Fitness Trends in California - Report on IHRSA 2018


Fitness Trends in California - Report on IHRSA 2018

“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Robert F. Kennedy

Elon Musk has the same way of thinking and its revolutionised payment systems, PayPal, solar energy, SolarCity, electric cars, Tesla, and the private space industry, SpaceX. What if Elon dreamed and asked why not of the fitness industry?

I’m in California for the annual IHRSA gathering and this year around 12,000 registered for the convention and trade show from 70 different countries, including over 200 people from the UK and 95 from Japan.

California is the most populous US state with around 40 million residents and if it were a country it would be the 5th largest economy in the world. It is home to four of the world’s ten largest companies and four of the ten richest people. California is considered a global trendsetter in so many areas including technology, film, new media, wine and, of course, fitness.

The can-do attitude here is layered with dynamism, creativity and a pace of life that’s infectious. No wonder the state has six of the fifteen fittest cities in the entire country. People who live in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego value their health and love working out thus thousands of people are inventing new concepts all the time. These cities are also home to some of the most successful global fitness trends including, group cycling, Piloxing, Pound, Aeriform and ViPR to name a few.

Fitness in California is the darling of the high street. A failed yoghurt shop turns into HIIT House , a failed nail bar turns into WoLAFiT , a failed show room turns into Carrie’s Pilates Plus , a failed fashion store becomes the fashionable CruBox . New brands like Bunda, (for a better butt), RiseNation, (30 minutes of VersaClimber classes), LIT (Low Impact Training based on water rower and resistance bands), Prevail (high energy group boxing classes) are just a very few of the new I tried or thought of trying.

StretchLab, seemed a good idea at the time, one to one assisted stretching for 25 minutes, but two days later I really felt it. StretchLab is one of the portfolio of concept brands under Xpotential Fitness, founded in 2017 and backed by private equity heavyweight TPG Growth. It already has RowHouse (a low-impact rowing concept), Club Pilates (with over 360 sites, it’s the USA largest Pilates franchise) and most recently a NYC dance concept (developed by Anna Kaiser InTensive). I tried their group cycling brand CycleBar in LA’s Culver City and this brand will debut at Battersea, London, UK, around June this year. Oliver Chipp has taken the master franchise agreement for the UK and plans to open over 30 studios over the next few years.

Floyd Mayweather, the undefeated boxer, 50-0, with an estimated fortune of $1 billion and renowned for his fitness levels has opened a flagship Mayweather Boxing & Fitness studio on Wilshire in LA. Small intense classes allow you to follow Floyd’s training programme. At the end of the class I asked my instructor how long it will take to improve my shadow boxing technique, about a year came the reply. To help me I have the Mayweather app and the virtual reality in-home workout. Mayweather and his team are thinking big, 200 sites over the next two years with a franchise model that offers to rebrand existing gyms which will help scale faster.

In 1986 Angel Banos first walked into a Gold’s Gym on Venice Beach and today, with his brother, they own 11 clubs in the Greater LA area and have just agreed to expand into southern California. One of my early LA favourites was Angel’s Gold’s West Hollywood on Cole. Besides the stunning atmosphere this club keeps the studio programme on trend with pre-choreographed Barre classes from SoulBody. I just wish my body holistically flowed as well as some people around me. Body bar and ballet barre are mindfully intense movements that work deep into the muscles, no wonder the word sculpt often comes up in conversation.

Outside the main cities the fitness love-in on the high street continues. Temecula City in Southern California, just north of San Diego, has a population of just over 100,000 with a median household income of $78,356. The City sustains over 20 fitness brands plus boutique studios, all scattered throughout the shopping complex and where the ‘high-value, low-price’ EOS Fitness are just fitting out a new site to add to the mix. EOS Fitness are expanding following the acquisition in 2015 by BRS and PEM. BRS previously took Town Sports International from 22 clubs to 162 and an IPO in ten years.

At the California Science Centre I watch, again, the launch of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and the dummy driver, Starman, cruising our solar system. You can follow its progress at

What if Elon thought fitness?

the launch of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and the dummy driver, Starman, cruising our solar system


David Minton

David Minton

Founder, The Leisure Database Company
Special Advisor, Sasakawa Sports Foundation