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Within the fitness world, boutique gyms, which are smaller and specialized fitness studios, have become popular amongst fitness enthusiasts. They offer a more personalized experience in an intimate setting with smaller group exercise classes and take a more hands-on approach to instruction.
The trend toward personalized fitness is one of the main reasons for the rise in fitness boutiques. These gyms tend to focus on group fitness classes such as yoga, Pilates, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). When compared to larger gyms, a boutique fitness center is all about community and creating a positive social atmosphere.
This is the opposite of big box gyms where focus tends to be less on building a fitness community and more on aiming to attain an individual’s fitness goals by working with a personal trainer.
Boutique gyms can sometimes charge higher membership fees when compared to regular gyms and may not have as many amenities or equipment options. However, they are a good option for those looking to enter the fitness scene for an immersive and fun fitness experience.
What Are The Different Types Of Gyms
Whether you’re considering joining a gym or perhaps setting up your own fitness facility, it’s worth mentioning that there a different types of gyms. Let’s look at these in more detail.
Powerlifting / Bodybuilding Gym
A powerlifting or bodybuilding gym tends to cater for those lifting heavy weights, looking to build large amounts of muscle and strength. You’ll likely have access to some machines, but these are more likely to be plate loaded. This is because plate loaded gym equipment can accommodate more weight making them a better option for heavy lifters. You’ll also find heavy dumbbells and lots of weight plates.
When compared to a big box gym, these are smaller and do tend to offer a sense of community amongst their customer base. This, in part, is because the members have common goals in that they plan on competing in a bodybuilding or powerlifting competition.
A CrossFit gym is a facility that focusses on functional training whereby the member would perform specific exercises at high intensity. An example of which is to perform 100 bodyweight squats as part of a set workout within a class. As a CrossFit gym places emphasis on bodyweight exercises, they tend not to have a huge amount of equipment. Instead, they tend to offer racks, CrossFit rigs and freeweights.
24 Hour Gym / Big Box Gym
Big box gyms are the large corporate chain facilities that are usually unmanned and allow access to its members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have much less of a community feel but do offer a wide range of equipment including selectorised and plate loaded gym equipment with cardiovascular machines.
Personal Training Studio
A personal training studio is a small fitness space whereby a member can work with a personal trainer on either a one-to-one basis or in a very small group. They can differ in terms of the niche and offer such fitness-based workouts including boxing, aerobic exercise or strength based workouts.
What Is A Boutique Gym?
A boutique gym is a small, intimate fitness facility with a focus on exclusivity with a community centric business model. These gyms typically have smaller class sizes and offer a more personalized experience, with a focus on a specific type of training, such as indoor cycling.
One of the key benefits of boutique gyms is the ability to cater to specific niches in the fitness industry. They specialize in a range of activities such as yoga, Pilates, strength training, and high-intensity interval training, allowing gym-goers to find a gym that aligns with their specific fitness goals and preferences.
Personalization is another big advantage of boutique gyms, with experienced and knowledgeable trainers providing individualized attention and instruction. Many boutique gyms also offer one-on-one personal training sessions, allowing for a more tailored experience.
A boutique-style gym also fosters a sense of community amongst its members. With smaller class sizes and a more intimate atmosphere, members can get to know one another and form friendships, making the fitness experience more enjoyable and motivating.
However, it is important to note that boutique gyms may come with some drawbacks.
They tend to be more expensive than traditional gyms and may not have as many amenities or equipment options. Additionally, some people may prefer a more traditional gym setting with a larger variety of equipment and classes.
When considering joining a boutique gym, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons and determine if the specialized approach aligns with your fitness goals. While personalized instruction, specialized training, and a sense of community can be appealing, the cost and lack of equipment can be a limiting factor. It’s crucial to do your research before making a decision.
Why Boutique Gyms Are Getting More Popular
Whilst a boutique gym is small, they can react better to current trends meaning they can develop their unique personality and environment.
