Boutique fitness studios are quickly drawing more and more crowds, becoming the new social hangout scenes. As interest and attendance continue to increase, it seems that the prices are too. Some studios are now charging upwards of $40 a class. Granted you get a killer workout at many of them, there are some that argue the cost is too high. However, it’s not all about exclusivity and appearances. There are legit reasons why many studios are raising their prices.
The real reasons fitness studios charge $40 a class
There is nothing like a skilled instructor, a heart-pumping routine and the exhilaration of completing a tough workout. But at $40 a pop?
That’s the going rate for a single session of the region’s most expensive group fitness class, at Potomac Pilates. And the cost is not too far off from some other popular classes in the Washington area, where pricey studio workouts are starting to rival those in New York and Los Angeles.
In some ways, high-priced classes are a sign that the region’s fitness market has matured. There are now an array of studios and gyms catering to diverse tastes and no shortage of people looking for innovative ways to burn calories. Still, $40? How do you even come up with a number like that?
“We intentionally price our individual class high because we want to discourage single-use clients,” said Reina Offutt Pratt, founder of Potomac Pilates. “We want the person who’s going to make the commitment to come two to three times a week. That’s how you see results.”
Potomac Pilates has tried several pricing models over the years, including making the first class free. But only 20 percent of the people who received a free class returned, so Offutt Pratt switched the introductory offer to a month of unlimited classes for $129.
“I found that if I can convince people to take three or four classes, I can turn them into long-term clients,” she said. “We now have a retention rate of closer to 60 percent.”
Offutt Pratt said most clients buy a membership for $210 a month and come to class eight times a month, which works out to be a lot less than $40.
For Anne Mahlum, founder of Solidcore, asking clients to pay $37 for a drop-in class is a matter of economics.
A Solidcore workout consists of slow, controlled moves on machines called Megaformers, which Mahlum said, cost about $7,000 apiece. Classes require nine to 13 of those apparatus, one for each client.
Locating her studios in some of the District’s most central ’hoods — such as Shaw and Adams Morgan — doesn’t come cheap. Neither does employing 45 part-time coaches. Each of those trainers receives a base pay plus bonuses tied to class turnout. Six of those coaches also work full time running the company’s seven locations in the area.
All of those staffing, real estate and equipment costs factor into the class price, Mahlum said. She noted that classes at her two studios in Minneapolis, where operating costs are much lower than the Washington area, are $4 cheaper.
“When you break down the economics and the quality, our classes are small, you get personalized team training that produces results you’re not going to get at a gym,” Mahlum said.
Full Story: A $40 fitness class? Yeah, that’s a thing.