Survival of the fittest? LA Fitness buys, closes North Naples gym, which gets new owner

A group of Naples investors acquired Lifestyle's former 31,000-square-foot fitness center site at the Shoppes at Vanderbilt and plan to make it better. The gym, at 2349 Vanderbilt Beach Road, opened in 2008. It's closed temporarily for renovations and will reopen July 13.

— A new locally owned health club is muscling its way into North Naples.

It's called Naples Family Fitness and will replace Lifestyle Family Fitness at the Shoppes at Vanderbilt off Vanderbilt Beach Road.

The gym – one of the shopping center's largest anchors – faced the threat of permanent closure after LA Fitness, a national chain, recently completed a purchase of 32 of the 33 Lifestyle Family Fitness clubs in Florida.

The only Lifestyle Fitness that LA Fitness immediately planned to close was the one leased at the Shoppes at Vanderbilt in North Naples. That's because there's already an LA Fitness less than two miles away at the Pavilion Center off Vanderbilt Beach Road, near U.S. 41.

On Friday, a message to Lifestyle members on the LA Fitness website said the company hopes to "come to terms" on a remaining Hyde Park club in Tampa "in the near future," and confirmed that the rest of the transactions had been completed, bringing an end to the Lifestyle brand.

Lifestyle, founded in 1982, was headquartered in St. Petersburg.

A group of Naples investors acquired Lifestyle's former 31,000-square-foot fitness center site at the Shoppes at Vanderbilt and plan to make it better. The gym, at 2349 Vanderbilt Beach Road, opened in 2008. It's closed temporarily for renovations and will reopen July 13.

"The new owners really see this as an opportunity to come in and establish an upscale health club that is locally owned and locally operated. There has been so much consolidation in the fitness center industry locally," said Clay Cone, a spokesman for the new owners.

During the past few years, competition has heated up in the fitness industry in Southwest Florida, with bigger corporate players coming into the market.

Naples Fitness Center off Castello Drive closed its doors last year after 32 years in business, a victim of a bad economy and too much competition. Naples Fitness members were transferred to Lifestyle Family Fitness. For those who stayed with Lifestyle, they've now been hit with another ownership change in less than a year.

Naples Family Fitness will have a local management team that will be accessible and focus on more personalized service.

"Keep in mind that the current members had no say in the deal," Cone said. "Their memberships just got sold."

The members who were using the gym in North Naples will be able to go to the new locally owned one at no extra cost and their contracts with Lifestyle will be honored, he said. Those members also could choose to go to any LA Fitness.

"They could go to both, compare them and decide from there," Cone said. "Naturally, we think they are going to pick us."

The Lifestyle Family Fitness at 6800 Golden Gate Parkway has become an LA Fitness and remains open. There are other LA Fitness clubs in Bonita Springs, south Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

The Lifestyle Family Fitness at 6800 Golden Gate Parkway has become an LA Fitness and remains open. There are other LA Fitness clubs in Bonita Springs, south Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

The Lifestyle fitness center in North Naples closed on Thursday for renovations. There are plans to add equipment and more programs focused on health, wellness and nutrition. Spa offerings and day-care programs also likely will be enhanced, Cone said.

The club has about 4,500 members.

According to state records, Naples Family Fitness LLC incorporated May 22. Its managing members couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday.

The fitness center has about 30 employees; they will keep their jobs. There are plans to add staff to improve customer service, which will help give the club a competitive edge, Cone said.

"This is actually a good thing. This gym is not only going to stay open, but be expanded upon and give people another option of a place to go to work out," he said.

__ Connect with Laura Layden at www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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