To the traditional health club market, boutique fitness studios have proven to be both innovator and disruptor. Membership in the boutique studio segment has grown by 121% over the past five years, compared to a still good 18% growth for the bigger commercial fitness facilities. Despite this disparity, the niche studio fitness movement has been a positive for the traditional health club sector as a whole. As IHRSA’s report states, “…the emergence of the boutique fitness facility segment has been an important engine in the growth of industry membership.”
Emerging HIIT disciplines brought in a functional fitness model that introduced many consumers to weight training, and many of these exercisers have subsequently found their way into mainstream clubs. Same with yoga, cycling, Pilates, boot camp, and other exercise trends that first gained momentum in studios. They’ve all been leveraged by mainstream fitness centers and multipurpose clubs.
While independent studios have served as an entry point for many consumers to join the fitness lifestyle, they’ve also created a hypercompetitive market that has forced many clubs to make significant upgrades in programming, equipment, and design.
But studios haven’t just altered how clubs approach their programming mix and equipment inventory; they’ve also changed consumer expectations. Today’s health club member wants more. More variety. More social interaction. More personalization. More coaching and motivation. And they’re often willing to pay more to get it.