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Crunch Fitness, the gym franchise known for its low membership fees, said this week that it recently invested more than $1 million in its two Sarasota health clubs. 

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The local Crunch franchisee, which owns 32 locations of the fitness chain in Florida and Georgia, said that it put $600,000 towards improving its gym at 3762 Bee Ridge Road and another $500,000 towards its 8440 Lockwood Ridge Road location near University Boulevard. 

© Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mike Lang, Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mik Crunch Fitness on Bee Ridge Road shortly after the gym was allowed to reopen in May 2020. Crunch invested $1.1 million in renovating its two Sarasota gyms – this one and another on Lockwood Ridge Road.

The Bee Ridge club got all new lighting, new paint on the deck and new graphics, a brand new locker room, energy-efficient fans, an upgraded HVAC system, and new equipment, flooring and lighting. The club’s ceiling tile and grid also were removed.

The Lockwood Ridge location was completely rebuilt. The flooring was replaced, a new turf area was put in for members and the cardio equipment was relocated.

The company also removed older Cybex equipment from its University gym and added a new line of Ultra line of equipment by Matrix Fitness. The gym’s relax and recovery area also was updated. 

© Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mike Lang, Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mik Crunch Fitness on Bee Ridge Road recently underwent $600,000 worth of renovations. Pictured is the gym in May 2020.

Geoffrey Dyer, president of the local Crunch franchisee, said that his company puts aside $60,000 per gym, per year just for improvements. The company might not use it every year, but the money does get put into revamping equipment and other upgrades when needed. 

“The depreciation is a real cost,” Dyer said. “Just like the nightclub business, you’ve got to continually reinvest in fitness clubs in order to be successful.” 

Over the next two years, the franchise plans to open 15 new clubs, including two in Sarasota-Manatee. The first, at 7111 Fruitville Road, will be part of Unicorp Development’s planned Southwood Village commercial site, located directly east of the new Fruitville Commons plaza where Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opened in late June. 

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The second will be in Parrish at 3390 Erie Road in an upcoming Benderson Development Co. buildout. The development, called Creekside Commons, will also have a HomeGoods, a Heartland Dental and a nail salon, according to Manatee County public records. Benderson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Business at Crunch has been strong since the gym reopened in May 2020, Dyer said. His company opened seven clubs between when the COVID-mandated shutdown ended in mid-May and October, and four clubs so far in 2021, he said.

The company currently operates 32 clubs in Florida and Georgia, including the Crunch Fitness that opened on State Road 64 in Lakewood Ranch in 2019. 

There’s been a lot of interest in group fitness training, Dyer said. As a result, the Crunch franchise has made a big investment in small group training, adding new classes like hot yoga, spinning and kickboxing. It’s similar to the kinds of classes offered at an Orangetheory Fitness or a Barry’s Bootcamp. 

That’s what sets Crunch apart from competitors like Planet Fitness, which don’t have group classes and focus highly on value, Dyer said. 

“The boutique fitness clubs were a catalyst for that. Pre-COVID, the boutique clubs were doing well,” he said. “At Crunch, our clubs are quite large, 25,000 to 40,000 square feet. We’ve put the boutique experience into our clubs.” 

Dyer also said he expected personal training sessions to drop off by about half after the gym reopened in May 2020. But to his surprise, demand for one-on-one fitness instruction was high. Personal training business was back to normal levels in June, he said. 

“We look at that as an indication that people are worried about their health,” Dyer said. “We’re blessed to be concentrated in Florida, and we’re thankful we’re performing well.”

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This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Crunch Fitness investing $1.1 million in Sarasota gyms

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