Madonna launches 'Hard Candy' in Mexico City

Madonna flew to Mexico City on Monday to open the first Hard Candy Fitness club, part of a global chain she and her business partners are unveiling around the world.

More than 700 guests, including most of the club's new members and Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard, attended the opening, along with VIPs hand-picked by the 52-year-old pop music icon.

Named after her last album, the Hard Candy Fitness center is a partnership between Madonna, her manager Guy Oseary and Mark Mastrov, founder and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness - the world's largest privately owned fitness center chain.

The Mexico City gym is set in a lavish, three-story, 3,000 square meter (32,000 square foot) space in the Mexican capital's exclusive Lomas Altas neighborhood.

It offers the latest in cardiovascular equipment and an array of classes including yoga and capoeira - an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance.

The complex also houses a juice bar-cafe as well as luxury locker, sauna and steam rooms.

"Our goal is to create an environment inspired by Madonna's vision and high standards of what the ideal gym would be," Mastrov said in a statement.

Madonna's group said it expects in the coming months to open more fitness centers in Argentina, Brazil, Russia and other unspecified countries in Europe and Asia.

Hard Candy Managing Director Chris Dedicik said Madonna had chosen the Mexican capital for the first gym after she visited the city on a musical tour in 2008 and was charmed by its surroundings and people.

The Hard Candy club is the latest business venture by Madonna, who in recent months has been diversifying her Material Girl brand well beyond the realm of pop music.

Earlier this year, Madonna announced plans to launch, along with her teenage daughter Lourdes, a line of teen clothing called "Material Girl" to be sold at Macy's department stores.

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