Among the most visible fitness studio trends in the last few years is the growth of boutique fitness studios. What was once an expensive pastime for the wealthy, or the fitness-obsessed folk has now gone mainstream. Boutique fitness studios have become easily accessible for anyone who is thinking not just about muscles or losing weight but also about the bigger picture – WELLNESS!
‘Fitness’ or ‘wellness’ is a subject matter that is in a state of constant flux. Thanks to advances made in technology and evidence-based research, the industry is continually pushing out recommendations. Science can now tell what the optimal activity one should pursue in a fitness studio is, depending on their fitness goals or objectives.
A pioneer in the field of health & fitness publications, the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) studies the ongoing patterns in exercise around the world. It publishes a white paper every year to discuss the top trends in fitness across the globe.
In this post, I will guide you not only through the top 7 fitness studio trends but also on how to differentiate between a genuine ‘trend’ and a ‘fad.’ These insights will broaden your horizons as a fitness studio enthusiast and will also help you understand the business side of ‘training to be fit’ a bit better.
Fitness Studio Trend #1: Rise Of The Boutique Fitness Studios
There is a firm affinity among fitness professionals for the shark-infested waters of entrepreneurship. Not only does this leap of faith help them realize their dreams, it also adds a positive contribution to the local community. The first top trend we are going to look at among fitness studio trends is the rise of boutique fitness studios.
|Boutique Fitness Studio Feature||Why It Is A Top Trend|
|Sized more or less like a small gym||It’s all about the experience at a boutique fitness studio|
|Limited number of exercises or activities, e.g. Soul Cycle, Yogaletes||Consumer can choose their favorite fitness modality|
|Limited class size||Fun, intense and accountability|
|Personalized atmosphere||You are paying a premium, but you get to workout with similarly motivated people|
|Premium price tag||You probably enjoy your sessions with your trainer and group and look forward to classes|
Participation in boutique fitness studios has more than doubled in one year from 2018 to 2019 from 21% to 51% according to research from IHRSA. There are also newer boutique fitness studios and chains cropping up more than ever.
If you are a boutique fitness studio owner or in the process of starting a studio, do check out StudioGrowth. After being frustrated with bulky and expensive fitness booking software, we built a simple yet powerful class management system for boutique fitness studios. Give it a try.
Fitness Studio Trend #2: Growth Of Fitness Franchises
Similar to the growth of boutique fitness studios, franchise growth is another top trend among fitness studio trends. Existing franchisees are opening newer branches at a staggering rate of 300% per year since 2015, according to a popular fitness industry-focussed investment company.
A combination of an insatiable desire to be healthy and a favorable funding environment has so far fuelled the growth of franchises to a great deal.
There will come a time when the market gets saturated with gyms and fitness studios. This saturation will lead to extreme competition and lower prices and lower profitability.
However, boutique studios will continue to thrive as they solve the problem of the last mile. Boutique studios serve local communities where gyms and franchises cannot penetrate due to capital constraints. People eventually will settle for concepts that give them a better and holistic experience.
Fitness Studio Trend #3: Consumer Adoption Of Wearables
Wearable technology that measures various fitness and health-related data is a de-facto top trend among fitness studio trends and has been a fast-growing trend in fitness since 2015. Fitness studios are leveraging this trend to provide concepts incorporating wearables.
Wearable technology can provide services that include
- Heart rate monitoring
- GPS tracking
- Calorie intake tracking
- Sleep times, waking times, sitting times
- Personalized recommendations.
Wearable technology is now commonplace and is also readily available. Another rapidly evolving market, there are surprises in store with almost every new product launch.
|Wearable Use Case In Fitness Studios||Why It Is A Top Trend|
|Can measure outcomes of any given exercise routine such as Heart rate, number of steps, distance covered, energy burnt and duration of continuous sleep||Some very useful functionality and good-looking options available in the market. There is a school of thought that a digital wearable could be a better accessory than a regular watch|
|Can help to make correlations between the measurements and possible medical conditions that can be used for basic health evaluation||Boosts self-awareness and helps people adopt a healthier and active lifestyle. This directly contributes to a feeling of mental wellness as well|
|A great accessory in promoting awareness and the need to exercise and maintain good overall health||The functionality is ever-growing. There are popular models such as the Apple iWatch that can directly interface with emergency services if it senses that you’ve had a nasty fall or if you are incapacitated|
It is now clear that wearables are continually monitoring your health and fitness data. It is natural to think whether your personal (health) data is safe!
The truth is there are no hard guarantees. You can read the fine print and terms of agreement twice over, but there will always be a catch that third parties could get access to your data. Such third parties could be insurance companies or health care services providers, but the question will always remain. Who owns your private health-related data?
Despite the reservation, our recommendation is to explore the functionalities offered by digital and wearable technologies. There is more emphasis on data privacy today than ever. With a leap of faith that your data is safe, you should enjoy going to fitness studios and start measuring and analyzing the output of all your revolutionary indoor exercise.
Fitness Studio Trend #4: Newer Exercise Trends
Our bodies, our needs, and our physiology are changing. As a result, the gyms are changing too. In this time of change, a great new breed of activity and training patterns have emerged. These are not only tailored to suit the requirements of small groups but are also naturally enjoyable and highly efficient when it comes to ‘value for time.’
When it comes to boutique fitness studios, more often than not, the focus areas are Speed, Agility, Stamina, and Core Strength. Let’s look at some of the more recent fitness studio trends that are relevant.
If you are unfamiliar with HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training, you will soon learn that it is much more useful than slogging it out on an elliptical machine with your earphones for good company. The exercise focuses on alternating short but intense bouts of activity with even shorter periods of partial rest. Rinse and repeat. HIIT is very popular in a lot of fitness studios and group classes around the world.
