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Boutique Gyms Part Ii: How Health Clubs Can Create The Same Excitement

We’ve discussed what boutique gyms are and why they are gaining popularity. The big question for traditional health clubs is how they are prepared to respond.

The boutique experience is based largely on creating a welcoming environment of excitement and energy. Clubs need to replicate that atmosphere, and here a few different ways that you can do just that.

Open a Studio Within the Club

Use under utilized space to your advantage by creating studio space while still providing members with the variety offered by a standard health club. It’s important to not skimp on the experience. Focus on something trendy, invest in the atmosphere of exclusivity, and build hype. And, don’t be afraid to charge for it. Remember, boutiques charge premium prices and you can too.

Play to Your Strengths

Boutiques tend to lack variety and operate with a small footprint. Health clubs have the ability to provide more. For example, offer childcare. Eighty percent or more of boutique customers are female, many have children, yet small boutiques often do not have space for childcare. Or, consider focusing on a specific demographic that doesn’t have great options tailored to them (e.g., we’re still surprised that it’s taking health clubs as long as it is to go after the active aging population with any real focus).

Do What Boutiques Do, Just Different

There are other ways to create an atmosphere of exclusivity without building out a separate studio space. One of the best ways is to create phenomenal small group training, which might require an investment and following a few important guidelines.

  • Focus on the space. Provide dedicated space (even if just for certain hours) so your members aren’t simply being pushed aside by what feels like an impromptu class.
  • Focus on the instructors. Not all personal trainers excel at high-energy small group training. Make sure trainers are a good fit for the programs they’re running. Put them in a position to succeed.
  • Instruct trainers on the strategies of building a class. Personal trainers shouldn’t be expected to be savvy when it comes to business. They may not necessarily know the secrets to how to get small group personal training classes going. Don’t feel compelled to teach them about the exercise aspects of small group training (that’s their forte), but instead inform them about the business model and process for marketing and growing a class.
  • Build an atmosphere of exclusivity. Create an exciting small group training that becomes the aspirational offering your club provides to its members.
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