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Within Reach: Stretching Could Be The Next Fitness Craze

The next possible big boutique fitness concept has already opened four locations, sold 70 franchises across 10 states and seems so simple that you can do it practically anywhere: stretching.

StretchLab President Lou DeFrancisco

Irvine-based StretchLab, an assisted-stretching franchise that opened in Venice Beach in 2015, has opened its fourth location in Laguna Niguel — its first in Orange County.

Concepts that create a live-work-play environment in South Orange County will be discussed Oct. 16 at Bisnow's Future of South Orange County event.

StretchLab is a fitness brand under Xponential Fitness, the company that also owns and operates Club Pilates, Row House and Cycle Bar.

Since opening last month at the Laguna Heights Marketplace, StretchLab already boasts more than 300 members, who are paying $100 to $250 a month to participate in group or one-on-one assisted-stretching sessions with a Flexologist, according to StretchLab President Lou DeFrancisco.

“Right now in the boutique fitness world, everybody is focused on what’s the next greatest workout, what’s the next way I can get my butt kicked and get a great workout, but StretchLab has the opposite attitude,” DeFrancisco said. “It’s not trying to kick your butt. It’s helping you to recover and restore so that you can be the best person.”

DeFrancisco said StretchLab helps individuals such as athletes preparing for their next workout, corporate executives hunched over all day who want more flexibility or senior citizens wanting more mobility.

“Stretching has this wide scope of appeal to teenagers to 90-year-olds and everyone in between,” he said.

StretchLab in Laguna Niguel

StretchLab is among the many boutique fitness chains that have opened in the past few years and are taking over once-vacant retail strips.

In the past 10 years, fitness brands — anywhere from large chains such as 24-Hour Fitness, rock climbing gyms to yoga studios — have leased 8.5M SF in the Greater Los Angeles, Orange County and Inland Empire region, according to CBRE.

Last year, fitness tenants leased 1.1M SF, the highest deal count in the last decade, CBRE reports.

“It is more of an experience very much like the retail sector,” CBRE Director, Research & Analysis SoCal and Hawaii Petra Durnin said. “The days of being on a treadmill or going around and doing reps have evolved.”

Unlike Pilates or yoga, StretchLab mostly focuses on personalized and assisted services to meet clients' stretching needs. The company also hosts group sessions. 

StretchLab only needs about 1,200 SF to operate, making it a perfect size to complement Xponential Fitness’ other fitness brands, DeFrancisco said. He said opening a StretchLab costs about $150K to $225K including the franchise fee, equipment, marketing and training.

“From a real estate perspective, now we can go talk to brokers and landlords and instead of asking for 2K SF, we can say we’re looking for 3K SF because we can add a StretchLab along with a Club Pilates,” DeFrancisco said. “We’ve got multiple brands that we can bring into the market.”

DeFrancisco said the company chose Laguna Niguel because it is a small bedroom community with plenty of retail strips and plazas that are anchored by grocery stores and other major tenants.

"It is about creating a community within these boutique fitness concepts," he said.

Learn more about how these Orange County communities are becoming live-work-play destinations at the Future of South Orange County event Oct. 16 at the Irvine Marriott.