Philadelphia Business Journal: George Foreman III to open luxury boxing gym in Center City

Philadelphia Business Journal: George Foreman III to open luxury boxing gym in Center City
June 27, 2018 AJ Rich

Philadelphia Business Journal: George Foreman III to open luxury boxing gym in Center City

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Among the office towers and hotels along Market Street in Philadelphia’s Central Business District, the owner of a luxury boxing gym – with a famous last name and a mean left hook – is setting up a new location as a “third space” for Center City workers and residents.

George Foreman III will open EverybodyFights, a luxury boxing gym, at 1900 Market St. Foreman III is the son of Olympic gold medalist, world heavyweight champion and miniature grill entrepreneur George Foreman Sr.

The 12,000-square-foot gym will have four classrooms, two steam rooms, a coffee and juice lounge, and will host about 100 classes per week. The gym is slated to open in the winter of 2019.

Studies show that millennials are spending more on experiences, including gym memberships, and brands such as Nike and Powerade are increasingly using boxing in their advertisements. Philadelphia icon Rocky Balboa will make another appearance in the upcoming “Creed II” later this year.

“I don’t know one mainstream brand that’s not using boxing to market themselves,” Foreman III said. “…Any gym that has half a brain is using boxing.”

EverybodyFights’ first location in Boston has more than 1,500 members, Foreman said, while its second Boston gym has 800 members and its New York location has 500 members, Foreman III said. There are hundreds more infrequent gym-goers, who sign up for classes on occasion.

“Feeding that market in Boston gave us the confidence to try it again, try it again, try it again,” Foreman III said.

EverybodyFights added two more locations – one in Chicago and another in Lexington, Ky. – and plans to open one or two gyms per year over the next five years. The aggressive expansion plan aims to open 22 new locations by 2022, according to a company release.

Foreman III is no stranger to the ring. He had a short but impressive boxing career that ended in 2012 with a perfect 16-0 record. After retiring, he started a gym called The Club by George Foreman III, but shortly after rebranded it as EverybodyFights.

The space at 1900 Market was perfect for creating a “third space” between work and home. Some of the biggest names in fitness now, such as SoulCycle, are in the most convenient and trafficked places in the city, he said, and the future Philadelphia location of EverybodyFights fits that model.

“I can’t have a person walk by three or four great gyms just to get to me,” he said. His closest competition includes a Philadelphia Sports Club location at 1735 Market St. and a few other fitness facilities that dot the CBD, though they’re small and lack a boxing niche.

Boxing gyms in the City of Brotherly Love have a reputation for their grittiness, but Foreman III argued it’s the trainers that make the gym, not the facility itself. He quoted boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who said he would fight in a telephone booth if need be.

“You don’t need a nice facility or a dirty facility to train people to box,” he said.

Boxing training isn’t only learning how to get a mean right hook; it’s a multidisciplinary practice that emphasizes speed, strength and balance. The gym offers classes in working with punching bags, cardio and even yoga. Separating those disciplines can make the training experience less daunting for a newcomer, but they are all available to give a full boxing workout.

“Only 20 percent of what we do is throwing punches,” Foreman III said.

Accommodating both amateurs and professionals requires the gym to have a lot of space, he said. The size also means the location will be able to accommodate as many as 150 people at peak hours and that helps keep membership costs down, he added.

Membership rates have not yet been announced, though other similar gyms charge between $100 and $150 monthly for full access to the gym, discounted classes and personal training sessions and free boxing glove rental.

EverybodyFights will open as many company-owned gyms on the East Coast as fast as it can, but it is also open to franchising to owners who have experience in owning and operating gyms. Foreman III said he hopes to build franchising teams in California and the Midwest to help the company expand.

Expect the Philadelphia location to employ more than two dozen workers, including about 15 trainers.