Flip through the pages of the 2012 calendar, and on any given day, it appeared that some big announcement was made about an acquisition or merger in the fitness industry. That, perhaps, was the biggest trend of the year.
LA Fitness, Irvine, CA, picked up where it left off in 2011 after acquiring 171 clubs from Bally Total Fitness, Chicago. It made two acquisitions in 2012, obtaining the remainder of the 32 clubs from Lifestyle Family Fitness, St. Petersburg, FL, and all 36 clubs from Urban Active, Lexington, KY.
Gold's Gym International, Irving, TX, acquired 11 San Antonio-area clubs from Spectrum Athletic Clubs, El Segundo, CA. Life Time Fitness, Chanhassen, MN, acquired Atlanta's Racquet Club of the South. Bally sold 39 clubs to Blast Fitness, Auburndale, MA. In-Shape Health Clubs, Stockton, CA, acquired the five clubs owned by Millennium SportsClubs, Vacaville, CA.
"This was a year of lots of sales but limited consolidation," says Rick Caro, president of New York-based Management Vision Inc., a fitness club consulting company.
True, 32 clubs here, 36 there, one here, 11 there, and so on may add up, but no mega deals occurred such as the aforementioned LA Fitness-Bally deal last year.
"Consolidation involves probably less than 1 percent of the overall number of commercial clubs in the U.S.," Caro says. "Therefore, despite the fact that everyone has heard from financial people for years and years that this industry is ripe for consolidation, we're still not having a lot of consolidation. I don't think that even 300 clubs will be involved in the total number of transactions this year."
Private equity firms continued to show interest in the industry, most recently with the announced deal by Planet Fitness, Newington, NH, which sold a majority share to TSG Consumer Partners, San Francisco. Curves International, Waco, TX, finalized a deal with North Castle Partners, Greenwich, CT.
Acquisitions in the industry involved not just fitness clubs but manufacturers, too. Hoist Fitness Systems, San Diego, acquired LeMond Fitness, Woodinville, WA, and PPI Acquisitions acquired Power Plate International, Irvine, CA.
Sales and impending sales, such as the one involving 24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, CA, which might not be announced until sometime in 2013, dominated the headlines in 2012. But other important stories—some not involving acquisitions—occurred throughout the calendar year, including the passing of some key figures in the industry.