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Fitness memberships, workout classes, wellness services, beauty appointments and more.
1. a small store selling fashionable clothes or accessories.
2. a business that serves a sophisticated or specialized clientele.
3. a word used to describe a fitness studio that offers a specialized workout experience.
The fitness industry is forever evolving. From old aerobics tapes to big box gyms, how and where we exercise constantly changes. Amongst the on-demand videos and memberships, there’s one trend that is reshaping our wellness routine: boutique fitness—and it’s here to stay.
But what is boutique fitness? And how does a word that is often used to describe high-end shops and hotels become the new name of a sweat-worthy revolution? It starts with the millions of people worldwide who belong to a fitness studio (a record 18.2 million in the US to be exact) and one of the largest generations in history: millennials. All are looking for the best workout experience.
“I think people in my generation are more willing to invest in what challenges them and makes them healthy,” says Carla Zuniga, a millennial who grew bored of traditional gyms told the L.A. Times.
“This generation has created a personalized on-demand economy," said Doug Hecht, MINDBODY SVP of Consumer Products. "They seek value rather than price, and are spending more on experiences rather than things.”
Thousands of the businesses on the MINDBODY app are considered boutique—offering workouts or services with a high experiential factor, smaller, more intimate class sizes, and strong brand association. Plus, a comradery that can’t be ignored. The whole “vibe attracts your tribe” is applicable here, and a handful of these studios are totally Instagrammable. This breed of studio has become more than just a place of exercise. The great ones have transformed into community-powered lifestyle brands, which aim to exist in every part of their customer’s daily lives.
Ask anyone who goes to a boutique studio why they take classes there, and they will tell you it’s the feeling you’re left with post-class. Customers believe in the message of their favorite studio, the ‘why,’ and feel a strong pull towards the studio’s core values. Lotte Berk, who invented barre in the 1960s, had the right idea when she opened a small basement studio in London, attracting top-notch clientele.
So, what does the future hold for this sector and what are the upcoming trends that will have an impact? Emma Barry—the founding member of Les Mills International and former Director of Group Fitness Programming at Equinox—told WellToDo that she is confident we will continue to see a growth in boutique expansion.
“Boutique fitness will continue to capture the hearts and heart-rates of more consumers as the fitness and wellness purse continues to fill,” said Emma. “…Expect HIIT, bodyweight training, strength, yoga and functional fitness (all top 10 worldwide trends) to continue their presence along with boxing boutiques and recovery/stretch labs.”
But, don’t let the word dissuade you. Booking a class at a "boutique" fitness studio doesn’t have to be intimidating. It doesn’t have to be considered “luxury.” Whether you’re tapping into the Barre3 benefit, flowing hard to hip-hop at Y7, or checking out Beginners Pilates at your local spot, studios of all sizes and reach are using this idea of “boutique” to give you a great workout—and an intoxicating (fitness) experience, no matter what your goals are.
That’s something I never expected to hear. Think about it: we join gyms and studios because of their equipment, instructors, space, community (and AC, of course). But who’s to say we can’t get all that—or at least most of it—with virtual and online classes, too? In this new wave of wellness, we’re all switching up our fitness routines as we switch up our everyday schedules and habits. It’s not just in-studio or at-home anymore. It’s in-studio, at-home, at the park, beach, parking lot, rooftop...virtual, hybrid, Instagram Live, online, on-demand, and so much more. As we’re adapting, adjusting, finding our groove, etc., online gym memberships enter the fray. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
There are tons of benefits to an online gym membership, especially right now.
Let’s break this down:
1. Scheduling convenience
A virtual/online gym fitness membership is a monthly subscription that gives you access to tons of live stream fitness classes you can take anywhere, from studios across the globe. These fitness studios offer tons of at-home workouts, group exercise, and one-on-one training sessions to choose from, no matter your exercise program or fitness level. With so many options, it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule. Whether you want to fit in a morning flow before work, combat that afternoon slump with some cardio, squeeze in some strength training before dinner, or wind down with an evening barre class, you can pick and choose classes to fit your fitness routine.
2. Minimizing exposure to COVID-19
And because they’re online, you can take these classes from the comfort of your home (or wherever you are), thus minimizing your exposure to COVID-19 and eliminating your commute to the gym or studio. By now, many of us have our designated “workout spot,” whether it’s an actual weight room, a quick scooch of the coffee table, or a grassy area in the backyard. Maybe you’re comfortable here... maybe you’ve even learned to love it.
With an online gym membership, you can stay in your safe space/comfy workout spot. Or, you can go somewhere new (local park, beach spot, a different area of the house, you know). You can access these virtual, live stream fitness classes from any device, so you can prop up your phone, laptop, or tablet wherever you want to go, or roll out your mat in front of the big screen TV in your living room.
We all have our favorite, go-to workouts. But sometimes, it feels good to switch it up (especially right now). Working from home all day, many of us are craving some variety and excitement, and an online gym membership can definitely help with that. According to our recent poll about COVID’s effect on our fitness routines, 64% of you have tried new online workouts since the start of the pandemic—I know I have. Maybe it’s because trying new things is easier in the comfort of our homes, maybe we’re finally able to try some classes we normally can’t find locally, or maybe we’re all just bored out of our minds...I don’t know. But I’m excited about it.
With an online gym membership, you can get that spice you’re looking for easily. Start out your Monday by hitting some HIIT, ease your sore muscles with some Restorative Yoga, and end the week with some dance cardio to pretend you’re at the club. The world is yours.
4. Working out without a commute
My favorite part? No commute. There are literally no more excuses when it comes to skipping workouts. No traffic, no schedule conflicts, no fear of returning to the studio. You don’t even have to worry about packing a gym bag with a change of clothes and shower supplies or prepping a snack or protein shake to bring to work. Just shut your computer, throw on some leggings, and get to work.
Community—the element of online fitness memberships we don’t often think of. When we go into studios, we understand the beauty of a fitness community. We’re greeted by our instructors, we chat with others in the class, and we all sweat together and encourage each other throughout. But working out at home is different... or is it?
We can do workouts on our own at home all we want, but we’re definitely going to miss out on the community aspect we all know and love. But, with live stream classes, we can create a different kind of community. The beauty of it? It’s not just your neighbors anymore. Anyone with an online fitness membership can join these classes, regardless of where they’re located in relation to the studio, so you can be working out alongside people from all over the world—now that’s something I can get behind.