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Anytime Fitness ranked No. 1 global franchise

Entrepreneur Magazine has named Woodbury-based Anytime Fitness as the No. 1 global franchise for the second year in a row as part of the magazine's Top Global Franchise list.

The magazine reviewed the company's size, growth rate and financial strength while also factoring international size and growth rate to rank the company before releasing the rankings June 22.

Averaging more than 300 new gyms each year during the past nine years, the 24-hour fitness chain is the world's largest and fastest-growing fitness chain.

"This designation as No. 1 is a credit to our international franchise development team and our fabulous group of international master franchisees," said Anytime Fitness CEO and co-founder Chuck Runyon in a statement Wednesday.

Following rapid international and North American growth, Anytime Fitness, along with parent company Self Esteem Brands, recently moved to a new $20 million global headquarters — a 80,000-square-foot campus on the northern edge of Woodbury — after spending the past nine years in Hastings.

Anytime has about 3,300 gyms and 2.7 million members worldwide, according to the company. Most recently, the company expanded to Belgium, Sweden, Italy and China. The co-ed fitness chain will also soon open facilities in Colombia, Panama, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, with hopes of opening more facilities in Europe, South Africa and South Korea and Brazil.

"Anytime Fitness was founded on the idea that exercise should be as convenient and rewarding as possible," said Dave Mortensen, Anytime co-founder and president, said in a statement. "We've eliminated all of the most common barriers to healthy lifestyles and, by constantly finding new ways to help our members realize meaningful results, we're well on our way to achieving our goal of helping as many people as possible get to a healthier place."

Anytime Fitness International Operations Director Eric Keller said while there have been some challenges with the co-ed model for conservative Muslim countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia because of laws separating people by gender, solutions like opening two gyms side-by-side for men and women has been one way to cater to all sexes in these countries.

But with plans to offer franchises in Saudi Arabia, Keller said the gyms will likely be male-only at first.

Still, he said he's noticed in his travels abroad more excitement for fitness and health, especially in countries with burgeoning middle classes like India and China, as well countries in Latin America and the Middle East, where the obesity rates have risen sharply in recent decades.

"The world is getting more health conscious," Keller said. "The magic about fitness culture is it works in just about every market."

Anytime finished ahead of Bricks4Kidz, 7-Eleven and Subway for the top-ranked global franchise spot, according to Entrepreneur.

Noting the top 10-ranked global companies, Anytime Vice President of International Development John Kersh said the company's business model works anywhere, which is attributed to much of the chain's success. Kersh added that franchisees are able to make a good living from their investment and have contributed to the company's success. According to Entrepreneur's company profile, those interested in opening an Anytime franchise can expect an initial investment between $62,900 to $417,000. Much of the initial costs, Keller said, depends on the location.

"Whether it's Spain, Japan or the United Kingdom, our franchisees are providing our members with personal service that gets real results," Runyon said. "That personal touch and high level of engagement is what differentiates Anytime Fitness from many other gyms and what has strengthened and grown our brand worldwide."