6 PE deals that leveraged going back to the gym, and other trends of 2022

American Pacific Group, Sentinel and Audax were among the PE firms that took bets on an industry that rebounded after the Covid downturn.

As the pandemic ebbed in 2022, the fitness and weight loss space saw a sizable infusion of private equity cash, as many people abandoned the at-home exercise equipment they purchased early in the lockdowns in favor of going back to the gym. Also up for grabs were fitness-related companies, such as weight-loss clinics and purveyors of energy drinks and health supplements, as well as a fitness program founded by the Hemsworth brother best known for playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For PE firms, the growth potential of the target companies was the common denominator.

PE Hub takes a look back at the most notable deals in this space throughout 2022.

1. APG backs Gym Launch and Prestige Labs

The year began with American Pacific Group investing in two Las Vegas-based companies: Gym Launch, a provider of coaching programs and business training materials for gym owners; and Prestige Labs, a provider of fitness and health supplements. The San Francisco-based, lower-mid-market buyout shop cited impressive ROI and value-added training results as enticements for inking the deal. Also proving to be a no-brainer was the “strong growth trajectory of Gym Launch and Prestige Labs,” said Fraser Preston, founder and managing partner at APG.

Formed in 2016, Gym Launch has helped over 4,500 gyms to date while the four-year-old Prestige Prestige Labs’s product portfolio focuses on supporting high-performance sports nutrition.

2. Goode Partners invests in Jocko Fuel

New York-based PE firm Goode Partners kicked off the Ides of March by making a $30 million bet on Jocko Fuel, a provider of sports and lifestyle nutritional products. Founded by namesake Jocko Willink, a retired Navy Seal officer turned New York Times best-selling author and entrepreneur, the Jocko Fuel brand offers a plethora of consumer products that include clean energy drinks, powders and capsules, all of which were draws for Goode, which has a history of investing in food and beverage brands.

On the transaction, Goode Partner David Oddi heaped a pile of superlatives on Jocko Fuel, praising the company for “developing highly efficacious and great-tasting products to meet evolving consumer demands.”

3. HighPost Capital acquires and merges Centr and Inspire Fitness

The end of March saw HighPost Capital scooping up and merging  Melbourne, Australia-based Centr, a personalized digital health and fitness platform founded by movie actor Chris Hemsworth, and Inspire Fitness, a Corona, California-based provider of fitness equipment.

Publicly enumerating the incentives for the deal, HighPost Capital co-founder, chairman and CEO David Moross called it a “highly attractive opportunity to create a best-in-class fitness platform for health and wellness enthusiasts worldwide.”

Of course, Hemsworth’s fame and popularity didn’t hurt. “Chris is a global icon whose authenticity, passion for fitness, and avid fan base will drive a more engaged global fitness community,” added Moross.

4. Olympus Partners acquires Planet Fitness franchisee Excel Fitness Holdings

In late April, Olympus Partners got industry tongues wagging when it acquired Austin-based Excel Fitness Holdings, a Planet Fitness franchisee from Altamont Capital Partners, for an undisclosed sum. The target company’s breakout potential and expansion were baits for Olympus, which lauded Excel for “marrying the proven Planet Fitness concept with exceptional customer service and operational excellence,” noted Principal Matt Boyd.

5. Sentinel Capital buys Anytime Fitness franchisee Bandon Holdings

The dog days of summer ushered in a similar deal in this space when New York City-based mid-market PE firm Sentinel Capital made headlines in late July that it was buying Anytime Fitness franchisee Bandon. Founded in 2002, Anytime Fitness is a gym franchise, with more than 5,200 clubs in nearly 40 countries and territories. Currently, Bandon runs 213 Anytime Fitness clubs and has more than 140,000 members.

On adding Bandon to its portfolio, Sentinel principal Marc Buan extolled “the Bandon team as they continue to expand through new development and a proven acquisition strategy.”

6. Audax buys Medi-Weightloss

And, in late November, at the start of the holiday season, a period when people forget their diets, Audax Private Equity announced it purchased Tampa, Florida-based Medi-Weightloss, an operator of weight-loss and wellness clinics across 27 states. Buzz Franchise Brands was co-investing alongside Audax as a minority-stake partner. Audax, which targets North American mid-market companies, hailed Medi-Weightloss’ strategic initiatives and outcomes, seeing in both “a compelling opportunity to expand the company’s geographic footprint through new franchise growth and acquisitions that will expand access to care for an underserved and growing patient population,” noted managing director Keith Palumbo.

As long as staying fit and losing weight remain pressing concerns for many people (and doubtless they will after the holiday season), PE Hub expects that deal volume in this area will continue to be robust in 2023. In the meantime, have fun indulging in the eggnog before beginning your New Year’s resolutions.