Former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, whose name — at least locally — has been more closely linked to artificially buff muscles, is investing in some more traditional forms of fitness.
A-Rod has purchased UFC GYM Kendall and development rights for the creation of more UFC-branded gyms across Miami-Dade County, Rodriguez told the Miami Herald. No word on whether he may take new girlfriend Jennifer Lopez there yet — although the two were spotted at a private Miami gym last week.
In 2014, Rodriguez served a full-season suspension for steroid use before returning for a full season with the Yankees in 2015 and then retiring before the end of the 2016 season. He initially denied using performance-enhancing drugs, until confessing to the use of the banned substances in 2014 and apologizing in a handwritten note a year later.
Rodriguez already has a successful gym business in Mexico, but he hadn’t ventured to the U.S. — and much less to Miami, which was at the center of the steroid scandal.
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As a Miami native, I am thrilled to now expand the UFC GYM brand across Miami.
Rodriguez’s new business deal will take him to Kendall, which has the only UFC gym in Miami-Dade. The gym is a brand extension of mixed martial arts leader UFC, and offers a range of group fitness classes, private mixed martial arts training and fitness techniques inspired by UFC athletes. There are six UFC GYM locations in Florida and more than 100 fitness centers throughout the United States and Canada.
“As a Miami native, I am thrilled to now expand the UFC GYM brand across Miami,” Rodriguez, who is CEO of A-ROD CORP, said in a statement. “The UFC GYM brand represents the best in fitness and, starting with our Kendall facility, all of our members will have the opportunity to transform their lives with some of the most innovative training techniques utilized by the best athletes in the world.”
The Miami location, at the corner of Kendall Drive and 107th Avenue, has a 24-foot octagon, training and cardio machines, battle ropes, agility ladders, a bag room, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu studio and offers youth fitness class. The gym’s pricing puts it about on par with other popular chains, with a standard membership beginning at $49 a month and “champion” membership starting at $89 a month.
That makes it considerably different from Rodriguez’s existing gyms in Mexico, Energy, which are high-end and cater to professionals living primarily in Mexico City. Energy was started in 2011 in partnership with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and has become one of the largest luxury gym offerings in Mexico. There are currently nine locations with more planned.
The purchase marks A-Rod’s move into the U.S. fitness industry, which drew $25.8 billion in revenues in 2015.
In the U.S., the fitness industry has been growing in popularity, drawing $25.8 billion in revenue in 2015, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a trade group. That was an increase of 6.1 percent.
As of Jan. 1, 2016, there were more than 36,000 U.S. health clubs, including YMCAs, community centers and studios, a 4.8 percent bump over 2015. One of the nation’s largest fitness clubs, Equinox, is owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
Adam Sedlack, president of UFC GYM, called the reception to the gym in Miami as “overwhelming.”
“The Miami community has responded enthusiastically to our offering, which has something for people of all ages and fitness levels,” Sedlack said.
A-ROD CORP. also owns Miami real estate construction firm, Newport Property and Monument, a Midwest-Southeast real estate investment and management firm. Rodriguez is exploring new auto dealership opportunities since selling his Mercedes Benz dealership in Texas in 2014.
Miami Herald Business Editor Jane Wooldridge contributed to this report.