As the industry grows and more operators achieve global ‘mega player’ status – deemed to be in excess of 1,000 locations – the saturation of the market is increasing and we’re entering a new phase of accelerating aggregation and churn.
At the moment, the biggest players include companies such as Planet Fitness with 2,291 locations, Basic-Fit with 1,097, RSG with 1,000, Xponential with 2,100, Anytime Fitness with more than 5,000, Snap Fitness with 2,000 and F45 with 1,750.
At this kind of scale, brands become their own ‘vortex’, able to sell an increasingly broad range of services to customers and offering cross-portfolio access, such as that afforded by Xponential’s recently-launched X-Pass.
This ‘all locations’ offering is for customers who want to use locations from across the company’s entire estate – which currently has 10 brands covering everything from rowing, yoga, lifting, running and cycling to barre, stretching, boxing and Pilates.
By operating across so many wellness sectors, Xponential is able to keep its members within its own universe for most if not all of their fitness needs, through the X-Pass programme.
In addition to enabling brands to effectively aggregate their own estates – instead of using an external service, such as Classpass – this kind of scale also enables them to create operating clusters to drive economies of scale and improve market visibility, staff training and career opportunities.
As mega players emerge there’s also an accelerating churn in relation to real estate, as market forces determine which brands thrive best in which locations. A steady stream of sites is now changing hands as operators work to optimise locations.
We’re seeing deals whereby one brand is taking over locations previously run by another and they’re thriving under new ownership where they’d previously failed.
In our interview on page 34, industry veteran, Dave Courteen addresses this issue, saying: “Operators must be very clear in their messaging, so people find their way to a club they’re likely to stick with – be clear in who you’re targeting – try not to be all things to all people. Provided we’re clear in our messaging, I believe we can be successful at keeping people engaged with our clubs.”
The final piece of this jigsaw puzzle is input from entrepreneurs who are building businesses to sell to mega player brands. We’re seeing start-ups aligning new health clubs with the systems and processes that will enable them to achieve a profitable exit by selling out to a specific operator as investment continues to flow into the sector.