“Going to the gym” means something completely different than it used to—there are just so many different types of ways to exercise now! Because fitness is becoming more and more a part of lifestylization—rather than just an interest for gym rats and athletes—there is an enormous variety of fitness practices to engage with.
Studio fitness has become a large industry. According to the latest IHRSA report, total fitness industry revenue was an estimated $94 billion in 2018, up from $87.2 billion in 2017. And it’s expected to grow to $106 billion by the year 2020.
This is a large market, and just as with other popular studio fitness modalities, to be successful, you have to niche down.
Let’s use Barre as an example. Barre had 3.53 million participants in the US alone in 2018.
While it’s smart to niche down in terms of demographics, you can also grow a successful barre studio by niching down within the activity itself.
Here are some examples of successful studios that have niched down within the barre industry to offer something unique that their members love.
A niche gym or studio is a fitness club that’s generally smaller and targeted to a specific clientele such as women, seniors, children, etc. The programs offered at niche studios are tailored to create loyal enthusiasts and deliver fitness results. No matter the activities at a niche studio, they offer something customers want, keeping them coming back for more.
Barre in and of itself is a niche! It’s a very specific style of exercise very different from, say, yoga or Pilates. Niching down the type of service your studio offers is what makes it stand apart from any other fitness studios. In a sense, by niching down, you eliminate competition by becoming something completely unique and distinct.
Niche studios are desirable options for anyone who has ever joined a traditional gym only to find that they’re getting less value from their workouts than they had hoped. Maybe it’s because a regular ol’ gym is kind of lonely. Maybe it’s that people find working out there to be boring! Because experiences in a traditional gym are completely self-guided, the prospect of personalized instruction, interesting workouts, and a sense of community that niche studios offer is very appealing.
Begin at the very top. What is the modality that you practice/teach/find most interesting? Yoga, barre, Cross Fit—pick your poison. From there, think about what you enjoy most about this particular practice. How can you enhance it? What about it would you most like to change?
Start to experiment in your classes by altering the regular modality a bit in practice. Maybe bring in weights or speed things up. Get feedback from your students on the changes you’ve made and adjust if necessary. If they’re loving it, then you might have niched your way right into a hit!
Could it be time to franchise?
To get a part of that boutique fitness market share, you’ve got to pick a niche. Ask yourself: What do you want to offer, to whom, and what will the benefit be to your students? When you can answer those questions, you can hone in on growing and nurturing a loyal membership.
As a boutique fitness studio owner, you know it's not your business is more than engaging workouts. To truly thrive and retain clients in the long run, you need to build a strong sense of community within your studio.