Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym clubs have one thing in common: They’re huge! They’re so big that some of the larger locations take up over 20,000 square feet of indoor space.
These gyms are cheap at sometimes less than $10 a month. Plus, the vast amount of cardio equipment, resistance machines, and free weights make these clubs worth the investment.
And, when you make the mistake of going to the gym after 5 PM on a weekday, you still have a little space for yourself.
But let’s be honest….these massive health clubs aren’t for everybody.
That’s exactly why smaller boutique gyms and studios are becoming a more popular alternative to some people. They’re tiny, expensive, and are few and far between, but Americans love ‘em.
So, just how much has the boutique fitness industry grown? How popular are they becoming on a national and global scale?
To find out, follow along as we review 21 boutique fitness industry statistics.
Table of Contents
What is Boutique Fitness?
Boutique fitness clubs are considered niche studios that focus on a very specific style of exercise and cater to small groups.
These studios are usually small, 800 – 3500 square feet, and tucked away in store fronts of modest shopping plazas.
The draw of these boutique fitness studios comes from the personal attention you receive after you join, and the training specificity offered by the club.
A few boutique studio examples are:
- Tai Chi
But is the boutique way here to stay? Let’s take a look at the statistics!
General Health Club Industry Statistics
To put the growth of boutique studios into context, it’s important to look at the current trajectory of the health club industry as a whole.
Here are some statistics to get started…
- The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association found that in 2018, over 71.5 million people visited at least one of the 40,000 for-profit health clubs—individual memberships were up 2.6% from 2017, amassing over 62.5 million members.
- In 2016, there were more than 36,000 fitness club locations and 57 million memberships, 3 times as many as when national health clubs became wildly popular in the 1990s—this also boosted revenue up to $27 billion, up 450%.
- Between 2018 and 2023, it’s expected that the global fitness industry market will grow by an average of 10.6%.
- According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, there’s expected to be a 13% growth in fitness trainers and instructors between 2018 and 2028.
These statistics are a little surprising on a few fronts.
I mean, there seems to be a bigger-name chain gym in just about every shopping center in America. But, if so many Americans have gym memberships, why are obesity rates still rising?
Let’s talk about what these stats might mean.
Obesity is the Achilles Heel when it comes to the overall health of the country.
And, yes, the obesity rates are still climbing at exponential rates. Nowadays, about 42.4% of American adults are considered obese (up from “just” 30.5% back in 1999).
Looking at the data, it’s a little concerning to think that 22% of Americans have a gym membership while 42.4% of the country is obese.
There has to be overlap, right?
As it turns out, a lot of people have gym memberships….it’s just that about 80% of these memberships go mostly unused.
So, is it impressive that health clubs are pulling in around $30 billion a year and have over 40,000 locations?
But, most of these members are inactive (which says more about Americans as a whole and not the health club industry).
Why Growth Continues
You might be wondering, “What was it about the 1990s that brought a massive growth of the fitness industry?”
Well, there are a few reasons.
First, the 1990s were when chain gyms were officially born. While gym memberships were once considered a luxury, new locations made them more accessible to the average American.
And, since gyms were available to everyone, prices for memberships were less insane.
Surprisingly, growth is expected to continue as well. So, here’s a look at some amenities at gyms that seem to be drawing people in.
- Group fitness classes
- Open 24/7
- Course offerings like CrossFit and circuit training
- Personal trainers for one-on-one training
Why do Americans keep investing in memberships they never use?
Well, it seems like it’s just the American way.
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- In a single year, statistics show there was an 8% ($32 billion) increase in the profit within the health club industry—boutique gyms have grown 121% within the last 4 years, now making up about 40% of the health club market.
- At boutique studios, small group training (13%), yoga and pilates (9.2%), indoor cycling (7.3%), cross-training (4.5%), martial arts, and boxing (3.7%), and sports (2.9%) are the most popular classes.
- About 42% of all gym memberships in 2018 came from boutique fitness studios, the highest membership recorded in history.
- The IHRSA found that boutique studios accounted for about 21% ($22.4 billion) of the entire fitness club market—CrossFit, Orangetheory Fitness, and Flywheel are some of the fastest-growing boutique leaders.
Thankfully, successful business is pretty easy to understand: You build new boutique locations and draw in a few hundred clients, the market grows!
But, it’s important to note that some boutique fitness classes cost upwards of $40 per person, per session.
So, what is it about these studios that make people willing to throw away the cash?
Variety in Classes
Let’s face it: Regular gym workouts can be extremely boring for the average person. Honestly, how many times can you run on the treadmill or lift a barbell before it loses its spark?
Boutique studios usually offer a unique approach to fitness that keeps things interesting.
For example, you have a choice between:
- Sports classes
- Martial arts and boxing
- Indoor cycling
- Indoor rowing
- Yoga and pilates
People also love the fact that these classes are run by some pretty skilled and motivating group fitness instructors.
So, you’re not throwing yourself to the wolves and winging it at the gym.
Availability & Atmosphere
The worst part of regular chain gyms is that you’re always fighting the crowds. No matter what time you go, the gym always seems to be packed and your favorite machines are taken.
Boutique studios offer classes throughout the day to help you to squeeze in your workout.
