Wellness giant Life Time targets co-working, shopping malls for next act

Founded in 1990 by CEO Bahram Akradi, Minnesota-based Life Time used to be known as a premier health club that operated large gyms mainly in affluent suburbs in Midwestern and Southern states. Its success was memorialized in 2015 when two leading private equity firms, Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital, led a $4-billion deal to take the company private. But rather than retire or move on to new challenges, Akradi chose to remain in his leadership post and continue to build the Life Time brand.

Just a few years later, Life Time, which has always been profitable — even in the depths of the Great Recession — is enjoying double-digit top-line growth, which should enable it to top $2 billion in revenues next year. With the median household income of its members topping $100,000 throughout its 139 clubs, Life Time has sought to build a central relationship with its discriminating clientele by adding extensive health, wellness, spa and sports offerings.

For the company’s next act, Akradi plans to make a big leap into co-working and residential living, and he’s spending considerable time with shopping mall landlords as they look to replace struggling anchor stores with vibrant new tenants. A one-time immigrant who has overcome his fair share of adversity, Akradi understands that he will encounter formidable competitors as he adds new services that are not within the typical scope of a company with fitness roots. But Akradi doesn’t have time to dwell on his boundary-busting ways. Instead, he’d rather talk to you about his Four Seasons-esque vision for his company and his desire to serve a customer’s mind, body and soul at play, at work and at home.