LA Fitness to open three new gyms

LA Fitness, the health club chain, has signed leases to open three new gyms in the Washington area, according to real estate investment firm Next Realty, which handled the deals.

The locations — in Mitchellville, Bowie and Manassas — are scheduled to open by the first quarter of 2014. A fourth is planned to open in Towson, north of Baltimore.

“They are aggressively growing,” said Ray Schupp, principal at Next Realty. “The health club industry is still underserved in a lot of ways, and there’s a lot of room for expansion.”

LA Fitness, which already has 18 locations in the Washington area, is also eyeing new locations inside the Capital Beltway, Schupp said. Two years ago, the Irvine, Calif.-based company acquired Bally Total Fitness, inheriting 11 gyms in the region.

The company did not return repeated calls for comment.

“The industry in general, and especially with LA Fitness, is becoming more and more about daily needs,” Schupp said. “They want to be close to residential areas so people will come by during those peak hours right after work.”

Schupp says grocery store consolidations and big-box store vacancies have created prime opportunities for sprawling fitness centers to set up shop in empty buildings. Of LA Fitness’s upcoming locations, which range from 31,000-square-feet to 45,000-square feet, two will take the place of grocery stores and one will move into the site of a former Bed, Bath & Beyond.

The openings come at a time when several other companies have announced similar plans to expand in the region. The District’s Vida Fitness is opening a 28,000-square-foot gym near Nationals Stadium in Southeast Washington. Crunch Fitness, which has locations in Chevy Chase and the District, is in the process of opening another outpost in Reston.

“Health clubs are looking to expand,” Schupp said. “There’s a lot of growth happening in that industry.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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