As more boutique studios enter the fitness space, owners need to prepare for a tougher, more competitive economy by employing smart strategies, including using technology to their advantage, creating a one-stop membership experience, connecting with core customers so they stay loyal, and more. Five forward-thinking fitness execs, who spoke about successful studio ownership at BFS, offer their thoughts on what boutique fitness owners must consider to keep their facilities competitive.
Keep ahead of tech.
“New members, who are increasingly educated consumers, will hold fitness brands increasingly accountable to deliver real value,” says Kari Saitowitz, founder and CEO of Fhitting Room. “These increasingly educated consumers, who exhibit variety-seeking behavior, will hold fitness brands increasingly accountable to deliver real value via effective workouts, educated teams, personal attention, and an affordable, but luxury, experience.”
Technology will continue to shape the industry from marketing, to customer service, to back-office functions to the actual experience. “Plus, brick-and-mortar locations will need to offer differentiated propositions vs. digital content,” says Saitowittz, such as live streaming and at-home or on-the-go access to fitness programming.
Define boutique as ‘one-stop shop.’
Like the Queen song, “people want it all,” says Gail Giovanniello, founder and CEO of Mind Your Body. “That includes personalized service, a great workout, a great customer service experience, and a place to meet friends and be part of a small community. Your studio should be the definition of the word ‘boutique.’”
Understand how members want to work out.
Cross-training and multimodality boutique studios will continue to trend—but quality will be the most important standard. “Today’s consumers are smart and discerning,” says Amy Hochhauser, co-founder and CBO at JoyRide Cycling + Fitness. “There are many options out there, so studios will need to have truly qualified, results-driven trainers to stand out from the crowd.”
Know what makes you different.
“What’s your secret sauce?” says Amy Glosser, founder and CEO of BKYlyn Indoor Cycling. “Know it, nourish it, market it and build it into your point of difference in a crowded field.”
Hochhauser also believes there will be a lot of consolidation in the boutique fitness industry over the next few years. “It’ll be more important than ever to differentiate yourself from the pack and deliver on your brand promise,” she says.
Look to the future of tech.
Dr. Frank Benedetto, co-founder of ProVere and Level Up Initiative, points to technology around fitness and nutrition programming. “There are platforms emerging in the currently separate fields of program delivery and results tracking via biometric data,” he says. “When these two areas become linked, we’ll be able to effectively use artificial intelligence to program to a level of certainty beyond human capability.”