Did you know that 67% of gym members never use their memberships? Perhaps that’s because gyms can be intimidating — especially the sprawling ones with lots of people and lots of equipment. One new trend that seems to be getting people to work out more is the boutique gym. If you’re considering opening a gym, read on to see the pros and cons of opening a boutique.
What is a Boutique Gym?
A boutique gym is smaller than most traditional gyms. These gyms focus on a specific type of workout — usually a class led by an expert instructor. A boutique might offer pilates, yoga, barre workouts, powerlifting, or another type of specialty exercise. This can give members individual attention, smaller groups, and a more intimate setting.
A boutique health club focuses on one type of training, which can be a big draw for potential members who otherwise feel overwhelmed at large gyms.
You’ll spend less money on rent if you open a boutique because you won’t need as much space. Typically, you will have fewer machines. You won’t need a multi-level complex, which costs a lot more in terms of overhead, staffing, and equipment purchases and maintenance.
You can charge more for boutique classes as well, as many gyms charge $20 to $40 per class. If you have 20 people in a class, you can make $400 to $800 per class, which adds up quickly.
You won’t need a lot of expensive equipment for a boutique health club, especially if you offer something like yoga or pilates that require nothing more than a mat.
In a boutique gym, you can get to know your members better because there will be fewer of them. The members will also get to know each other better. The camaraderie can motivate everyone to get to the gym more, and members will be more likely to reach their fitness goals.
Many boutiques find that their class becomes a favorite in the community. This fills the classes and can even gain you a waitlist.
If you open a boutique gym, keep in mind that a niche market can mean a smaller number of prospective members. You may have to work harder to get people to join. Try offering a discount, spreading the word on social media, getting involved in the community, and having health club software features, such as automatic billing and fingerprint check-in. Most gym-goers expect health club software features nowadays.
You only make money when you hold classes in a boutique if you charge by the class. So, unlike larger gyms, members don’t have 24/7 access or pay a monthly rate.
Members of your boutique will probably be paying per class, so they may not be able to afford a lot of them. Just as you as an owner can profit from lots of classes, a member may find that they’re spending more than their budget allows.
Boutique health clubs require skilled instructors, which could be hard to find because there are fewer of them. If you don’t plan on teaching classes yourself, you may want to invest in training for yourself so that you can step in when you need to.
Class size is limited due to space, equipment, and student to instructor ratio, so you may not be as profitable until your classes fill up. This can be difficult to do when you first open your doors.
While there are several cons to opening a boutique, there are ways to succeed in opening one. First of all, get the word out early — well before you open. You can reach people via email, social media, or hosting community events or free classes. Offer discounts to new members and competitive salaries to draw experienced staff.
If you want to compete for business with larger gyms, you may also want to offer amenities at your boutique like they do. Hire babysitters to watch members’ children so they can attend classes. Sell merchandise, such as water, snacks, or workout gear. Invest in health club software.
Health club software features can benefit both you and your members. They will appreciate easier check in and online account management. You will appreciate health club software features, such as monthly accounting reports, account updater, and billing systems for gyms.
You should weigh the pros and cons of opening a boutique health club carefully before you decide if it’s the right move for you.