Exercising Caution: National Fitness Chains Put Twin Cities’ Debuts on Hold

Exercising Caution: National Fitness Chains Put Twin Cities’ Debuts on Hold

SoulCycle, Barry's Bootcamp reconsider expansion plans.

At the outset of the year, there was talk of two buzzy national fitness companies, New York-based SoulCycle and Los Angeles-based Barry’s Bootcamp, planning their first locations in the Minneapolis market. But with the uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought to the business of fitness clubs and gyms, those plans are on hold or delayed.

SoulCycle had reportedly been targeting a fall 2020 opening in the mixed-use Nolan Mains project near 50th and France in Edina.

According to a SoulCycle spokeswoman, those plans are on ice: “The studio opening in Minneapolis is currently on hold, as we focus and plan on safely reopening our existing studio locations across the country. Our priority is to ensure we have a safe environment for our teams and riders in our current studios before we move forward with the opening of new locations.”

Representatives for Barry’s Bootcamp did not respond to requests for comment about their prospective Minneapolis location, slated for the Loose-Wiles Building in the North Loop. Previous reports indicated it was to open last winter. 

“We haven’t heard any updates,” says Tim Bildsoe, president of the North Loop Neighborhood Association.

Fitness clubs are considered retail properties in the world of commercial real estate. Stefanie Meyer, principal and senior vice president of tenant representation with Mid-America Real Estate-Minnesota, says that retailers across the board have shelved plans for new locations until the future is clearer.

The industry is stressed by the pandemic. Dallas-based Gold’s Gym recently declared bankruptcy, and 24 Hour Fitness is reportedly on the brink.

The Twin Cities is headquarters for three large fitness chains: Life Time, Snap Fitness, and Anytime Fitness. Meanwhile, another local chain sees room for growth. Founded in 2006, Discover Strength will open its sixth metro location in St. Louis Park this fall. Founder/CEO Luke Carlson says that his boutique studios focus solely on strength training and cater to busy people: The protocol calls for just two 30-minute sessions per week.

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Carlson doesn’t sweat the big-name national competitors; he believes he has a “strategic niche.” In his model, there are only a few people in the studio at a given time. “Our concept is more Covid-resistant.”

This story appears in the June/July 2020 issue with the title “Exercising Caution.”