Star power

Celebrity-backed fitness chain moves headquarters from California to Austin

Celebrity-backed fitness chain moves headquarters from LA to Austin

Mark Wahlberg F45 fitness
F45 now calls Austin home. Photo courtesy of F45 Training Holdings

A fitness company backed by Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg is muscling its way into the Austin startup ecosystem.

In a June 21 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), F45 Training revealed its headquarters is now in Austin and indicated it plans to become a public company. F45 had been based in Los Angeles.

F45 franchises fitness studios. As of March 31, F45 franchisees operated 1,487 studios in 63 countries. That total includes 518 studios in the U.S. Twelve F45 studios operate in the Austin area, including one at the University of Texas.

F45 aims to eventually bulk up its portfolio to more than 23,000 fitness studios. In the SEC filing, the company says its studios offer “functional 45-minute workouts that are effective, fun, and community-driven.”

The filing lists F45’s headquarters as being at 801 Barton Springs Rd., just south of downtown Austin. However, the company reportedly will occupy a leased 44,000-square-foot office building at South Austin’s Penn Field development as its permanent headquarters.

The company is seeking SEC approval for its common stock to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FXLV. In 2020, F45 racked up revenue of $82.3 million, down from $92.7 million in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Founded in 2013 in Australia, F45 attracted a minority investment from Wahlberg in 2019. Aside from drawing on Wahlberg’s star power, F45 has sealed marketing deals with basketball legend Magic Johnson, soccer icon David Beckham, and golf idol Greg Norman.

“We expect that Mr. Wahlberg’s involvement, leveraging his broad celebrity reach (with over 16 million Instagram followers) and well-known affinity for fitness, will continue to be a key differentiator in helping us to continue to drive growth,” F45 says in the SEC filing.

Wahlberg brings more than celebrity status to F45, though. His other entrepreneurial ventures include the Wahlburgers restaurant chain, the Performance Inspired Nutrition sports supplement brand, sports fashion designer and retailer Municipal Apparel, production company Unrealistic Ideas, and two car dealerships in Columbus, Ohio.

Wahlberg owns almost 1.4 million shares of F45’s stock, equating to a 4.6 percent stake. He also partially controls 46 percent of F45’s stock through MWIG LLC, a fund set up by Key West, Florida-based FOD Capital and Wahlberg. MWIG invested $100 million in F45 in exchange for 10 million shares of stock. FOD, founded by billionaire Donald Ross, also is an investor in Wahlburgers.