Published on November 10, 2021 at 3:20 p.m. by Tory Elliott. Fitness and health are popular topics in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fitness boutiques sparked a revolutionary movement for those looking to get their sweat on in group fitness classes. The International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association reports that 18.2 million Americans currently belong to at least one fitness studio.
From Orangetheory to spinoffs like HOTWORX, there are a plethora of fitness boutiques popping up. As such, these studios need something to set themselves apart from the others. Studios must keep their members’ loyalty, specifically by cultivating relationships with those members and creating activities outside of the studio.
Fitness boutiques are focused on attracting new members while also maintaining members over a long period of time. Orangetheory and True40, two popular studios, achieve this goal by offering free class incentives. In comparison, other studios create community-type environments so that members may support and challenge one another to attain their fitness goals, and then return to establish new goals.
Callie Ryan, studio manager for the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Orangetheory location, said that the studio does a lot to attract new members. “We have a marketing budget each month, where we spend money on ads to be sent out in the surrounding area of our studio,” she said. “We also go to businesses to set up a table and try to bring in our own leads that are interested in coming to try out a free class at our studio. We have many social media platforms that we post on daily to attract people to come check out our studio.”
Fitness boutiques are not just for working out anymore — members want a community they can converse with outside the studio. Orangetheory frequently has no shower happy hours where members meet after the last class of the day and go to a restaurant to hangout and chat with coaches and other members.
Branding for these fitness boutiques is an important key to maintaining awareness and influence with their members. Clients are an opportunity for these studios to get their word out and stay open. Social media is a great way to interact with members and keep them updated. When a member achieves their goal and posts about a good workout on social media, it generates positive buzz for the studio.
Like other small businesses, True40 was impacted by the pandemic. Ashley Oswalt, the studio manager for True40, said “people in our community went out of their way to help keep True40 alive during the national lockdown.”
“We were not holding classes in person here, but we were doing daily workouts for our members at home,” she explained. “This led us to having a new approach to our business, which now entails live streaming into our daily classes. It was like, for almost how much we were pouring out into them, they were pouring back into us when we needed it. Our community kept us alive through our toughest time, and we hope we continue to do the same for them.”
According to Beth Kempton, developing a business’s best staff and providing an exceptional customer experience are critical to distinguishing the fitness boutiques from their competition. Even more, these factors are essential to attract and maintain customer loyalty, she stated.
When it comes to creating and cultivating a community within a fitness boutique, its members and their thoughts are the most important factor. Lauren Bales, a member and now-instructor of True40 fitness boutique, said that encouragement and the workout are the main reasons she keeps coming back for more. “Working out should allow people to feel good from the inside, rather than focusing on the exterior results of working out,” she said. “While it feels great to see the physical results of working out, the impact on your mental health matters so much more and can have an equally significant impact from working out.”
According to an article by Crystal Zakaluzny, “boutique studios offer a more intimate setting where customers feel more at home, build strong relationships with other members and want to tell others about the amazing services they experience.” Zakaluzny said that implementing new ideas to a studio’s business plan will create loyalty among its consumers.
Without the members, the businesses would not be anything. The studios’ clients are the reason they are open, and being able to develop and maintain those relationships with everyone involved is critical to the success of a fitness boutique.