In contrast to large chain fitness centers, where you are just one of many faceless patrons, and every location should have a uniform appearance, you won’t feel as impersonal and nameless here. This helps you to feel part of a likeminded fitness community with similar goals and aspirations.
Additionally, because group programs often feature fewer students, trainers may develop stronger relationships with members. Because of this, trainers are better placed to develop specific training regimes that are tailored to the needs of their members.
When it comes to paying for fitness classes, the decision is ultimately up to the individual. However, many people who attend boutique fitness studios are willing to spend upwards of $30 per class because of the unique and elevated experience they offer.
One of the key elements that sets boutique fitness studios apart from traditional gyms is the social and energetic atmosphere. The small class sizes and sense of community among participants create a welcoming and inclusive environment where people feel known and valued. The music and atmosphere is carefully curated to enhance the workout experience and keep participants motivated throughout the class.
Will The Fitness Industry Keep Growing?
Whilst the fitness industry remains highly competitive, it continues to grow with new trends emerging year on year. Even though the growth and size suffered a major setback during the Covid pandemic, it’s expected to bounce back quite quickly. In the United States, boutique gyms make up more than one fifth of the gym industry in terms of revenue and the number of studios opening, increased by around 400% since 2010 with almost 35% of fitness-based consumer having an active membership to a boutique gym.
The success and growth of boutique fitness studios can be attributed to several factors, one of which is their ability to offer a unique and personalized experience to customers, which sets them apart from traditional gyms.
Another important factor that often goes unmentioned is the location of these studios. Research has shown that the proximity of a gym to a person’s residence plays a significant role in determining where they choose to work out.
People are willing to travel a short distance to reach a gym and most are willing to drive up to three miles or travel for up to 10 minutes.
The small physical size of boutique fitness studios allows them to be located in a variety of areas and neighborhoods, making them easily accessible to a wide range of customers.
It is due to this flexibility in a location that boutique fitness studios can be found in urban and suburban areas, and this is also the reason why there is still a lot of room for growth in this industry.
However, it’s important to remember that this growth will not continue indefinitely, there will be a saturation point where the competition will increase and prices will decrease, making the business less profitable for operators. Facility build-outs will also likely slow down. But for now, the industry still presents significant growth opportunities.
Benefits Of A Boutique Fitness Studio
Whether you’re looking at joining a boutique gym or perhaps considering opening one, here are some of the benefits to both members and business owners.
Builds A Community
As previously mentioned, boutique gyms tend to focus their offering around one or two types of exercise, such as spin classes. It’s not uncommon for a gym-goer to have their personal preferences with exercise. Some have a preference for cardio whereas others prefer strength-based workouts using resistance.
By joining a gym that centers around a specific exercise you most enjoy, you’ll get to meet other likeminded people who you have something in common with. This makes it a great way of making new friends and feeling part of a fitness community.
When you pair this with a highly skilled, specialized instructor, you get a group of committed people who remain motivated and consequently, attend multiple times per week. Statistics show that 38% of boutique gym members attend between 2 and 3 times per week, much higher than the 17% that attend just weekly. This shows a commitment to attaining their fitness goals.
Starting and managing a boutique studio could be highly profitable if you have a great grasp of business principles, are good with money management, and are adept at marketing.
The average monthly cost for boutique gym memberships with unlimited access ranges from $110 to $360 and if you operate ‘drop in’ sessions, whereby someone can access the gym on an ad-hoc basis, these classes are typically charged at between $15 and $33 per visit. What’s more, boutique gyms have a higher member retention rate when compared to big-box gyms. This sits at just over 75%.
Members Get Individual Attention
Boutique studios are far more intimate than large gyms. The trainers have sufficient time during the small community courses held in a boutique studio to provide one on one assistance. Additionally, participants will probably notice results more quickly, when compared to a corporate chain gym, due to the highly personal approach taken to each member.
