Consumers have become accustomed to expect options. Whether it's where to eat lunch, buy clothes or purchase household items, shoppers are always on the lookout for specialized stores that fit their needs. As our society continues to trend toward healthier lifestyle options, a door has opened for gyms and related fitness tenants to enter the market alongside health food stores, athletic clothing shops and outdoor sporting goods stores.
Owners and developers looking to offer more "experiences" and activities to draw in shoppers will find that health and fitness centers fill that void and are beginning to snatch up vacant retail spaces varying in size from small boutique shops to large big box retail properties. Tenants range from larger traditional gym facilities to those offering specialty workouts, such as mixed martial arts and personal training.
The Jacksonville, Fla. market has seen several health and fitness expansions in recent months. The national gym chain L.A. Fitness recently expanded to Jacksonville, with plans for more locations in the works. However, the expansion of larger chains has not deterred local operators from entering and expanding in the market. One example of this is Training Ground Fitness, the concept of a Jacksonville native who was responsible for bringing World Gym to the market. This gym recently leased a 22,500 square foot space that was formerly occupied by a Save-A-Lot grocery store.
As specialized health care becomes more in demand, boutique fitness tenants are also experiencing growth. The popularity of CrossFit, Yoga, Boxing and Spinning in recent years has shown that people are looking for alternatives to the traditional gym. Pure Barre, which focuses on isometric movements at the ballet barre set to motivating music, has opened several new locations and developed quite a following. Likewise, an increased popularity in mixed martial arts and boxing prompted the opening of Title Boxing in the area earlier this year.
Personal training facilities have also been cashing in on the demand for specialized fitness options that offer one-on-one attention. Timed Exercise is just one example of a gym concept focused on group personal training that has expanded in the Jacksonville market.
As consumers continue to look for new and exciting ways to exercise, shopping center owners and developers can expect to see a rise in independent and franchisee exercise concepts offering specialized exercise alternatives to keep their clients engaged. These specialty concepts like Pure Barre and CrossFit will continue to expand in the retail market as consumers continue to explore new fitness options.
— Jamie Swanson specializes in big box and small shop retail leasing as a director at Franklin Street, based in the firm's Jacksonville office. He can be reached at