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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
For years they were empty eyesores.
Today, old left-behind sites are being put to new use as the fitness club binge continues across Memphis.
On Tuesday backhoes tore into the old Imperial Lanes bowling building on Summer Avenue to make room for a Planet Fitness.
On Monday LA Fitness confirmed plans to build a club in Poplar Commons, the same East Memphis shopping center to be anchored by Nordstrom Rack on the site of the old Sears Roebuck department store.
Both health chains are expanding, making use of old sites vacated as consumer tastes and spending habits changed. The trend isn't limited to health spas. Earlier this month, a landlord confirmed restaurant-game arcade Dave & Buster's will open next year in a former Sports Authority store in the Wolfchase Galleria area.
Fueled by investors who expect America's new appetite for exercise will translate into profits, LA Fitness and Planet Fitness are powering up across the country. The rivalry by the newcomers has at once undercut older health spas, while the new facilities attract a wave of customers looking for a way to exercise indoors.
In 2015 all health clubs worldwide pulled in $81 billion as 151.5 million members visited nearly 187,000 clubs. The United States led the way with 55 million members at 36,180 clubs, estimates the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.
At the same time, the clubs see more opportunity. About 83 million Americans engaged in no physical exercise last year, the highest level of totally sedentary adults since 2007, reported the Physical Activity Council.
Investors have noticed the trend. Los Angeles investment firm Seidler Haas Co. bankrolled LA Fitness early on. Planet Fitness, a sponsor of NBC's weight-loss reality show, "The Biggest Loser," raised about $200 million two years ago in a public offering.
In Memphis, a Louisville, Ky.-based franchisee for Planet Fitness plans to build a 20,000-square-foot fitness center on the old bowling alley property at 4700 Summer. The franchisee this week applied for a building permit valued at $3.8 million.
The low-cost club plans to open by October 2017, said Ken Horn, marketing manager for the franchisee, PF Arkansas LLC. The franchisee bought the property on Oct. 17 for $560,000.
PF Arkansas owns three other Planet Fitness gyms in Memphis: at 1635 Poplar Ave., 1880 N. Germantown Parkway and 4126 Elvis Presley Blvd. Two other Planet Fitness sites, in Bartlett and in Hickory Hill, are owned by another franchisee.
Commercial real estate brokers Danny Buring and Robert Sloan of The Shopping Center Group represent LA Fitness, which has been on a growth spree in the Memphis area.
"I can't comment on whether a lease is consummated for LA Fitness in Poplar Commons, but it has been actively pursuing a lease in that area for a while," Buring said.
The East Memphis site will become the seventh LA Fitness in the Memphis area. Gyms already operate at 6730 Polo Grounds in southeast Memphis, 9020 U.S. 64 in Lakeland and 1285 Ridgeway, also in East Memphis.
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