GoodLife Fitness to expand, considering former Target stores and employees

GoodLife Fitness believes soon-to-be-closed Target locations might help it flex its muscle and expand across Canada — and it's offering job opportunities to current Target employees.

Canadian fitness club encourages former Target workers to apply for jobs

A trainer helps a client at the GoodLife Fitness club in Dartmouth, N.S. GoodLife says it's considering expanding to former Target locations. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

GoodLife Fitness believes soon-to-be-closed Target locations might help it flex its muscle and expand across Canada — and it's offering job opportunities to current Target employees.

The privately held fitness centre operator said it will expand to more than 350 clubs across the country by this spring, and is aiming for 400 clubs by the end of the year.

"The former Target locations provide spacious and convenient locations that would be an excellent space for people to achieve their fitness goals," said GoodLife founder and CEO David Patchell-Evans in the statement.

Patchell-Evans noted that GoodLife has experience converting retail spaces into gyms, having acquired 12 former Eaton's locations in 1999.

Target's Canadian stores are good locations with lots of parking, making them prime candidates for fitness clubs, said GoodLife chief operating officer Jane Riddell in an interview with CBC News.

"We are very innovative when it comes to renovating space and making great looking and great feeling clubs for our members," said Riddell.

A landlord's perspective

From a retail landlord's perspective, a GoodLife fitness club might not be as desirable as a Target store, said Rick Pennycooke, a commercial real estate analyst and president of the Lakeshore Group.

"[GoodLife members are] going there to work out, and then they're going either on to work or going home," said Pennycooke. "They're going there not as a destination to shop, but to do something else."

In contrast, Target serves as an "anchor" store for many shopping centres, intended to draw shoppers in to neighbouring stores.

Some Target locations could also be too large for GoodLife clubs, added Pennycooke.

"If GoodLife wants to take over a good portion of that space, what does the landlord do with the rest of it?"

Job opportunities for Target workers

GoodLife said it's inviting Target employees to apply for jobs, and that it will prioritize meetings with Target workers "whenever possible."

Each fitness club creates 30 to 40 full-time jobs and roughly the same number of part-time jobs, depending on the location and the size of the club, said COO Riddell.

"We know that there are lots of wonderful people who are working for Target right now, and we'd love to have an opportunity to see if there's a great fit with us."

GoodLife currently operates 328 GoodLife Fitness and Fit4Less locations across Canada, including Énergie Cardio and Éconofitness in Quebec.