Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.
BRANDING + SPONSORSHIPS
NFL team-branded fitness centers are a trend in the exercise space, and the San Francisco 49ers have become the league’s third club to jump in the hot tub, forming a joint venture with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov.
49ers Fit, situated in a San Jose outlet mall, should open by August, team President Al Guido said. It follows Cowboys Fit, which made its debut in May 2017 as part of the Dallas Cowboys’ new training facility in Frisco, Texas. Bears Fit, a free-standing facility similar to 49ers Fit, should open by the end of the year in Vernon Hills, Ill., a north Chicago, suburb, according to local reports.
Mastrov, who sold 24 Hour Fitness in 2005 for $1.68 billion and is a co-owner of the Sacramento Kings, is an investor in all three fitness centers.
49ers Fit fees have not been determined, but the monthly rate will run about $49 a person as a tie-in to the team’s brand, a price much lower than those at other fitness centers in the Bay Area, team spokesman Roger Hacker said.
The team planned to send emails to season-ticket holders this month announcing 49ers Fit, as well as launching a website with greater details on the venture. There will be benefits and amenities for those customers over what typical members would receive, Guido said.
Guido would not confirm whether 49ers players would use the fitness center, but there will be some connection between them and 49ers Fit members. It could take the form of training programs customized for players made available for members, special appearances and guest instructors from among 49ers alumni.
“We’ve discussed all those things,” Guido said. “As we move forward, there will be specific details about our alumni and strength coach and how they’re integrated into the program schedule.”
Apart from the fitness component, at all three facilities, the Cowboys, Bears and 49ers have space set aside to sell merchandise branded for the respective fitness centers.
“I would love to see kids and adults wearing 49ers Fit gear around town,” Guido said. “It’s a cool way to express the 49ers brand without having to buy a ticket to the game.”
The joint venture is the next step for extending the 49ers’ brand outside of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The team expects to open multiple 49ers Fit centers over the next several years across the Bay Area. Considering the Oakland Raiders leave for Las Vegas and a new stadium in 2020, the East Bay could be a possibility, although Guido would not disclose additional sites.
But the opportunities are there to expand after the 49ers saw Mastrov develop the model.
“Mastrov had his partnership with Magic Johnson [and Shaquille O’Neal] with 24 Hour Fitness, and the UFC branded gyms have been a huge success for him,” Guido said. “We felt we could use the 49ers brand across all demographics, with fitness as the platform.”
Mastrov was noncommittal when asked whether he plans to open more NFL team-branded fitness centers.
“I don’t think there’s a goal. A lot of it is just relationship-driven,” he said. “I got a chance to spend a lot of time with Al and (team owner) Jed (York) and really like those guys. I grew up in the Bay Area and have been a 49er fan almost my entire life, so it’s a chance to work with a brand that I admire and respect.”
The venture came together after discussions over the past few years. The most challenging piece was finding a space in the Bay Area that was big enough, Guido said. After looking at about a dozen sites, they found a vacant building at Westgate Center Outlet Mall, whose anchors include Target, Nordstrom Rack and Walmart Neighborhood Market.
“It’s a prime area for our season-ticket base,” he said.
Mastrov will run the 36,500-square-foot facility, which is about half the size of Cowboys Fit. 49ers Fit features include a 100-yard artificial turf field for multiple training exercises and a wide variety of exercise equipment, plus yoga and Pilates classes and a recovery space with ice baths to help members relieve the aches and pains associated with intense workouts.
The recovery aspect is something most fitness centers do not typically offer and should help 49ers Fit stand out among its competitors, Guido said. There will also be a kids’ workout space themed for the 49ers.
“We’re going to offer something fresh and new in the way that we design and develop our programming inside,” Mastrov said. “It’s geared more toward what (full-time) athletes train with, so aspiring athletes and weekend warriors will have fun training on pieces of equipment they’ve probably never used before.”
49ers Fit will have a staff of about 75 people, Mastrov said.
Long term, 49ers Fit could integrate with the team’s sports rehabilitation centers. The first 49ers Rehab and Performance Physical Therapy Center with Monterey Spine & Joint opened in Monterey, Calif., in September. The partnership with Wellstrong medical services combines MS&J’s physicians with the 49ers’ training staff to provide care to the general public. There have been initial talks about consolidating the two ventures, but nothing has been completed, Mastrov said.