MLP owner David Kass acquired pickleball rating system DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) and invested $8M.
- Digital brain health startup Isaac Health raised $5.7M in an oversubscribed seed round led by Meridian Street Capital and B Capital.
- Privately owned gym operator Genesis Health Clubs acquired The Atlantic Club, which counts two New Jersey locations.
- Country artists Eric Church and Morgan Wallen acquired and relaunched outdoor lifestyle brand Field & Stream.
- Value-based endocrinology company Valendo Health raised $4M in a seed round to improve diabetes care.
- Women’s health patient management startup Aster raised $2.4M in a pre-seed round led by Cake Ventures and Cornerstone VC.
Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, Ryan Deer, and Jasmina Breen.