Malls open their doors to the once-shunned fitness industry

(Credit: Getty Images)
(Credit: Getty Images)

From TRD South Florida: Gyms are emerging as popular mall tenants as department stores and retailers shrink or close their stores across the country.

The once-shunned gym has become a popular tenant of malls and shopping centers for two reasons: the fitness industry has boomed and mall owners are looking to fill vacant spaces left by retailers that have closed stores or folded thanks to competition from e-commerce, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Chicago-based General Growth Properties plans to bring gyms to half of its 115 malls in the next 10 years, CEO Sandeep Mathrani told the newspaper. Phillips Edison & Company also has fitness centers in nearly half of its more than 340 grocery-anchored shopping centers.

Memberships to health clubs have increased 26 percent since 2009, and consumers are increasingly comfortable going shopping in their fitness clothes.

In South Florida, Equinox has opened locations at Aventura Mall and the Shops at Merrick Park; LA Fitness anchors shopping centers and malls like the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami; and even Boca Raton-based Orangetheory Fitness recently opened in the high-end Miami Design District and in Downtown Dadeland. [WSJ]Katherine Kallergis