Licensors of gyms and fitness brands represent an energetic sector for licensing, launching functional apparel, exercise equipment, fitness trackers, and other product lines closely related to their core mission.
Recent activity includes:
- New licensing programs. Last year, Hard Candy Fitness, a chain of boutique gyms founded by Madonna and named after one of her albums, signed Epic Rights as its agent to expand the brand into retail products. Hard Candy has nine locations around the world, none of them in the U.S. at this point. The brand launched a fitness DVD collection in 2012.
- Direct-to-retail and retail-exclusive deals. Cycling workout brand SoulCycle, which has its own studios and offers classes through gyms such as Equinox, partnered with Target for co-branded workout apparel, water bottles, yoga mats, and other items. The products are available through Target.com as well as in pop-up shops on each stop of a 10-city Target-SoulCycle wellness tour that includes complementary SoulCycle classes. Meanwhile, British Military Fitness, a brand of outdoor fitness classes in the U.K., partnered with Blacks, a U.K.-based outdoor-products retailer, for a line of branded merchandise, as well as a variety of promotional elements.
- Expansion of existing programs. Gold’s Gym, a pioneer in gym-related brand-extension licensing, recently signed First Design Global for a line of sports bottles, protein shakers, and snack containers. And FAM Brands’ Bally Total Fitness debuted a line of five fitness-tracking devices such as heart monitors and fitness watches with Sakar last year, adding to its roster of licensees.
- Promotional partnerships. My Gym Children’s Fitness Center paired with Hedstrom Fitness and its Bosu brand to integrate Bosu Sport for Kids, a fitness program specifically created for children aged 4 and up, into My Gym’s fitness curriculum.
In addition to gyms extending their brands through outbound licensing, a handful of gym operators have partnered with sports- and fitness-related properties to create chains of branded gyms.
One of those, UFC Gym, has been expanding quickly in the last year and now has more than 135 clubs in the U.S., Australia, and Canada. A partnership between Ultimate Fighting Championship and licensee New Evolution Ventures, the chain launched in 2009.
Similarly, Men’s Health magazine partnered with Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning (MBSC) and its THRIVE brand in 2014 and currently operates 36 Men’s Health THRIVE locations across the U.S.