Bigger might be better, but that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to fitness franchises
Boutique fitness studios have gained momentum in both the fitness and franchise worlds, creating customer experiences and business opportunities that are impossible with big-box gyms. These smaller studios have become a haven for members who crave a personal and focused workout and a home away from home. Trainers are more hands-on and involved in the development of members. This personalized approach generates a sense of community between members and leads to high retention rates.
Big-box gyms might have ten times the equipment as their smaller counterparts, but typically fail to engage members as well or create the same excitement as smaller studios. A shining example is OrangeTheory Fitness which focuses on high-energy group fitness. With more than 1,000 locations, OrangeTheory has become a household word in the boutique fitness franchise space.
So why invest in a boutique fitness franchise over a big-box gym? Besides the lower overhead and lower investment level, there is the feel-good aspect. People are drawn for the fun, community environment, and the opportunity to help others feel good about themselves. And after the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw first-hand how resilient and creative these brands were. Many were able to quickly pivot to streaming classes to keep members active during the shutdowns. Plus, they have very high retention rates and recurring revenue. Instead of having to recruit 1,000 or more members, these studios usually need a few hundred to break even.
There are so many opportunities and countless options, with hundreds of different brands. Boutique fitness includes all of these different niches and more:
Brands like YogaSix and CorePower Yoga make yoga accessible to all. Classes at each of these brands vary based on customer preferences. Whether it’s strength training, flexibility, balance, or agility, each class is tailored to a specific focus of the body and personalized for each individual.
With hundreds of locations worldwide, Club Pilates has made Pilates more accessible, approachable, and welcoming to people of all ages and fitness levels. With a range of classes that work the body and the mind, members get individual attention in a fun group setting.
Bike enthusiasts can get their fix at any time and in any weather with a cycling studio. CycleBar, for example, inspires riders by working the body and the mind. Each class begins in a dark room filled with immersive music and colorful lights, allowing riders to get into their own zone and perform to the best of their ability. As the ride progresses, the instructor acts as the customer‘s own personal trainer and coach, motivating riders to stay determined and proud of their accomplishments.
Personal training in a small group setting is the idea behind boutique personal training studios. One brand that stands out is Alloy, which is fairly new to franchising but has been licensing its personal training concept for years. Alloy’s programs are based on a straightforward philosophy: people who get personalized coaching get better results. The company’s founder, Rick Mayo describes the workout as “high-level athletic training for anyone.” Alloy caters to a somewhat older clientele with more disposable income—consisting of folks in their 40s and 50s.
Rowing is not just reserved for the crew team. The Row House and CITY ROW are two popular franchise concepts that have been growing through franchising. They both offer low-impact, high-intensity workouts for all levels. Like most other boutique fitness concepts, franchisees benefit from recurring revenue and a feel-good, upbeat business.
Athletic training is not just for high-end competitors. People who want to get in optimal shape hit these studios and sweat it out, no experience required. ISI Elite Fitness promises that members can burn up to 1,000 calories while gaining strength and confidence. They keep members accountable with regular check-ins and offer a variety of workouts to keep it interesting.
Boxing has long been a favorite niche in fitness. Members come for the intense workout and a safe way to “beat up” something and release pent-up aggression. TITLE Boxing Club and 9Round are just some of the players in this booming sector. Recently, Xponential Fitness acquired Rumble, the much-acclaimed, New York City-based boxing gym known for its celebrity clientele. This lively boxing concept rounds out Xponential’s portfolio to 9 boutique fitness brands.
At the end of the day, boutique fitness is all about the membership experience. Boutique fitness franchises are staffed with professional trainers, high-end facilities, and are inspiring to many people who want to work on their overall fitness and health. The community these franchises build is one-of-a-kind and makes franchise ownership both rewarding and fun.