Get physical: Shopping centers are being revived by boutique gyms 

    As the national retail industry continues to be disrupted, Baton Rouge’s shopping center landlords and property brokers are seeing one concept pump new life into retail centers: The boutique fitness studio.

    Chains like Orangetheory, Regymen Fitness, Fit 365, Pilates Plus, Evolve Studio, Barre3, Yoga Rouge, Club Pilates and countless others have all entered the local market in recent years. And wherever one shows up, it attracts lease-seeking clusters of smoothie bars, spas and other health-related tenants to the community shopping centers they fill.

    It’s happening with a simultaneous spike in e-commerce activity, forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to deliver their customers experiences that can’t be replicated online. Fitness studios—which offer pricey, but niche classes for cycling, hot yoga and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), among other workouts—are shining examples of the kind of “internet-proof” businesses that once gym-averse landlords now find themselves courting regularly, says Lynn Daigle of NAI Latter & Blum.

    “Ten years ago, it was hard to find them in a shopping center,” says Daigle. “Now, they’re fighting for the same spaces, and brokers are fighting for them.”

    Landlords prefer the concepts to big-box gym chains because they take up much less square footage, while their patrons—usually arriving in staggered time intervals for scheduled classes—don’t gobble up as many parking spaces at once.

    The shopping center has evolved to a gathering place, says Carmen Austin of Saurage Rotenburg Commercial Real Estate, who has leased spaces to five fitness concepts in the past two months, most of which have replaced apparel stores facing disruption from Amazon.

    Solid membership bases also promise more foot traffic, making the studios act like anchors for co-tenants and spurring local interest in the “cluster” retail strategy that’s occurring in urban areas across the country.

    “Some landlords try to curate those types of complementary uses for their centers, where you can work out, grab a smoothie, get your nails done and have a quick, healthy lunch before picking up groceries,” Austin says. “They’re cognizant of that synergy. It’s a natural transition from traditional retail.” Read the full story from the latest edition of Business Report. Send comments to


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