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Life Time Partners with Lululemon to Accelerate Growth in Pickleball

Life Time fitness is betting big on pickleball, America’s fastest-growing sport. The upscale fitness company recently announced a partnership with Lululemon, naming the company as an official apparel partner for Life Time pickleball and tennis. This collaboration includes selling Lululemon apparel online at Life Time clubs and collaborating on key pickleball events. The partnership aims to capitalize on the extraordinary growth of these sports and bring together the best in athletic apparel with the best in tennis and pickleball experiences.

Life Time, founded in 1992, has over 170 “athletic country clubs” across the country. These clubs are seeking creative new ways to get Americans moving again as the fitness landscape has evolved post-Covid. Life Time CEO and founder Bahram Akradi, an avid pickleball player himself, believes that pickleball will be the catalyst to achieve this goal. He stated that pickleball is always packed and continues to grow.

To further expand the popularity of pickleball, Life Time has invested between $50 million and $100 million into the sport. The company has installed new playing surfaces or converted tennis courts nationwide, resulting in over 700 pickleball courts across the country. Life Time has become the largest provider of permanent pickleball courts in the United States. Akradi mentioned that pickleball has brought in 6% to 7% of Life Time’s membership dues, a significant contribution.

In addition to investing in infrastructure, Life Time has partnered with professional pickleball to host nearly a dozen tournaments on their courts. Some of these tournaments have been broadcasted on national television, increasing the visibility of the sport. The company’s commitment to pickleball is evident by its recent unveiling of Manhattan’s largest indoor pickleball destination, featuring seven street-level courts.

Former tennis great Andre Agassi, who recently started playing pickleball, has been appointed as the inaugural chairman of Life Time’s newly formed pickleball and tennis board. Agassi’s role is to elevate the profile, programming, and leagues of pickleball. He believes that the sport will continue to grow exponentially in the next five to seven years due to its promotion of healthy habits, community building, and low entry point for beginners. Agassi hopes that pickleball will eventually become a college sport and be included in the Olympics.

Life Time is not only focused on providing top-notch facilities and professional partnerships but also on improving the skills of its members. The company has partnered with top pickleball player Ben Johns and his brother Collin to offer members 70 instructional videos to help improve their game. This shows Life Time’s dedication to spreading the popularity of pickleball and providing value to its members.

Life Time’s pickleball strategy is already yielding positive results. Although the company’s stock performance has been poor recently, with a 23% decline from March 2023 to March 2024, its first-quarter earnings report showed promising numbers. Total revenue grew by $85 million compared to the previous year, adjusted EBITDA increased by over 20%, and net memberships grew by 38,000. Analysts attribute the stock performance decline to macro, balance sheet, and interest-related concerns but believe that Life Time’s potential is underappreciated.

Overall, Life Time’s investment in pickleball demonstrates its commitment to providing unique and engaging experiences for its members. By partnering with Lululemon, hosting tournaments, appointing Andre Agassi as chairman, and offering instructional videos, Life Time aims to capitalize on the growing popularity of pickleball and position itself as a leader in the fitness industry.

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