September 16, 2019

The boutique fitness studio movement has staying power within the industry, but the high per-class fees that make them such a lucrative endeavor aren’t likely to exhibit that same longevity. Expect many boutique centers to pop up and just as quickly fizzle in the coming months as traditional fitness centers provide programs and equipment that take the boutique approach in a more convenient and affordable package. Just three changes can help you retain those multi-membership fitness fanatics.

Shorter classes

If a busy member comes into your facility to work out, they may not have a full hour to spend in a class. Offer half-hour versions of your most popular group exercise classes, but at a higher intensity. Shared pain is often part of the experience members love and it’s why HIIT and boot camp training continue to dominate the top 10 fitness trends.

Unique equipment

Another trend that isn’t going anywhere is the use of wearable technology. Pair that with great wi-fi and app-connected cardio equipment and you’ll appeal to the members who might otherwise choose a boutique like OrangeTheory. Take it a step further and offer Crossfit-style equipment such as plyo boxes, or unique and high-intensity equipment such as the Versaclimber.

Recovery options

Boutique studios cater to dedicated fitness enthusiasts who work out three-to-five times weekly. These hard-hitting members know the value of purposeful recovery sessions, so promote guided stretching, foam rolling and yoga classes and massage for those rest days.

If your members can get a boutique experience at your gym without paying for multiple memberships, they’ll perceive a greater value for the fees you charge. If you’re not in a place to change your current offerings, promote those that appeal most to the boutique crowd. Those fly-by-night studios can’t compete with a full-service fitness center that does everything they can do, and more.

By Yvan Miklin

President and CEO at Aquila/On-Site Health & Fitness Management

Yvan Miklin can be reached at