Anytime Fitness Has Big Plans for Dubai, Middle East


The gym franchise is set to open many clubs in the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is emerging as a fitness hotspot

Anytime Fitness is headed to Dubai, opening its first club in the Middle East hotspot later this year. It will be the first of many Anytime Fitness clubs opening in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the next eight years following a master franchise agreement signed in the region.

It’s more good news for the gym franchise, which earned bragging rights after securing a deal with Apple, making Anytime the tech giant’s first gym partner.

Behind the gym’s upcoming growth in the region is an investment group led by Dr. Mark Mobius, a new master franchisee announced by Self Esteem Brands, Anytime’s parent company, which recently announced plans to merge with Orangetheory Fitness.

“Being a long-time member of Anytime Fitness and having used the clubs around the world makes this investment a natural for me,” Mobius said. 

He will be joined by fellow investor John Ninia to grow Anytime Fitness, along with Ben Matute and Richmond Sy, two Anytime Fitness Philippines franchise operators. Matute and Sy will relocate to Dubai to launch Anytime Fitness UAE and open clubs across the country over the next eight years.

credit: Self Esteem Brands

Anytime’s Global Push

Sander van den Born, Self Esteem Brands’ executive vice president of international, remarked that the UAE is at the “top of the list” when the health and wellness-focused company looks at regions that can capture strong growth.

The Self Esteem Brands executive also noted the “wider recognition of health and wellness initiatives” across the Middle East region, making the fitness operator’s entry into the market ideal.

With the addition of the UAE, Anytime Fitness will operate in more than 40 countries and territories. The gym franchise recently announced plans to enter France, among other international moves.

In the U.S., Anytime Fitness will scale its footprint with the help of Omega Fitness, which was acquired by Seattle-based private equity firm Rainier Partners last year.

Dubai Emerges as ‘Fitness Capital

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If it seems there’s been an advanced push for fitness and wellness in the UAE recently, there has. Dubai, in particular, has been called the “fitness capital” of the region by fitness industry veteran Jack Thomas, co-founder of The Fit Guide, an international rating system that anonymously evaluates fitness and health clubs.

Dubai’s cosmopolitan vibe has anchored the UAE city’s fitness services market with a $700 million value, and it is on track to cross the billion-dollar mark, according to Ken Research’s findings last month.

Ahead of the curve, Barry’s opened a studio in the business district of Dubai in 2017, while F45 Training and Mayweather Boxing, among other fitness concepts, have also settled into the city. 

For its part, the UAE issued a ‘National Strategy for Well-Being 2031’ as it plans to make the region a “world leader in quality of life” by promoting healthy and active lifestyles and positive mental health. 

Dubai’s wellness retreats are second to none; the city is gearing up for a tourism boom this year, with rejuvenation seekers flocking to the lavish region and its high-end “healing hotels” offering an abundance of therapies and services, such as IV drips, salt caves, saunas and more.

Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.

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