I thought Life Time was just a gym, until I moved in.
For a few days, anyway, on a recent trip to Miami, learning that the healthy lifestyle brand with sports centers across the United States and Canada had recently opened its first 14-story development ” live, work, play and stay ”in Coral Gables, now open for short and long term stays. Checking in I learned that Life Time – which owns the Miami Marathon and even has its own water brand – is more like good health. Empire, populated by a tribe of smiling, fit and happy people. I quickly became one of them. I stayed in one of the 495 residences in the massive resort, a magnificent two bedroom unit covered in granite and marble and offering a view out to the bay. I worked from a desk in the sleek coworking space, ate low-carb delicacies at the Life Café adjacent to the expansive pool, enjoyed a ridiculously invigorating massage from Aida at the spa, stocked my fridge with Trader’s snacks Joe’s in the resort and amazed by the well-equipped kids’ club (which offers 2.5 hours of free babysitting per month, not to mention private lessons and art classes as part of a membership option for children).
And, yes, I went to the gym. No, not the gym – Life Time calls it a “luxury sports complex”; I call it a breathtaking wellness wonderland, with the most modern equipment I have ever moved my muscles in, trainers that literally seem to live to get you in perfect shape, and 70 classes per week, from Pilates to the spinning.
Curious to learn more about the ethics of Life Time and its future plans for world domination – well, at least the expansion of its “live, work, play and stay” model to cities like Las Vegas and Chicago – I asked a few questions of the very charming Mark Huckaby, Regional Rental Manager for Multi-Family Operations at Life Time Living.
What does the Life Time slogan “love your life” mean to you? Life Time has been around for 30 years, as of July 2022. Several years ago we did a lot of research with clients and the two words people used overwhelmingly to describe how Life Time made them feel “healthy” and ” happy “. It is our passion: to empower people to live healthy and happy lives and to love their lives by doing so. Exercise, community, time well spent, find their passion, try new things – we own and produce over 30 sporting events, including the New York Triathlon, Miami Marathon, Leadville 100 Mile Race and the mountain biking, the classic Sea Otter and more. It is “Love your life! “
I was struck during my stay by the amazing way, well, happy Life Time staff are. What is the secret to creating such a tribe of a cheerful team? It’s great of you to say that. First, the people who choose to work at Life Time are aligned with our company values and genuinely want to be with us. We have a solid training program that prepares them for success whatever their role; Life Time University is our training and development division, and we establish programs that help them grow in their careers with us. We have great leaders who don’t manage, but really do lead and get the job done, along with their teams. And a lot of our GMs or club directors, like Gino at Coral Gables, whom you met, grew up working at Life Time. We all really love our jobs and that leads to a happy team.
How do you describe Life Time as a business to someone who knows nothing about it? Many people describe Life Time in two ways: 1. Today’s modern country club without golf; or 2. An athletic lifestyle resort. We embraced the Sports Complex because it’s really what we offer our members – and what members offer to each other: a place for healthy living, healthy aging and healthy 90-day entertainment. at 90 years old. When our founder Bahram Akradi started Life Time, we were Life Time Fitness. These three words each had a specific meaning: we have our life, we have time, and we have the physical form. We discontinued “Fitness” in 2017. Over time, and with Bahram’s original vision intact, our clubs have grown to an average of 115,000 square feet serving the whole family with boutique style classes, trainers. incredible staff, beautiful spaces with high-end equipment and furnishings, children’s programming, full-service spa and salon and casual fast-food restaurant, indoor and outdoor aquatic centers and more. Fitness is just one aspect of who we are, which is definitely not a gym – it’s basically a dirty word internally! Life Time is a high barrier to entry compared to low barrier clubs, and our members choose to come.
Describe the evolution of the brand, from gymnasium to new residences and more. As Life Time grew its clubs from its first built in Eagan, Minnesota, to now more than 155 in 29 states and three in Toronto, many people started training. and working at Life Time. They had settled in our Life Café because their work was flexible. We have adapted by increasing our Café spaces and adding more outlets, then adding more lounge spaces throughout the club. We also got to see the evolution of remote working and knew we were well positioned to create a premium coworking space like no other. We currently have eight Life Time Work destinations, with our premiere in downtown Chicago and Atlanta scheduled for 2022. With Life Time Living, it was a complete reimagining of where and how we live, work. and let’s play. We build them in desirable areas with convenient access to restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and transportation.
To play devil’s advocate, why would anyone want to stay in a gym? When we first announced the concept of Life Time Living, we had a response from several thousand people signing up on our waiting list. Why? Because our Life Time members really love what Life Time offers, and the convenience of everything in one place with access to so many amenities is highly desirable. What a Life Time Village, with our rented residences or “Stay” concept, offers much more than an “apartment gym”. Creating a connected living experience makes life easier in multiple ways: with appointments, meals, classes, training and more. One phrase we’ve heard for years is, “I could live at Life Time.” No kidding, we’ve heard it for years!
How many new residences are under construction? What’s so cool about them? Coral Gables was our first Life Time Living location. Our next locations will be Henderson, Nevada, and downtown Chicago, both open in the spring. 2022. There are a few more in the works for 2023: Burlington, Massachusetts, and Stamford, Connecticut. We have many more possible sites to come. What makes it all so cool is the community that we are able to bring together. I always thought and knew we had cool members at Life Time. So being attractive enough to get people from all over to work, live, play, stay – well, that alone is super cool. Because of the appeal of our concept, we also bring people like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to this community, to name a few.