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“Consumers like diversity,” Taunton said. “There is so much opportunity in the health and wellness space.”
Meredith Poppler, a vice president for IHRSA, said the types of fitness programs in which Lift is investing are “in high demand.”
“There has been growth among boutique facilities that offer [these] things,” Poppler said, noting that traditional fitness centers are offering similar programs as well because of their popularity.
Taunton said he approached the founders of 9Round about a year ago and offered to invest in the South Carolina-based company. Today he owns 40 percent of 9Round with the right of first refusal to acquire the rest of the company.
“I told them I could take them from 30 stores to 1,000 stores,” Taunton said. “People today are burning it [personal and business lives] on both ends, and a 30-minute workout is a plus.”
Gina Michaels, owner of the Eden Prairie 9Round, said her clients are mainly in their 30s and skew female.
“They range in age from a seven-year-old who comes in here with his mom to a 70-year old,” Michaels said.
Dillon said opportunities in the fitness arena are ample as long as franchise owners know they are running a business as well as a health club.
“Personal training is not seen as a luxury item anymore,” Dillon said, noting that more and more employers are providing financial incentives for workers to stay fit and healthy. “Boomers want to stay active longer than their parents did. People are still warming up to yoga, and high-intensity training is growing.
“Everything was affected during the recession,” Dillon said. “A whole lot of industries stopped growing, but you didn’t notice any shrinkage in this area.”
David Phelps • 612-673-7269