Anytime Fitness, Club Pilates Enter France

Club Pilates

Two US fitness giants are launching global franchises in France.

The latest: Boutique fitness franchisor Xponential Fitness signed with TCMP Fitness to open 75 Club Pilates sites over ten years, while Self Esteem Brands’ budget gym Anytime Fitness will debut in six areas: Paris, Île-de-France, Auvergne, Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes and the Côte d’Azur.

Both brands aim to ride the wave of l’Hexagone’s post-pandemic gym interest amidst the strong recovery of Europe’s fitness industry.

Why it matters: France is Europe’s third-largest market for fitness (after Germany and the UK), and over the last two years, existing operators have reaped the benefits of a growth market.

All France’s major brands are either part or full franchise, with each of them expressing aggressive expansion plans:

  • After adding 20 health clubs in ’22, L’Orange Bleue hit 376 clubs, pushing for 450 new sites in five years.
  • Keepcool counts 300 “social fitness clubs” after gaining 30 last year.
  • Fitness Park Group added 12 French gyms in 2022 while opening its 20th gym in neighbouring Spain just three years after entry.
  • Despite fifth-largest chain L’Appart Fitness losing 9 locations last year, it envisions 108 clubs to reach 500 by 2030.

Meanwhile, Dutch budget concept Basic-Fit is growing the fastest in France, adding 119 last year to reach 647 total, with plans for at least 400 more.

First-timers. Across Europe, Club Pilates already has agreements in place for the UK, Spain, Germany and Austria, part of 800 clubs in four continents. Anytime Fitness – with 5.1K clubs in all seven continents – has gyms in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. Both will now tailor their offerings to French exercisers for the first time.

With the French market ripe for expansion, Sander van den Born, executive vice president of international at Self Esteem Brands, sees opportunity:

“With the general recovery of the fitness market in France, the moment is right; we are well placed to bring the Anytime Fitness brand here as we accelerate our growth across the European landscape.”

French (dis)connection. Overall, memberships are on the rise, and France’s 5.3K clubs saw users increase by 16% since 2021. This aligns with Europe, up 12.3% in 2022 (56.2M to 63.1M) from 2021.

Yet, while 80% of the French population are sometimes active (home, gym or outdoors), only 58% engage in fitness once a week, and running and walking are the most popular pursuits, by far.

Takeaway: The overarching question is if there will be enough consumer engagement to justify more fitness facilities spilling into the market – especially for American concepts at square one. But with more Gen Zers hitting the gym, post-COVID behaviour change and a struggling health network nudging people towards preventative healthcare, French culture may have room for a few more gyms.