Some of the advantages of HIIT include:
- Metabolism steps up a gear.
- Burn more calories than usual. Think 20 to 30% more!
- Your body will continue to burn calories even when you’ve stopped the session.
- Great cardio!
- Lowers Blood Pressure and keeps your sugar levels in check.
- Increases core strength
The Tabata workout is a tried and tested form of HIIT which can get you into top shape.
Shorter class times
Similar to HIIT, for those who are always short of time, a quicker and more intense workout is proven to be twice as productive when compared to regular treadmill work. The idea is to squeeze in as much as you can in one short burst. Let’s say, 20-30 minutes.
The key here is to identify the group you are trying to market to and then tailoring a suitable agenda for them at the studio. For example,
- 15 minutes on the skill cycle and
- Fifteen minutes (immediately) on training with free weights.
This form of breathless transition is also known as anaerobic exercise and is proven to bring a lot of benefits.
Compared to regular gyms, small-sized group classes in fitness studios are more enjoyable and even more beneficial if you don’t feel comfortable in the former.
You can enjoy the “booking in advance” experience, structured goal setting, and motivation that comes along with working in small groups of like-minded people. It also has an air of accountability and a fun factor to it. Small group classes go hand in hand with boutique fitness studios.
Fitness studios across the world have started to offer a variety of programs to cater to various interests. These days it is easy to find studios that offer these (but not limited to) activities:
- Yoga / Yogalates
- Body Combat
- Body Balance
- Spin / Virtual Spin
- Aqua /Water training
Appealing to the Millennials (and Boomers)
Looking past the absurdity of these labels, one cannot ignore how different the needs of Millenials and Boomers are.
There is no doubt that the younger generation is looking at digital solutions for all the facets of fitness. Data suggests that the younger generation enjoy training to acquire a more athletic characteristics via HIIT and prefer the experience of regular group classes.
Millennials also opt for multi-facility memberships and sometimes are open to trying out various classes time and again to mix and match the experience.
It’s quite apparent that the needs of the millennials or the younger generation will dictate how the fitness studio industry will evolve in the coming years.
When it comes to slightly older groups (35+), the preferences move away from instant gratification to a more cause-effect basis. A theme that is picking up steam in recent years is ‘Exercise is Medicine’ which is a global health initiative managed by the ACSM.
This theme allows a clinician to identify suitable exercises to overcome chronic conditions such as pain, decreasing blood pressure, or improving strength.
Fitness Studio Trend #5: Nutrition
In recent times, many fitness studios have started offering guidance and help with eating healthy as part of a good fitness plan. To say healthy eating goes hand in hand with general wellbeing is an understatement.
The idea here is that personal training can reach its full efficiency if the trainer adds on responsible nutrition advice along with functional fitness training.
The obvious downside to this phenomenon is that the trainer needs to be thoroughly knowledgeable in the science of nutrition and food supplements. Any wrong or miscalculated advice could result in adverse health effects for the client.
Fitness Studio Trend #6: Corporate wellness programs
More and more boutique fitness studio owners are partnering with corporates to provide classes for their employees. The physical and mental wellbeing of employees is a high priority and is related to profitability for any company.
As a result, employers are offering their employees exposure to fitness programs via various schemes such as
- Fitness studio vouchers for employees
- Regular group classes tailored to suit groups of employees
- Subsidized rates or incentives for attending partner fitness studios.
Wellness discovery platforms enable employers and employees to find the right program for them.
A couple of classic examples for this phenomenon are ‘GymPass’ or ‘ClassPass.’ These are excellent services that can help link employees of a particular company to find an activity they love via the registered fitness studios on the same platform. Employees particularly enjoy it as it provides them the flexibility to pre-book and choose a fitness class they love.
The advantages for the studio owners registering with such digital platforms are
- Bring in new clients (employees) who have never been to a gym or a fitness studio before.
- Potential for bulk bookings
- Options for long term or short-term partnerships.
Fitness Studio Trend #7: Certified Fitness Training Professionals
Training in small groups is a fast-growing trend. This trend has also resulted in the need for more personal fitness trainers. Not only this, but there are also different channels where the training can take place, i.e., online, classroom, 1:1, etc.
The job of a personal fitness trainer is quite varied. From prescribing a suitable fitness plan to teaching how to use fitness equipment, they also suggest appropriate nutritional advice and also offer motivational or psychological help.
The expertise required for the job requires these professionals to equip themselves with adequate knowledge and training. There is an increasing trend where Fitness professionals are obtaining certifications to help them stand out in the growing competition and also to add credence to their profession.
Some of the standard vocational certifications in this field are
- Diploma in Health, Fitness, and Exercise Instruction
- Level 2: Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness
- Level 2: Certificate in Fitness Instructing – Gym
Additional qualifications can include
- Level 3: Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training
- Level 3: Diploma in Personal Training
A NASM or a NCCA approved sports science or nutrition certification could also be a big plus.
Despite the excellent opportunity for professional trainers, there is also a question mark over long-term sustainability. As the competition increases and saturates the market, it results in pressure on the monetary compensation side and career expectations for the trainers.
Various economic aspects directly impact spending patterns. Add to this, constant competition from the big players and franchises will always have an impact on your fitness business. The key takeaway here is that a boutique fitness studio will still be subject to financial challenges, but there aren’t many businesses out there that are immune to this problem.
I write abouT establishing and Growing your boutique Fitness/Wellness Business. I promise no spam, i hate spam.
About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the fitness and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set-up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently resides in London, U.K.