Anytime Fitness opens new headquarters in Woodbury

The new world headquarters of Anytime Fitness brings signature development to our city.

The interior of the new Anytime Fitness headquarters features a juxtaposition of exposed duct work, beams and simple organic materials with posh light fixtures, bold prints and modern furnishings.

Anytime Fitness has built its franchise on understanding the need for flexibility with gyms open 24 hours a day, and has designed its new world headquarters to foster the same cultural value among employees. Completed in March, Woodbury is now home base for the Minnesota-born company, which claims to be the world’s fastest growing health franchise with more than 3,100 gyms and 2.7 million members.

The gym’s parent company, Self Esteem Brands, which also owns Waxing The City, a chain of body waxing salons, had outgrown their Hastings-based office, and developed a 38-acre parcel of land on the southwest corner of I-94 and I-494 on Weir Drive. The new campus consists of a state-of-the-art, 80,000-square-foot building, outdoor gathering space and more than a mile of hiking and biking trails through the surrounding natural wetlands.

“We are very excited about the nature around us and the ability to have walking meetings around our trails. This space gives so many opportunities for our employees to collaborate,” says Chuck Runyon, co-founder and CEO of Anytime Fitness. “Woodbury has so much to offer and we’re excited to be here.” Anytime was ranked No. 1 in Minnesota Business Magazine’s “Top 100 large companies to work for” four years in a row (2012–2015) and No. 1 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Franchise 500” list in 2014 and 2015.

The location houses corporate operations for Anytime Fitness and Waxing The City, as well as ProVision Security, which sells and ships proprietary components to Anytime Fitness locations (such as computers, cameras and key fobs), and Healthy Contributions, which processes payments between health insurance companies and fitness clubs.

“We’ve built this building to support more brands; we believe we are a franchise model that holds three to five brands in the next five years,” says Jennifer Yiangou, vice president of operations for Anytime Fitness and Waxing The City. “We are looking for companies who align with our idea of wellness and to improve the self-esteem of the world.” The 177 employees at the former Hastings location have relocated to Woodbury, with 50 from St. Paul, and they anticipate workforce growth upwards of 400 total employees.

The project took 10 months of design and was managed by a team at BWBR Architects, led by principal Brian Buchholz. Construction was led by D.J. Kranz over 18 months and was completed in March.

“A lot of credit has to go to the client; they really understood the value of design, that it had meaning, purpose and value,” Buchholz says. “Anytime Fitness really wanted to do a lot of exploration in what is the future of the workplace and the environment that current employees could work as well as millennials. We spent time visiting different work environments.”

What they landed on was an open concept design built to maximize the natural landscape. Buchholz describes the design as “sophisticated industrial,” which is achieved by a juxtaposition of exposed duct work, beams, and simple organic materials with posh light fixtures, bold prints and modern furnishings.

“It’s a lot of very open space and it’s about movement,” Buchholz says. “We call it a kinetic workplace. People can pick up and move their work space. They can get up and go to a stand-up work station. They can sit in an open cubicle. They can go into a private space and do work. There are lots of choices as to where they work, how they work and how they interact.”

Anytime Fitness co-founders Dave Mortensen, president and Chuck Runyon, CEO.

The design also centered around five key concepts: heart, mind, muscle, nature and soul, each represented by construction materials, color and design elements throughout the space. Yiangou, who led a campus committee of seven employees who worked on making selections for the space, explains the concept: “Heart is about promoting empathy. Mind is all about training, to never stop learning. Muscle is about taking care of our body. Soul is the way we stress a work-life balance, and nature is really about the space and sense of well-being. We are very drawn to opportunities of the nature around the property.”

The workstation walls are low and conference rooms are glass to maximize the natural light. “Every employee has a great view,” Yiangou says. “The executive wing also has a balcony overlooking the wetland trails. Chuck and Dave [Mortensen] have the best seat in the house.”

“We invested a lot in technology,” Yiangou continues. There are three walk rooms with treadmill desks and Skype rooms. The building also has an “IT Task Bar,” which is a walk-up technology service station for employees. The training wing offers large rooms that can be reconfigured for breakout sessions.

A grand staircase opens upon the sophisticated commons area that looks like it belongs in a modern boutique hotel. Anytime Fitness employees and trainees can meet in the cozy lounge decorated with a two-story feature wall of barn wood that offers peek-through windows from the work stations on the second floor, a long sleek fireplace and a large expanse of windows which bring in views of the outdoors. Other meeting spaces include multiple coffee bars and night club-style private booths off the commons area where you can grab lunch or take a collaborative meeting and also plug in your laptop.

“I think what our employees are most excited about is our 2,800-square-foot gym; we have four individual-use restrooms with showers,” Yiangou says. “That’s a major perk for people, and the gym has everything a normal Anytime Fitness has, including a group exercise studio where you can select a class through virtual class kiosks. We have a Waxing The City training room where our employees and friends can be waxed, which is another nice perk. It’s not uncommon for emails to go around such as ‘Brazilians at 1 p.m. today.’” Other fun offerings such as yoga classes, kayaking outings and seminars on fashion are designed to foster that work-life balance. “We’re very flexible. We encourage our employees to take a break,” she says.

The design also includes a room for nursing mothers; a workplace market for fresh sandwiches, salads and healthy beverages; a snack cart; a store to purchase corporate gear and even a tattoo room. “Every month we have a tattoo artist come in,” Yiangou says. More than 3,000 people in 10 countries sport the Anytime Fitness purple “Runningman” logo tattoo—the company reimburses anyone who gets one. Outdoors, there is a large patio with two fire pits, and a system of outdoor gym equipment. “It’s so nice, we’re never going to want to leave this place,” Yiangou says with a smile.

Not only did this project bring hundreds of jobs to the Woodbury community over the 18 months of construction, but it also means lots of additional revenue for local hotels and businesses, and added job opportunities. “We have at least 50-100 franchisees in town each month as well as international business,” Yiangou says. “They will be staying at the local hotels and frequenting all the restaurants. And we have over 50 vendors who come in for our monthly trade shows, who will also be frequenting the local establishments. Our employees are so excited to have great restaurant choices now in Woodbury.”

City officials are also recognizing the Anytime headquarters as a signature development for Woodbury. “Anytime Fitness is bringing more than 225 new quality jobs to the community, enhancing Woodbury’s reputation as a great place to work,” says Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens. “We are thrilled to welcome the Anytime Fitness corporate headquarters to our community. Their corporate mission to enrich lives through better health, convenience and community complements the numerous year-round recreational and wellness activities that Woodbury has to offer.”

Chief content officer Michelle Haubrich, vp of franchise support for
Waxing The City Stephanie Coffey, vp of operations Jennifer Yiangou,
general counsel Meredith Bauer, chief marketing officer Stacy Anderson
and vp of international support Libby Crooker in the executive board

Anytime Fitness Female Execs

Co-founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen feel very strongly that what has made their company exceptional is the roles played by an extraordinary team of female executives. “Not only is franchising a male-dominated industry, but so is fitness,” says Mark Daly, national media director for Anytime Fitness and Waxing The City. “So it’s very unusual–and no accident–that Anytime Fitness has grown so quickly and successfully due to the skills and creativity demonstrated by our female leaders.”

“We are thrilled to welcome the Anytime Fitness corporate headquarters to our community. Their corporate mission complements the numerous year-round recreational and wellness activities that Woodbury has to offer.” —Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens