The Columbus area is seeing an explosion of boutique fitness centers that focus on specialized classes instead of weight racks.
Kufahl said millennials and older customers are leading the way, while Gen Z is more interested in strength training.
“What I see from the younger generation … they have a desire to be proactive about their health and look for alternative ways to fix their problems,” says Fawcett. “I’ve seen it motivate them to exercise more over the last 10 years.”
Boutique fitness: ‘People want relationships. They’re looking for community’
Cyclebar, which has hundreds of studios globally, including three in Columbus, claims to be “the world’s first and largest indoor cycling concept,” according to its website. Membership prices start at $79 a month for limited sessions.
For comparison, a Lifetime Fitness membership typically starts at $79 a month in the Columbus area while the top Esporta Fitness membership costs $29.99 a month.
Kufahl said classroom-based centers have grown despite suffering more than traditional gyms during the pandemic.
While Kufahl said membership levels at boutique fitness studios have not returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, the use of virtual classes during the pandemic has exposed many people to studio fitness. than.
“People want relationships,” says Fawcett. “They’re looking for community, and I think they find it in many ways in those places.”
The pandemic has spurred many people to exercise
Santanna Santiago, general manager at Cyclebar Easton, said she started cycling during the pandemic.
“I just started trying out a lot of gyms and things like that, to be honest, just looking for a place where I belong,” says Santiago.
She eventually fell in love with Cyclebar and joined not only its fitness team but also its sales team, working her way from front desk to management positions.
“I don’t just see physical changes in people,” she says. “I’ve seen mental changes and confidence, people are building themselves. And I love that.”
Santiago admits that group and boutique exercise is a luxury, but also says it’s necessary for some people to be accountable for pre-scheduled classes.
Since gyms tend to cost more than traditional gyms, Kufahl said if the country were to slip into a recession, store gyms would face even more challenges. While the fitness industry is predicted to weather the downturn relatively well, she said, the gyms most likely to succeed are low-cost establishments like Planet Fitness and Fitness crunchoffers introductory rates as low as $10 a month.
At Cyclebar, monthly membership costs range from $79 a month for four rides to $169 for unlimited rides.
“I personally had a $10 Planet Fitness membership,” says Santiago. “I even have a $50 Gold membership, and it’s not the same. … When you come to Cyclebar, it’s just a completely different culture and atmosphere. I always felt like like people support me and they want me to do well and they want me here.”
Friendship means a lot
For Susie Ratcliff, the price was worth it.
Ratcliff has been doing Pure Barrea ballet-based strength exercise, for seven years.
“I look forward to 50 minutes a day just for me, with no distractions,” she says. “I love working with strong, like-minded women.”
Ratcliff was diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic and said she started making Pure Barre with her daughter. She enjoys the responsibility and encouragement that come with the class structure, as well as the support and friendship system.
“My daughter is getting married in August,” she said. “Some of the people who came to the wedding were people I met there (at Pure Barre).”
Ratcliff said she booked in advance on cost, as Pure Barre’s starting membership plan is $99 for the first month, though plans vary depending on the number of classes. For four classes a month, members pay $79. Eight classes a month costs $139 and an unlimited membership is $179 monthly.
“If the pandemic really taught us anything, it’s that we’re not as motivated as we are at home,” said Kelsey Perin, owner of three Pure Barre locations in Columbus. “I don’t believe live studio classes are going to go away because you work harder.”
Perin said she adjusted membership rates for the duration of the pandemic, reducing them to about $20 a week and offering virtual classes. The studio also sells costumes to supplement revenue.
She said the studio is currently returning to pre-pandemic membership rates, but she hopes for the future of Pure Barre, which just celebrated Grandview’s 11th anniversary.
“We’re really, really trying to make it not something that goes out of style,” she said.
Strength and cardio exercises are also popular
Orangetheory Fitness, a timed cardio and strength training center, is a relatively new – but fast-growing – gym. Stephanie Young, regional developer and owner of multiple Orangetheory locations, said Orangetheory currently operates 16 locations in the Columbus area with two more in the pipeline.
What sets Orangetheory apart from in-store fitness competitors, says Young, is the structured workouts based on heart rate. She said the studio just raised the price by $10 for the first time in eight years.
“For fitness stores, we’re one of the most affordable,” she says.
All membership rates at Orangetheory run monthly. Unlimited membership costs $169 per month. Membership eight sessions per month costs $109 and four times a month is $69.
Despite the relatively high cost, Young wanted people to get a good deal for their money.
“I used to work in the fitness industry, and we would just take people’s money even if they weren’t in the door,” she said. “We don’t want you to donate your money to us. We want you to live life outside the studio more.”
Young said Orangetheory lost 40% of its members during the pandemic and is now back to about 90% of its membership and revenue.
“We always want our riders to feel welcome and appreciated here, and that keeps people coming back, which ultimately helps them achieve their fitness goals,” said Santiago. me. “Which, it’s worth it in the end.”