What Retailers Can Learn From the Success of Boutique Fitness

How much would you be willing to pay for a fitness class at a boutique workout studio?

According to an article on Nasdaq, Millennials are switching up their gym memberships for more expensive and trendy boutique fitness classes. A single class in one of these schmancy studios can cost around $34 a pop.

Expensive fee aside, people have their reasons for visiting small boutique gyms for cycling, boxing, boot camps, and more.

Why People are Clamoring for the Boutique Fitness Experience

Interestingly, pricing influences the consumer’s perception of the quality they will receive, suggests Josh Leve, founder and CEO of the Association of Fitness Studios.”If your fitness studio is focused on delivering the best possible experience for your members or clients, but you price below what others are charging to generate business, then consumers will believe that your offering is average; counter to how you have positioned your studio,” says Leve.

Average offerings are unacceptable in an industry where superb experiences define the boutique fitness trend. Whether studios offer a relaxing candle-lit cycling environment, a live DJ spinning a lively playlist on the dance floor, or a selection of luxury products in the locker room, all of these details make workouts seem more luxurious and, yes, even enjoyable.

In addition to the atmosphere, the trainers at fitness boutiques are more than just workout instructors—they’re friends, mentors, and cheerleaders who offer motivation and inspiration. And with smaller classes, training can be more catered to personal fitness goals.

At Rumble, a boxing-inspired group fitness studio, the company “spares no expense” when it comes to making sure that their customers get a superb experience with each class. “We have a philosophy of ‘elevate or die,’ so it’s imperative that the customer experience keeps improving,” emphasizes one of Rumble’s co-founders, who puts a lot of time and thought into “curating an experience” for customers. And people are buying it. In fact, Rumble’s three New York City locations attract anywhere from 300-650 people a day.

While there are plenty of free ways to work out, a studio class isn’t only about the workout, it’s also about the experience. “Experiences today are social currency,” comments Levy.

Indeed, information found on the Nasdaq site confirms that a sense of community is also a big part of the boutique fitness trend. Because the studios are small, with sessions scheduled at specific times, the clients and staff really get to know each other after just a few sessions—they become workout buddies. This camaraderie makes the fitness experience more meaningful and enjoyable, contributing to the mentality that keeping oneself healthy is fun.

What Can Retailers Learn From This?

“Companies need to take a close look at how they are investing their money,” says David Clarke, global CXO and experience consulting leader at PwC.

Clarke pointed out that a lot of companies today don’t have an “experience budget.” Building great experiences involves many levels, including hiring the right people and giving those people the right tools to succeed so they can, in turn, provide great customer service. The experience budget must include everyone in the organization so they understand that they’re all responsible for the customer experience.

“No amount of money, advertising, or vast product portfolio will make up for subpar customer experiences,” admonishes Tiffany Bova on Medium. “Regardless of what industry you are in or what segment you serve, there is no way around this.”

“Becoming a customer-led company, one that is obsessively focused on customers and their experiences with a brand, isn’t just one of many growth paths. It is the growth path that must become the foundation.”

~Tiffany Bova via Medium

To be a great company now requires more than just products and/or services. It means being a great experience company, and the companies that are moving their investments . . . into experience-led services and products are the ones that are actually doing better,” says PwC’s CXO, David Clarke. “They’re winning.”


The Fitness Boutique industry is booming, but retailers and other businesses can succeed in today’s competitive landscape by adopting some of their strategies:

  • Asking the price for the quality they offer
  • Providing unquestionable value
  • Making a visit to their establishment an unforgettable experience
  • Creating a sense of community

These practices combine to build a good experience that is key in influencing customers’ brand loyalty. To paraphrase Alex Allwood of The Holla Agency, it all boils down to how the customer experiences the brand—and how that brand makes a person feel.

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Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.