But, there’s also the fact that you’re not in the typical macho environment and you won’t be fighting gym anxiety. You’re surrounded by small groups of like-minded people and can build friendships too.
And, the best part is that you don’t owe yearly membership fees.
You pay by class (or month).
Growth in Boutique Fitness
- According to the IHRSA, there has been a 74% growth in boutique memberships between 2012 and 2015, much more significant than the 5% increase seen in typical health clubs.
- In the last 5 years, 281% more boutique studios were established, with an additional 60 boutique studios being brought to London in 2018 alone.
- Between 2010 and 2014, 400% more boutique studios were established in America.
- In 2018, there were 278 boutique studios spread across London offering over 15,000 classes every week—HIIT, Mind & Body, and CrossFit studios were the most popular types.
- In the last five years, there was a 4.9% increase in the number of personal trainers in America, responsible for over $500 million in revenue between 2018 and 2019.
It’s quite clear that the boutique fitness industry is growing quickly. After all, they seem to be popping up just about everywhere, right?
But, there’s a problem with this: Market saturation.
Right now, it makes sense to put up yoga or cycling studios in areas where there aren’t options available to people. At a certain point, you’re not recruiting new clients….you’re dividing them.
So, expect the construction of these gyms to slow in the next few years.
Here’s an example of why that’ll happen.
- 1,000 locals want to take pilates classes
- 1 studio goes up = 1,000 potential clients
- A second studio goes up = 500 clients each
- 4 total studios = 250 clients each
Now, since the interest in regular gyms is more notable than boutiques, new chain gym locations being built probably isn’t something that’ll end anytime soon.
- In boutique studios in LA, Mexico, New York, and London, a mere 23% of participants were men and the other 77% were women.
- Back in 2012, about 37% of all boutique attendees were between the ages of 18 and 34, making up 28% of memberships in 2016.
- A surprising 65% of all boutique members visit at least two facilities, with 22% of respondents participating at three or more studios.
- About 80% of those who use ClassPass had coordinated workouts with their friends or colleagues within the last year.
What’s most interesting about these stats is that people tend to join more than one boutique studio at once. Which, technically is affordable if you’re paying per class (no monthly fees).
People love their variety.
Plus, the idea of doing cycling a few times a week, martial arts once a week, and rowing another day is enough to keep you interested and on a routine.
But, take a look at who tends to visit these studios most often: Young people.
That’s probably because young people like not having to commit to monthly memberships and they especially like spending time with friends by going to groups.
Then, there’s the affordability factor. You can crank out a 60-minute instructor-led workout for $30 instead of spending $60+ on a one-on-one training session with a personal trainer.
Frankly, it’s convenient.
Boutique Brand Success
- F45 is one of the most popular studio brands in the world, now accounting for over 1,150 studios across 36 different countries.
- D1 Training currently has over 30 unique locations in 24 states.
- In a 10-week program developed by Oldham Council’s Get Oldham Working (GOW) and Oldham Community Leisure (OCL), 3 participants found a job, 2 engaged in work experience, and another 3 found work experience through OCL.
- 2015 saw the unexpected growth of barre, accounting for a 141% increase that’s continuously growing today.
What’s interesting about these statistics is where boutique studios started.
They used to be “mom and pop” gyms of sorts. They were established by local business owners, recruited local clients, and typically only had a single location.
Now, boutique studios are growing into chains, just like regular gyms.
Think about it: You drop the phrases “Orange Theory,” “CrossFit,” or “Pure Barre” in a group setting and at least one person knows the closest location.
Based on how rapidly these are spreading, it wouldn’t be surprising if boutiques and large chains split a 50/50 share of the fitness industry in due time.
Some of the most popular boutique fitness brands include SoulCycle, Orange Theory, Barry’s Bootcamp, Zengo, Pure Barr, Club Pilates, [solidcore], PlateFit, and Shadowbox
Fitness industry trends are always changing, but you might be a little curious about what’s popular now. Take a look at the top 10 list for the most popular trends in fitness.
Wearable Technology (such as Fitbit, Oura, Whoop)
Exercising in Groups
Senior Fitness Classes
High Intensity & Interval Workouts
Certifications for Fitness Professionals
Yoga, Pilates, and Barre
Functional Fitness (like CrossFit)
Exercise for Medical Purposes
Keep in mind that these trends may vary from one location to the next, between age groups, and amongst the genders.
The IHRSA has discovered that the fitness industry in America has steadily been increasing by between 3 and 4% over the last decade. The $30 billion industry now provides memberships to about 20% of Americans, though it’s expected that these rates might double in another decade.
The international fitness industry is responsible for over $80 billion in revenue on an annual basis. About $32 billion was generated by the North American arm of the fitness industry in 2017, with about 90% of that revenue coming from the United States. America has both the most memberships and greatest revenue in the fitness industry across the globe.
If you’re all about lifting and getting jacked, the last thing you’re thinking about is joining a gym with the word “boutique” in it, right?
But, keep these studios as an option.
They’re great for adding variety to your workouts. This is especially useful if you’re in a plateau and your muscles are just about dying from strenuous lifting 5 days a week.
Plus, you don’t have to commit. You can show up to class with the fee whenever you want instead of visiting X number of days per month to get your money’s worth.
And, these classes are pretty fun, so consider going on your rest days to stay active.
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