As fitness movements go, few have been as explosive as the boutique studio concept. One reason is that studios accommodate a range of fitness programming that capitalizes on red-hot lifestyle trends. With programs like yoga, Pilates, cross training, stationary cycling, heart-rate, boot camp, and HIIT, a studio can concentrate on individual instruction and small-group training that allows for more customization and social support, while promising quicker results.
According to the 2017 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, membership in boutique studios climbed 15% from 2015 to 2017, while multipurpose, fitness-only, and corporate/business clubs suffered a decline of 3% during the same time period. Helping fuel this increase is that boutiques attract a younger demographic, with an average age of 30 years old—10 years younger than those who use more traditional clubs.
Some of the most recent success stories in the fitness industry have occurred in the studio segment. Bold-face names like Orangetheory and SoulCycle have enjoyed significant growth in multiple markets. This has inspired larger, multipurpose gyms to create a studio environment within their clubs, many with great results.
So that’s it. Case closed. Open a studio and rake in the cash, right?
Making the Studio Concept Work
“Eighty-one percent of studios close or fail in the first year,” says Ashley Selman, owner of Evolution Trainers in Mountain View, CA. Selman recently conducted an IHRSA webinar, “Make Your Studio Stand Out from the Crowd,” where she shared the lessons she learned while creating a successful boutique club in a hyper-competitive environment.
A former track-and-field athlete, Selman comes from a fitness background and worked as a personal trainer in the Mountain View area for years. When she decided to open her own place, she quickly realized that she lacked basic business training to make her studio concept work.