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Anytime Fitness CEO Sees ‘Global’ Opportunity With Apple Deal

Anytime Fitness CEO Sees ‘Global’ Opportunity With Apple Deal

Chuck Runyon spoke with ATN about mastering the member engagement game and the brand’s groundbreaking partnership with Apple Fitness

Anytime Fitness is thriving as fitness consumers return to the gym in full force, with the brand recently forging an unprecedented partnership with Apple that grants U.S. and Canadian members access to Apple Fitness+.

The fitness franchise, under parent company Self Esteem Brands, has reported a strong third quarter with double-digit gains in same-store sales compared to the same period in 2022, a 20% increase in daily club visits versus 2019, and is projecting a record-breaking one million daily member visits come January 2024. 

Chuck Runyon, co-founder and CEO of Anytime Fitness and Self Esteem Brands, spoke with Athletech News about what’s fueling the fast-growing fitness brand’s success, the deal with Apple and the impact of GLP–1 weight loss drugs.

Convenience & Coaching 

“Coming out of COVID, personal wellness has never been more top of mind for people around the world,” Runyon told ATN, adding that search data has demonstrated consumers of all ages and fitness levels are searching for wellness and strength training.

“I also think it’s the execution of our business,” he said. “People are loving the convenience of Anytime Fitness.”

Aside from the convenience factor that allows members to use any of the 5,300 clubs in 40 countries (and growing) 24/7, Anytime Fitness members enjoy the personal systems.

“We have coaching inside of our clubs,” Runyon said. “We also have virtual coaching, so we can meet the consumers where they’re at. We are broadening our services into nutritional support and recovery support — things that are more holistic, and just beyond what people might think of as a traditional gym experience.”

credit: Self Esteem Brands

The wide range of support at Anytime Fitness, paired with macro tailwinds and a keen value proposition, is why Runyon believes the brand has widespread appeal among fitness consumers.

Educating Members on Strength Training

The strength training trend has also taken Anytime Fitness by storm, which Runyon identifies as the number one area of interest for club members.

“If you look at all the empirical data about the importance of strength training, as it relates to healthy aging, weight loss or just feeling stronger — we’re seeing more people inside of the area of functional (training) in our weight area, and therefore we’re tweaking our design a bit to maximize that space,” he said.

Aside from ensuring adequate space to support the strength training demand, Anytime Fitness also supports members in better understanding the benefits of strength. 

“We have personal training and coaches to answer their questions, personalize the workout and help them (maybe for the first time) really understand the benefits of strength training,” Runyon explained.

The (Many) Benefits of Apple Fitness

Anytime Fitness is leaning into its new partnership with Apple to support its members holistically in the areas of sleep, recovery and nutrition. The deal is notable, as it marks Apple’s first-ever collaboration with a gym or health club.

“We’ve known Apple for many years,” Runyon said, explaining that Anytime Fitness has had a relationship with the tech titan before COVID.

“That’s where this partnership with Apple is so important to us, because now outside of the gym, we can help members with meditation, we can help them with walking more…there are 12 different modalities,” he added.

Starting December 1, Anytime Fitness members get access to an Apple Fitness+ subscription for free.

credit: Self Esteem Brands

The fitness brand had created a business model where members could access gyms 24/7/265 with global reciprocity via a key fob. Now, digital keys are available. 

“You can open every door in the world with your phone, and that digital access path is also going to go in the wallet that Apple provides,” Runyon said. “So we’ve been working closely with them. I think they’re very excited about this new digital key approach.”

Runyon also confirmed that Anytime Fitness has been in talks with Apple about HealthKit, a storage bank for health and fitness data on iPhone and Apple Watch that will allow members to become the “CEO” of their own health.

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Runyon added that Apple and Anytime Fitness are aligned to create a frictionless experience and improve member engagement.

“We think this is going to, of course, bring more members in and keep them longer and, most importantly, help them achieve fitness goals,” Runyon said of the deal with Apple. “We’re going to get people healthier and help our franchisees succeed.”

While the complimentary Apple Fitness+ will first be available to Anytime Fitness members in the U.S. and Canada, Runyon said the plan is to get it in the hands of members around the world. The Apple team also attended the Anytime Fitness annual conference this month in Colorado Springs.

“I think they came away with even more admiration and more passion for our franchisees around the world,” Runyon said. “And they could not be more excited. We are locked arms here to make this a global success.”

Supporting Members on Weight Loss

On the topic of weight loss drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy, which analysts predict will have a positive impact on the fitness industry, Runyon says Anytime Fitness supports their members in their personal decisions and is ready to meet them where they are with its array of member benefits.

“If they’re taking weight loss drugs, fantastic,” Runyon said, pointing to data that shows integrating strength training can be helpful if taking GLP-1s. He also sheds light on the benefits of working out for mood and mental health, which weight loss alone can’t address. 

“We have a nutrition component here with coaches — we want to meet our members where they’re at,” he noted. “So we’re supportive, and we just want to make sure (members) are living a full, healthy lifestyle.”

New Year, New Opportunities for Growth 

Runyon credits the ongoing success of Anytime Fitness to its franchisees, who he says are passionate and care deeply about the health of their members, as well as the brand’s large network of worldwide coaches and its global footprint of fitness clubs.

“If you put that all together, it’s an unmatched value proposition,” the he said. “There’s no one who can help our members achieve better health better than Anytime Fitness. We’re proud of that.”

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