Is Boutique Fitness Just as Bad as Any Other Addiction?

boutique fitness

Boutique fitness has been the rage for the past few years, but for some people, it’s much more than a fad; it’s an addiction.  And not necessarily a healthy addiction.  For one, there’s the upwards of $30 per class price point.  For another, it’s the over reliance on the sense of belonging, so much that people will ignore other obligations and injuries. 

But for people who swear by these classes, is boutique fitness just as bad as any other addiction?

A few weeks ago, while mindlessly trolling Instagram, something stopped me in my tracks: My friend from high school, Michaela Miller, who is currently working on a master’s degree in public administration from NYU, had screenshot her upcoming SoulCycle schedule. “475 rides in 365,” she boasted of her “SOULiversary,” the birthday of her inaugural class. “Stepping it up with an even STRONGER starting lineup.” After gawking at the fact that she was planning a Wednesday triple—as in three, 45-minute classes in a single day—I shamelessly pulled up my calculator app. Some quick math revealed that my friend’s dedication to cult-loved $34 spin sessions (before the price of shoe rentals and water) could easily run her $16,000 in a single year.

That’s a lot of paper for a full-time student.

Boutique workouts are not exactly new in New York City. Every day it seems that some new craze crops up—and with each iteration comes a new mantra, a new crop of celebrity loyalists, and a new aesthetic to which its followers ascribe. Group fitness culture has become so much a part of the zeitgeist, in fact, that theNew York Times has followed around women who migrate from one studio to another; tentacle businesses, such as pricey fitness concierges, have materialized; and via the fictional Soulstice, where Abbi Jacobson’s character works on Broad City, the flowery language espoused by specialty trainers has become household fodder. But despite our increasing comfort with people paying people to make them move their bodies in tandem, little has been said of the industry’s specific stronghold on its top-tier customers.

Like many women in this hyperspecific demo, 30-year-old Miller unabashedly schedules her life around her fitness regimen. And though it wasn’t love at first tap back—”I was like, ‘Why would I do that? I don’t like spinning. I really don’t like spinning,'” she recalls—after taking Nina Rutsch’s classshe became hooked on the trainer’s take-control-of-your-life ethos. “It’s so much more than a workout,” she says. “At first I was like, ‘Oh, it would be nice to be really skinny,’ but now I don’t even think about that anymore.” For those who are wondering: Even after 475 in 365, the 5’4″ former college lacrosse player says she does not have her “dream body” at the moment. “I’m really strong,” she says, “but the only thing I wish I had is a ridiculous six-pack. That would come if I went to SLT.”


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