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Major expansion plans for Fitness First

Some positive news for the health and fitness sector with one of it’s major players putting themselves back on the map with some substantial reinvestment.

Fitness First plans to invest £20million in its 85 British gyms, less than a year after it was on the brink of collapse.

The health club operator had slumped to a £672million loss last year as it struggled under a £550million debt burden.

The group was taken over by two US hedge funds, but not before creditors had to write off some debts and about 100 gyms were closed or sold to rivals.

Now the chain, headed by former InterContinental Hotels boss Andy Cosslett, is aiming to attract customers by introducing fitness technology, including ‘virtual’ personal trainers, air showers and hot yoga studios. It is getting rid of many fixed-weight machines in favour of free weights.

Initially, 11 clubs will be renovated with the rest to follow.

Martin Seibold, UK managing director, said: ‘High-calibre fitness staff, unique equipment and a more interactive member experience will put us at the forefront of the UK fitness industry.’

Last year a debt-for-equity swap saw its private equity backer BC Partners lose almost all of its investment and control was handed to two US hedge funds, Oaktree Capital Management and Marathon Capital.

The chain is now debt-free and is looking to expand once more in the UK and overseas, with about £100million earmarked for investment.

Souce: Daily Mail

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