Anytime Fitness Expands to Middle East

The company's entrance into the Middle East is its latest in a series of international expansions; within the past year, it has opened nearly 300 clubs and now boasts 1,700 clubs worldwide.

Anytime Fitness, LLC, recently made its debut in the Middle East.

The first of several planned club locations in the state of Qatar opened Sunday, the Hastings-based fitness chain said Monday.

The company's entrance into the Middle East is its latest in a series of international expansions. Within the past year, it has opened nearly 300 clubs worldwide-including clubs in New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Almuftah Marketing, a division of the Qatar-based Almuftah Group, will own and operate the clubs in Qatar under an area development agreement with Anytime Fitness. The Almuftah Group is involved in various business ventures, including restaurant franchising for Pizza Hut, Arby's, TCBY, and others; consumer retail products; automobile sales; and manufacturing and engineering.

“Our long-range goal is to open an Anytime Fitness club in each town in Qatar, to make fitness accessible to everybody,” Ali A. Almuftah, director of the Almuftah Group, said in a statement. “We're also planning to open new clubs in the neighboring countries in the Middle East region.”

The Qatari government won a bid to host the FŽdŽration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in 2022. Almuftah said last year that he thinks the Qatari government's focus on sports and recreation will help bolster the public's interest in health and fitness.

Qatar is a peninsula situated in the Persian Gulf; it has about 1.7 million residents and boasts the highest gross domestic product per capita in the world.

Founded in 2002, Anytime Fitness now has more than 1,700 clubs and 1.3 million members worldwide. Its “neighborhood clubs” were designed to provide a smaller, more convenient alternative to oversized and overpriced health clubs. Members can work out around the clock thanks to computerized key fobs that allow entry-and they have access to all clubs worldwide.

Entrepreneur magazine ranked Anytime Fitness 11th on its 2012 “Franchise 500” list, which identifies America's top franchise opportunities. The company ranked 10th on the publication's fastest-growing franchises and top global franchises lists.