Pickleball, a sport regaining popularity in the United States, has a friend in Life Time, who operates more than 350 permanent pickleball courts in the country
Life Time Fitness has set its sights on expanding its existing 350 pickleball courts in the United States, with plans to open 600 more by the end of 2023. As one of the largest operators of tennis courts, with nearly 300 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and dozens of squash courts, Life Time is no stranger to net sports.
“If you had told me a year ago that I would be spending so much time playing, thinking about, and talking about this sport, I would have cheerfully challenged you. But now I’m obsessed,” Life Time Founder, Chairman, and CEO Bahram Akradi said to Club Industry. “With the existing footprint of our athletic country clubs and incredible coaches and pros, we saw the opportunity to lead this sport and we took it. We will be not just the biggest provider of pickleball but also the best.”
Why the growth in pickleball? Some hypothesize that because pickleball is slower-paced and there’s less ground to cover, it’s more accessible for some athletes. It’s also more efficient for operators, who can fit four pickleball courts onto one tennis court, and most picklers play doubles. Some research also suggests that it might be safer for athletes with heart issues, as well.
Life Time offers pickleball lessons, leagues, and tournaments to meet the sport’s growing popularity. Since August 2021, Life Time has built indoor and outdoor courts at a rate of five new permanent courts each week from coast to coast. Some even have stadium seating, social lounges, and more. Pickleball court competitors can’t hold a candle to Life Time—no other brand comes close to operating as many courts.
“Within our healthy way of life ecosystem, we consider pickleball another amazing growth opportunity,” Akradi said to Club Industry. “We’ve seen total monthly participation at our clubs grow from approximately 16,000 to more than 70,000 in just the past nine months. Someday soon I believe that pickleball will be the sport that gets the largest number of people moving for fun, connection, competition, and the simple love of the game.”