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CHICAGO-Life Time Fitness is picky about where it opens new facilities, its executives say, but that doesn’t mean they are conservative about the company’s overall growth plans. The Eden Prairie, MN-based firm, which has 49 units in nine states, could eventually add up to 200 more health clubs across the country, management said here at William Blair & Company’s annual Growth Stock Conference.

“We will go to wherever the market allows us to go,” says Bahram Akradi, Life Time’s chairman, president and CEO. “We are as intense in site-selection as anyone we’ve ever seen,” he adds.

Life Time has eight new facilities planned to open this year and the same number in 2007. To date this year the company has opened units in Minnetonka, MN; Columbia, MD; and Allen, TX. For the remainder of the year, stores are planned in Salt Lake City; Overland Park, KS; Alpharetta, GA; as well as two in the Phoenix area.

Most new Life Time units are around 110,000 sf, though the company will take a spot as small as 40,000 sf, depending on the area. Management requires about 160,000 people in a six-mile radius to open a store. A club needs three years to mature and about 5,500 members to break even.

During Life Time’s latest quarter, which ended March 31, same-unit revenue increased 7.7% year-over-year on a total revenue jump of 29.2%, to $115.4 million. Net income shot up 28.5%, to $10.4 million, and total memberships grew 17.9%, reaching 383,000.

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