Can Chain Gyms and Boutique Fitness Studios Co-Exist?


Boutique fitness studios are big business. Really big, so big that the ‘national’ chain gyms have taken notice. From Equinox’s majority interest in SoulCycle to Town Sports International’s BFX to David Barton’s partnership with CYC, it’s become clear that chain gyms know that there is something to the ‘experience’ one can have at boutique fitness studios.  

What’s more, while it was once only considered a phenomenon in the US’ largest of cities, boutique fitness studios have been cropping up all over the country. And people are willing to pay for it, but is it at the cost of their traditional gym membership?

Maybe not.  With 15.6% of people who attend classes at boutique fitness studios also being members at big box gyms, there seems to be more room for opportunity than cannibalization. 

There are few who have not heard about the cult-like spinning studio, which is just nine years old and has more than 41 locations nationwide. Despite offering only one type of exercise machine, people love it. Just ask Katie Holmes or Lady Gaga.

Your regular workout routine used to be confined to multistoried fortresses lined with treadmills and weight stations. Now, more than ever before, your workout options are endless, personalized and sometimes reminiscent of a dance party with friends.

SoulCycle was founded on the belief that fitness is more than something that’s just checked off your to-do list, says senior public relations manager Vicky Land. SoulCycle provides a “spiritual” and “emotional” release.

Such release doesn’t come cheap — the pay-per-class studio offers a single class at $34, which can cost more in a week than some chain gyms charge for a month of membership. Yet many fitness mavens find the pros outweigh the price.

“It seems the trend of boutique fitness facilities is drawing people who are willing to pay more for a more interactive exercise experience while the traditional ‘chain gyms’ are trending toward providing access to equipment for less and less

Full Story: Chain gyms are sweating in the rise of boutique fitness studios

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