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Lenders to Fitness First have agreed a waiver and forbearance covering the anticipated April 6 covenant breach, as well as the non-payment of interest on March 30, according to sources.
AlixPartners is working on the new business plan for the company, and constructive discussions between Oaktree, the company and sponsor BC Partners are ongoing, sources added. As reported, Oaktree Capital and Marathon have amassed a position of more than two-thirds of the debt, buying up paper from a large number of lenders opting to sell out of the name, sources said. Oaktree is offering new money of ?75-100 million, likely on a super-senior basis, to shore up the company’s depleted liquidity reserves. Fitness First was acquired from Cinven by sponsor BC Partners in 2005 for ?835 million, which put in equity worth 41%. Dubai-based Landmark Group has acquired the Fitness First franchise business in the MENA region, through its investment arm, Landmark Investments. The deal includes the complete buyout of the business from current franchisee Awwal Fitness.
The Mid-East Franchise Business presently operates 16 Fitness First outlets in Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Landmark Group said it intended to absorb all employees of the existing Fitness First outlets in the Middle East.
In the wake of the London 2012 Paralympics, there has been a big increase in demand from the less able to become more involved in sport and exercise, or at least that is the theory. In this, the first of two articles on disabled access in UK gyms, we’re going to look at the record of some of the country’s biggest gym chains.  Next week we’ll be bringing details of the quality of access in some more stylish private gyms. In many cases gyms were found to be ‘broadly accessible’ in that they complied with disability discrimination legislation which sets standards that they are legally obliged to meet but beyond that they did little to help. But that was over six months ago, before the ‘Paralympic legacy’ had had the opportunity to kick in.
It says on the website of Virgin Active Health Clubs that “everyone’s welcome at Virgin Active. Paralympic sprinter, Sophia Warner, not only uses Virgin Active but is also a spokesperson for the gym chain. It sounds like they have put some effort into making their health clubs accessible.
Unfortunately, at this stage, Fitness First have not replied to our questions about their disabled access. A good place to find out which gyms do have accessible equipment is the Inclusive Fitness section on the website of the English Federation of Disability Sport.
If you have anything you want to say on this issue then comment below, tweet us or drop us a comment on our Facebook page. Fitness First has launched a new brand identity, strategy and repositioning that is aiming to disrupt the gym industry and return the business to growth.
CEO Andy Cosslett said: “Our ?225m investment is a statement of how serious we are about rewriting the rules of the fitness industry.

Two years of research, trials and collaborations with experts in psychology and fitness have helped define Fitness First’s new corporate philosophy. A launch poster and press campaign can now be seen across London throughout January, sharing the new rules of fitness. If you're a designer wanting to submit your work, click on the ‘SUBMIT YOUR WORK' tab above.
Fitness First is a premiere training facility that provides personalized training in a private, non-threatening, comfortable yet stimulating atmosphere. The earnings drop came as revenue slipped 1 per cent to $339.6 million, halting almost a decade of stellar growth since the company entered Australia in 2000. The waiver is in place through April 24, providing breathing space for the borrower as work on the company’s restructuring takes place. In return Oaktree is understood to be considering a range of restructuring options, potentially including a full equitisation of the debt, according to sources. The debt was shifted to an all-senior structure and repriced in 2007, with total debt worth ?622.5 million. Sources suggest that the business requires an intensive overhaul in order to turn it around. But for now, our focus is on the bigger companies who we got in touch with to find out about what they’re doing to make their gyms more inclusive. Although over two thirds of disabled people surveyed said that they would like to do more exercise, only 12% of people asked predicted improvements would take place to fulfill the Paralympic legacy. There are roughly 11 million disabled people in the UK, but many gyms appeared to be doing very little to help them. With this in mind, we’ve been asking some of the UK’s biggest gym chains about what they do to make their gyms accessible.
Still, it’s necessary to call ahead to find out more about your local Virgin Active because the majority of gyms have some or all of the requirements for a less able member but not all of them do (although the same could be said of any and every gym). The fact that they have worked with their less able customers particularly shows that they seem to be approaching accessibility in a sensible way. Our strategy aims to deliver a new approach to fitness that won’t get you into fitness for a matter of weeks but naturally introduces fitness into your life.
The transformation begins in London this week with 19 clubs upgrading with the new brand signatures.
This will be followed by global roll-out of the new brand, including Australia and Asia, later this year. We specialize in the areas of strength training, conditioning, flexibility, and nutritional advisement through the SEE-FIT training system.SEE-FIT was developed by Fitness First to accomplish your fitness goals with one or two intense 30-60 minute sessions a week. Net profit fell by a third to $28.5 million, dragged down by asset write-downs for ''non-performing clubs'' and depreciation expenses to reflect a change in the estimated useful life of its club fit-outs.
The chain opened just one new club over the year, taking its total number to 93.Fitness First is majority-owned by the London private equity firm BC Partners.

Plans to IPO the business last year fell through, and the company has since experienced a sharper-than-expected fall in EBITDA, which has lead to covenant pressure. At the time, BC Partners presented a three-year plan and covenant reset to lenders, and offered to inject ?50 million of new equity to fund the capex requirements for 2011 and 2012. Last summer the charity, Leonard Cheshire Disability, surveyed Britain’s gyms to find out about their disabled access. We asked Fitness First, LA Fitness and Virgin Active what they have been doing since London 2012.
They have a ranking system of accreditation based on how much a gym has done to improve the inclusivity of its access. Our primary goal is to showcase identity design from around the world; we want to give designers the opportunity to share and publicise their creative work online. We want to see iterative sketches, including discarded preliminary and prefinal designs, wherever possible. BC is reportedly seeking to list the international fitness group, which also runs gyms in Britain, Germany and some Asian countries, as early as next month on the Singapore exchange in an initial public offering valued at up to $S700 million ($550 million). Gyms which meet their criteria are rated as provisional level (for gyms beginning to consider and work towards meeting the needs of disabled customers), registered level (for facilities that are proactive in on their journey to being more inclusive) and excellent level (for those who show outstanding commitment to being inclusive). How do the statements we received (or didn’t receive) from the major gym chains relate to your experiences with them? Partly as a result of this, only 18% of disabled adults undertake physical activity for more than 30 minutes a week, compared with 38% of non-disabled adults. When we spoke to them they told us that they “provide an inclusive environment for people of all abilities, across over 100 sites in the UK.
Australia has been one of the strongest performers in its network.The country's lacklustre results coincided with a management reshuffle.
They discovered most gyms had inaccessible changing rooms, steps, poor staff training and a lack of usable sports equipment. Please get in touch with us with any stories on this, whether they are negative or positive, we want to know if the disabled access in major gym chains is better or worse than expected.
Consumer confidence is on the wane, and many people have switched from gym contracts to less expensive options such as jogging or cycling, IBISWorld said. It is not alone - this month the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners took a controlling stake in Richard Branson's fitness chain Virgin Active, which is also pushing into the market.

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