Antarctica21 guides having some fun with the Anytime Fitness flag.

When the Magellan Explorer departs on its maiden voyage to Antarctica in November the adventure expedition ship will have one more amenity. Through a joint venture with Anytime Fitness, the custom-built vessel will have an Anytime gym on board for use by guests, marking yet another international territory for the 24/7 fitness franchise.

“Once continent No. 6 came on,” says CEO Chuck Runyon, in reference to Anytime signing an agreement last year to open several dozen locations in Morocco, Africa, “we were like, we’ve gotta knock out No. 7. Really it was us going on the offensive and saying we’re going to have gyms on all seven continents.”

The vessel is being built in Chile, where Anytime already has gyms and vendor partners, notes Runyon, making it easier to ship equipment without the supply chain hassles other franchises can encounter when opening units in remote locations. The onboard gym won’t typically have a trainer on site, but Runyon says when Antarctica21, which operates the ship, plans special cruises Anytime could send staff. The company already has rooms rented for a voyage in December when some team members will have the chance to check it out.

“And I could see down the line using this as a prize for our franchisees, for other people within the company or even a member prize,” says Runyon of sending people on a Magellan Explorer (ship rendering shown at right) cruise. “It’s more than just a one-time thing.”

Anytime, which has more than 4,500 gyms in nearly 40 countries, grew sales 19.2 percent in 2017, to $1.5 billion, and is No. 79 on the Franchise Times Top 200+, our ranking of the largest franchise systems based on systemwide sales. Runyon says that growth is a result, in part of Anytime having “much more of an omnichannel presence” and “getting so much more proficient on those virtual interactions outside the gym,” such as through its consumer app, which focuses on personal training and amplifying connections between clients and coaches.

So with Antarctica checked off, what’s this about outer space? Runyon laughs, but then adopts a more serious tone. “When Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos is going to colonize Mars, we are determined to be the first fitness club on Mars. … This planet needs to be healthy and so does the next one.”

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