Big-box gyms are rebuilding their brands with boutique amenities.
The latest: Fitness International, operator of LA Fitness, City Sports Clubs, and Esporta, debuted a new boutique fitness-focused gym facility called Club Studio.
The 40K-square-foot houses five dedicated group fitness studios—HIIT, hot yoga, cycling, boxing, and reformer Pilates—paired with cryotherapy services and more typical big-box offerings like free weights, swimming pool, basketball court, and more.
Why it matters: After unbundling during the pandemic, traditional health club operators are rebuilding with services aimed at the holistic exerciser. That includes shamelessly borrowing elements from its longtime industry rival, boutique studios.
The reasoning adds up. Gaining all last decade, the boutique experience revived group exercise. Hampered during the pandemic, last year, the category hit all-time highs.
With an industry in flux, big-boxes like Fitness International could borrow from boutiques, delivering the best of both worlds.
Boutiqueification. Seeking greater diversification to meet the many evolving practices in wellness like mindful movement, strength+, and longevity—while providing a club experience exercisers can’t get at home—the great re-bundling is on.
- Fitness International struck a deal with Xponential Fitness for 500+ concepts inside select clubs and recently launched a digital membership with Les Mills+ last year.
- New York Sports Clubs acquired omnichannel strength/HIIT boutique Fhitting Room and is remodeling its gyms’ spaces, programs, and services around high performance.
- Last year, Life Time launched Ultra Fit, an in-house metabolic conditioning program, joining its established group training concepts Alpha (Olympic weightlifting) and GTX (cardio + strength).
Punchline: Where consumer preference goes, the industry will follow. For now, that means gyms are evolving to offer more specialized classes and social experiences for exercisers seeking accountability, motivation, and results.