A country club without golf? The Ritz Carlton of YMCAs? A spa resort minus the palm trees? It’s hard to find a perfect analogy for Life Time Fitness – the “healthy way of life company” – that plans to put one of its mammoth recreational facilities in Wayne.
But be warned, Main Line health clubs, fitness studios, spas and salons: Life Time is known as “a category killer.”
A Minnesota-based company with 117 locations and counting, Life Time wants to build its first Pa. facility at the corner of Swedesford and Old Eagle School roads, across from the Marriott Courtyard and within view of the King of Prussia Wegmans.
Assuming it gets an OK from Tredyffrin Township, Life Time and a separate upscale daycare center chain will take over the corporate campus of Saint-Gobain (Certainteed), which is moving to East Whiteland.
Four buildings will be bulldozed; two huge ones will go up: a three-story 140,000 sq. ft. brick/stone/glass Life Time Athletic (the company’s premium brand) and a 40,000 sq. ft., one-story Children’s Learning Adventure.
Bucking the “boutique” fitness studio trend, Life Time aims to be all things to all people – an enormous, one-stop shop for exercise, health & wellness, socializing and getting gorgeous.
Among its offerings:
- Five dedicated workout studios including a “concert quality cycling theater,” yoga studio and group exercise rooms for “signature” Life Time programs, along with favorites like Insanity, Zumba and Body Shred.
- Indoor swimming, squash, tennis, racquetball, volleyball and Ultimate Hoops basketball leagues and running clubs.
- A Kids Academy offering sports lessons and enrichment activities. Spanish Immersion, anyone?
- An “outdoor aquatic complex” with a 66,000 sq. ft. zero-depth entry pool, two water slides, a fountain, a bistro, a lap pool, and deluxe shade canopies for lounge chairs. (It goes without saying that there’s a humongous indoor pool, too.)
- A LifeSpa offering a full complement of salon services (8 hair chairs, 4 nail chairs), therapeutic massages, and “skin fitness” assessments and treatments. (Typically, LifeSpas are open to non-members, too.)
- A 75-seat LifeCafe selling healthy “powerhouse” meals and snacks to eat in or take out – as well as a place to catch up on e-mails.
- On-site physical therapy, chiropractic, weight loss and “D.Tox” services.
- Signature community events like the Esprit de She “social fitness” gatherings for women, Life Time Tri, Turkey Day 5K, Vino and Vinyasa nights, “Yoga and Van Gogh” paint parties, and Spooktacular and Reindeer Games kids’ holiday happenings.
- Swanky locker rooms (including one just for families) appointed with cherry cabinetry, limestone and granite countertops.
“We use the finest fits and finishes and our offerings are second to none,” Life Time spokeswoman Natalie Bushaw tells SAVVY. Walking into a Life Time lobby, she said, is like entering a “posh hotel where every team member greets you by name and knows what you’re passionate about.”
So what can you expect to pay for all this good-for-you, personalized luxury? Monthly membership fees will be “in the low $100s” for individuals and “in the low $300s” for families, according to Bushaw. An off-site sales center will sell pre-opening memberships.
The company hopes to attract up to 5,000 members. But Bushaw assures me the place “will feel buzzy, not busy.” There will be “ample parking” and the studios will be so spacious and well stocked, “you won’t find people waiting to use equipment.”
To keep all those members happy, Life Time will hire 250 to 300 staffers, all of whom have to become “Life Time” certified. (Fitness instructors/trainers must already have two additional certifications.)
According to Bushaw, Life Time sought a suburban Philly presence and settled on Wayne because it has the right demographic and “psychographic” profile – it’s “upwardly mobile, economically strong, community-focused and growing.” (The company also considers its recently opened Mt. Laurel, N.J. facility a suburban Philly site.)
Naturally, a project of this magnitude will take a while.
Sources tell SAVVY that the traffic, storm water and open space issues raised by township planners are fairly typical and shouldn’t present too high a hurdle for Life Time to clear in the next several months. After Tredyffrin greenlights the project, figure another two years before the grand opening.
It wasn’t too long ago that the western Main Liners had few fitness options. After Paoli Health & Fitness closed, you worked out at either the Y or at Club La Maison.
Eventually, the local exercise scene evolved with the times. Today, there’s a boutique space for every flavor workout – barre, yoga, plank, CrossFit, Pilates, cycling, Mojo, even parkour – plus multi-faceted studios like Purenergy and Fit Fire. With Life Time looming large, you have to wonder how many will be left standing. Survival of the fittest, indeed.