THE WEEKLY HOWL is a Knucklehead Climbing Gym Guy

Climb On:  Earth Treks, a chain of climbing gyms, is taking over what used to be the headquarters of Sport Authority in Colorado. This encapsulates 2 trends in the fitness industry:

1.       As the brick & mortar retail struggles, landlords are turning to gyms to fill some of those anchor tenant spots in large shopping centers.

We have been seeking out those kinds of spaces forever, and almost always landlords wouldn’t even want to hear our pitch. They were intrigued by our use, but they couldn’t get past the fact that we weren’t as a good of a credit tenant as, say, a Best Buy or something,” Warner said. “Now they look at those kinds of places thinking they don’t want to sign a lease because they are probably going to be bankrupt in two years. Now they are saying, ‘Well, let me get this knucklehead climbing gym guy instead.’ ”

2.       Climbing gyms are sprouting up all over the place.

WeWorkOut: WeWork, the shared workspace startup, is dipping its toes into fitness.

Since last year, the company has offered fitness classes including spinning, yoga, meditation, dance, and kickboxing at several of its New York City locations, according to a public website for “WeWork Wellness.” Classes take place alongside WeWork’s small office services, in common areas, on rooftop decks, and in other spaces that the brand has turned into “pop up” fitness studios.

                WeWork is also opening a permanent gym at one of its Manhattan locations. This would appear to be a good fit and a great way for WeWork to expand as the gym business is a real estate game. But WeWork will have to decide if it wants to be primarily a real estate company or provide services to startups and small businesses in the long-run. It will be tough to do both.

Death to the Hotel Gym: There is a new trend in the hotel industry: fitness rooms. Major brands like Hilton and Starwood are reconfiguring rooms to include a fitness area. Amenities range from Peloton bikes to TRX suspension trainers to yoga videos on demand. As you can imagine, these rooms command a premium, up to $100 extra a night in the case of the Ritz-Carlton.

The hotel industry is also responding to a changing demographic, said Larry Yu, professor of hospitality management at George Washington University. “Evolving from baby boomers to millennials, fitness has really become a lifestyle,” Yu said. “It’s not just your typical amenity now. Hotels are all working very hard to figure out how they can provide the best service and equipment to the guests because the guests expect and value those.”

                I support anything that helps people stay in shape but I’d much rather see hotels focus on improving their fitness centers. Having to pay a premium for access to fitness equipment is another move towards making it a luxury good. Besides, you can buy your own TRX straps for the cost of 2-3 nights in a Hilton Five Feet to Fitness room. Just saying.

Naptime: A gym in London has begun offering Napercise, a group class aimed at giving its participants 45 minutes of sleep. Basically, it’s naptime for adults. I have no problem with anyone taking a nap and I understand the benefits of a good night’s sleep but this isn’t exercise. Sleep would fall into the recovery category. The fitness industry is already a weird place and it is stuff like this that makes it tough for outsiders to take it seriously.

Tidbits:

-CrossFit Regionals are ongoing. The Meridian, West, and Atlantic regionals are this weekend and will be streamed via Facebook and YouTube. Top finishers qualify for the CrossFit Games in Madison, WI in August.

-The Los Angeles Lakers have hired celebrity trainer and “ass guru” Gunnar Peterson to be their new strength & conditioning coach.

-Dani Mathers, the Playboy model who body-shamed a fellow gym-goer on social media, received 30 days community service and 3 years of probation for invasion of privacy

-Never shower barefoot at the gym! If you forget your shower shoes, shower in your socks.