Whilst this may sound strange and does very much depend on each individual gym (boutique or otherwise), boutique fitness studios could offer a more hygienic environment for training. This is because they typically have less gym machinery that requires frequent wiping down and fewer individuals coming in and out. Essentially, meaning it should be easier to maintain cleanliness. However, that’s not to say that larger gyms have lower hygiene standards.
This is beneficial for both the member and the gym owner. For the member, if they want to work out undertaking specific exercises, they can select the boutique gym that specializes in their chosen niche.
For the gym owner, by opening a boutique gym that focusses on a specific niche, such as Pilates, you can work to your expertise Not only that, but you can also market yourself and your niche better to clients helping to build a strong brand.
How To Start A Boutique Fitness Studio
Before committing to opening a boutique fitness studio, you’ll need to have a solid business plan including any budget constraints. You’ll need to factor in your knowledge to determine the fitness niche you want to offer and if there is a need for what you will offer. Only then will you know whether you can attract members by appealing to, and fulfilling, their fitness requirements.
A common mistake is investing significant time and money into a new gym without having a proper understanding as to your customer base, their age range, their location and, of course, their fitness goals. There’s little point in opening a spin cycle studio if most people in the local area have no desire for spin classes.
Another vital point to consider is location. Statistics show that most people are willing to travel around 10 to 15 minutes (walking, driving, or cycling) from either their workplace or home to their chosen gym. If your target audience is located within a specific location, you’ll ideally need premises that makes it easier for them to reach. Also think about how much parking you will need for your members. A benefit of boutique gyms is that you’ll be working with a smaller number of people, so rows of parking bays likely won’t be necessary.
Once you’ve chosen your premises, you’ll need to fit it out. This may be extensive, especially if you want to incorporate spa type facilities or showers so be sure to consider your budget as costs can quickly spiral. Before opening, don’t forget about necessary licences and insurance.
How To Do Efficient Marketing For A Boutique Gym
Reaching to a smaller group of people within the local area is going to be easier and more purse friendly, when compared to that of a global marketplace where things get more complicated with language barriers and the size of the customer base.
That being said, you still want to focus your marketing efforts on fulfilling a need of your new (potential) members. Part of your business plan should include market research so you will have a good understanding as to what niche will attract the most members. If there is a desire for your fitness niche in close proximity to your gym, then you need to find the best ways of letting them know about your new business and what you can offer them.
Ideally, your gym will have a unique selling point that helps it to stand out from local competition. This could be your expertise and knowledge or the niche itself. It may even be something like a protein bar where members can purchase a protein shake after their workout, this is a good way of cross selling and generating additional revenue. If you’re going up against the big-box gyms, you’ll need to entice them in a way, so they defect from their current gym and join your gym.
In terms of promotional methods, this can be done either through local social media groups, social media advertising, leaflet drops to residents within a certain vicinity, local radio, or an ad placement in a local publication. The benefit of the local reach is that promotional methods tend to be far cheaper than if you were trying to reach out to the whole country.
A way of encouraging pre membership sign ups is to promote an offer. For example, purchase 12 months in advance at a reduced cost, or buy 4 sessions for the price of 3.
Promote to your potential customer base before you open and once you’ve committed to your business. Don’t do this too early, if something such as the premises falls through, and you’ve marketed your business and location in advance, this won’t get you off to the best start. Also don’t wait until you’ve open. Your monthly costs will come in whether you have members or not.
Remember to consider the limitations on your membership numbers, you don’t want to have 100 members vying to join when you can only accommodate half of that.
Due to the increased interest in physical fitness, boutique fitness studios are growing in popularity. As mentioned above, their appeal is the community aspect and atmosphere. These are two of the primary reasons for people signing up to boutique fitness classes. So, whether you plan on joining your local boutique gym or opening your very own, the statistics for this particular speciality gym are very positive both in terms of growth and member retention, making for an enjoyable exercise program with like minded people or a great little business.