Japan Agreement Lands Anytime Fitness in Asia

300 new clubs projected over 10 years

Jun 15, 2010, 05:15 ET from Anytime Fitness

HASTINGS, Minn., June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Anytime Fitness, the fastest-growing fitness club chain in the world, continues to accelerate its international expansion, this time – into Japan. The attainment of a master franchisee agreement for Japan, one year in the making, comes just weeks after the fitness chain announced its plans to open clubs in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Recent overseas deals, combined with 300 new club openings in the U.S. each of the past two years, put Anytime Fitness on pace to open its 2,000th club by the end of next year.  The fitness franchise currently boasts nearly a million members, 1,250 gyms across all 50 states, and over 100 clubs open in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and India.

"This is an exciting time for Anytime Fitness as we continue to introduce our brand to different parts of the world," said John Kersh, Vice President of International Development for Anytime Fitness.  "Japan is an ideal starting ground for our Asian expansion, and well-suited for the Anytime Fitness concept."

The master franchise group in Japan is comprised of several individuals with extensive experience in the international fitness industry. Their company, Fast Fitness Japan, Inc. will now do business as Anytime Fitness Japan.

The consortium is led by Toru Yamazaki, former CEO of Megalos, the 5th largest health club chain in Japan (a subsidiary of Japanese corporate giant, Nomura Real Estate Group).

Yamazaki personally assembled the master franchise team:

  • Akira Okuma, Chairman - Largest investor, and an expert in real estate development.
  • Joe Plastino, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development - A 20+ year veteran of the health and fitness industry.
  • Koji Akiya, Vice President of Sales & Marketing - 20+ years in managerial roles in the health and fitness industry.
  • Atsuyuki Tsuchiya, Vice President of Operations - Industry veteran in health club operations and management.

The Japanese fitness market appears ripe for expansion. There is a much lower penetration of gym memberships - only 3-4% of the population as members of gyms, versus 15% in the U.S. – perhaps resulting from the country's lack of variety in their current club offerings.

"We fully expect that Anytime Fitness will reinvigorate the Japanese market with its convenient and affordable fitness offering," said Yamazaki.

And, they're wasting no time – they expect to open the first Anytime Fitness gym in Japan by September 2010, with future aims to have 30 clubs operational by 2012 and over 300 within 10 years.

"We will start in Greater Tokyo, the most densely populated and business centric part of the country," Plastino said. "Our headquarters are in Tokyo, so we'll be in a strong position to build our reputation and sell franchises."

Yamazaki and his team will continuously monitor trends to determine additional geographic locations, but he expects the concept to thrive in locations where Anytime Fitness has been successful in the U.S. -- suburban markets near larger cities and smaller towns where the market for an Anytime Fitness club exists but where no health clubs are currently located.

Only slight changes are expected to be made to the Anytime Fitness model in Japan -- namely, the average club size will be smaller due to scarce land and expensive real estate, and basic adaptations will be made to address cultural differences.

Anytime Fitness CEO and co-founder Chuck Runyon insists that the brand's value will translate overseas. "Whether it's Minneapolis or Tokyo, there's a market for convenient and affordable fitness options in a friendly, non-intimidating atmosphere."

Membership fees at the Japanese clubs are expected to be in the US$50US$60 per month range. Similar to Anytime Fitness clubs in the United States, the gyms in Japan will feature a wide variety of cardio equipment and strength training machines, and be accessible to members 24 hours a day.

About Anytime Fitness

Founded in 2002, Anytime Fitness is now the fastest-growing fitness club franchise in the world, with more than 1,300 clubs currently open in North America, Australia, New Zealand and India – and coming soon to Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Anytime Fitness prides itself on providing its members with convenient and affordable fitness options in friendly, well-maintained facilities which feature top-quality exercise equipment. State-of-the-art security and surveillance systems ensure member safety even during unstaffed hours at the clubs. Anytime Fitness connects with the health and fitness community online via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Anytime Health.

SOURCE Anytime Fitness