Top US gym chain heads for Britain

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The Independent Online

Flabby Britons will soon be invited to get in shape, US-style, when one of America's high-power gym brands opens up in the UK.

Equinox, the upscale fitness chain familiar to any frequent visitor to New York, is scouting locations for two gyms in London, and plans to open its doors next year before extending the chain throughout Europe.

The chief executive, Harvey Spevak, expects Equinox to attract the same "active, type-A personality" customers as it does in Manhattan and in the other US urban areas where it has become a fixture. With locker rooms stuffed with Kiehl's products and onsite luxury clothing stores, the company dodged the downturn that afflicted mass-market fitness chains, freeing up cash to invest in international expansion.

Mr Spevak said Equinox would be "in a category of one" when it opens in the UK. "We have always had a great interest in bringing Equinox to the London market first, because of the great demand from locals and expats who are familiar with the brand. There is nothing comparable in the London market." The company opened its first location on Manhattan's Upper West Side in 1991 on 23 September – the autumnal equinox – and now has 18 clubs in Manhattan, and dozens more in cities from Hollywood to Washington.