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Gym & Fitness: Boutique Fitness Franchises Leading the Way

With classes hitting $30/each and memberships ranging into the hundreds of dollars/month, franchise operators can get up and running with nominal up front investments and be driving strong operating margins in short order.

“More and more of [my friends] are leaving their health clubs in favor of small studio memberships,” confessed Michele Foley, Fitness Editor at pop culture blog PopSugar ,“opting for pay-as-you-go classes at well-known boutique studios” she explained in her recent story How the Rise of Boutique Fitness is Affecting the Business of Gyms.

A few fun facts from the same article sourced from the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the trade association of the fitness industry:

  • Of the 54.1 million people that had a membership to a health or fitness club in 2014, 42 percent were members of a studio

  • The number of studios opened in 2014 showed a 200-percent increase from the previous year

  • During the same period only a 7% increase in new gyms was noted

Meredith Poppler, vice president of media and communications at IHRSA, cites the dramatic growth of studios as two-fold: for owners, the cost of running a small studio is less expensive when compared to the overhead of maintaining a full-service gym, and consumers are looking for more than what big-box gyms can offer — specifically, a more tailored fitness experience.

If you’re worried about the long term outlook behind this trend, know that the segment making the biggest push into studio classes are millennials.  Complementing the demographic appeal is the social nature of the studio experience.

Participants connect with the instructor and classmates in the studio setting building a sense of community and a cycle of reinforcement driving up frequency, commitment and revenues.

 Entrepreneur Magazine wrote that “[more and more, boutique fitness studios are new hot places to hang out with friends. Boutique fitness studios are like the new restaurant scene. It’s not just about burning calories. Instead, it’s all about the experience.”

Boutique gym and fitness operations present compelling opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.  As per the norm, enthusiasm around the space has attracted a mixed bag of operators requiring careful evaluation and selection processes on the part of the potential franchisees, but fortunes are being made in this space by well positioned operators.

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