12-14 May 2017.
Old Truman Brewery,
London.
  • FITNESS EVOLUTION

The Rise of Boutique Fitness

BY HILARY GILBERT & ROBERT ROWLAND

BOOM Cycle is taking the fitness world by storm, having been a key player in the revolution of the fitness industry. Founders and game changers Hilary Gilbert and Robert Rowland have created more than just a spin studio, they are spreading a fitness lifestyle incorporating intense workouts with a whole lot of fun. We chat to the two entrepreneurs to get an idea of the changing landscape of the industry.
 


How has boutique fitness evolved since BOOM Cycle opened?
 
“When I first came to London in 2004 there were hardly any boutique studios around. Coming from New York this was a huge surprise! When BOOM Cycle opened in 2011 we were the first specialised indoor cycling focused fitness studio, although there were other boutique studios operating in other spaces - such as Frame, Barrecore, Heartcore, Ten Pilates and Tri Yoga - all of which had successful growing studios. Back then there were only around 15 studios, and that’s excluding yoga studios!  Fast forward to today and that number is more like 55 studios, showing a huge explosion in the boutique fitness studio market. It’s been great for us allowing us to expand and open a second studio, with plans to open two more by next year.”
 
Have we said good bye to big gyms?
 
“They are still around, although it seems they are losing steam. The traditional ‘big box’ gyms had a heyday through the 80’s, 90’s and noughties. Big gyms are continuing to receive funding, but the market has become stagnant as consumers want more freedom and flexibility. The imbalance of supply and demand has put a lot of pressure on pricing – gyms began to lower the price of memberships to try and increase numbers and the explosion of low costs gyms began. The traditional subscription model was then re-evaluated as members didn’t want to be stuck in long term contracts anymore.”
 
Why are boutique gyms so appealing?
 
“It seems straight forward, but it has been only recently that the majority of gyms have started focusing on what was important: the people. We are finally seeing a shift away from trying to sign up as many members as possible, to having engaged, loyal consumers. It’s no longer about numbers, it’s about retention. The rise of the boutique fitness studios allows a more intimate workout environment. Studios like BOOM Cycle are a place for members to be noticed and be part of a community, instead of being another number in the system.”
 
Who goes to boutique gyms?
 
“The evolution of gyms is no surprise when we look at the modern traits of millennials. BOOM Cycle members are intelligent, progressive, socially focused, engaged and brand loyal. They are transient and engaged with social and digital media. Millennials have demanded a shift in the way they exercise and we are happily responding to their needs. They want to enjoy their workout and it needs to suit their lifestyle. Fitness doesn’t need to be boring anymore – our classes are energetic, immersive, and motivating. It’s the little details that matter, such as the music, the lighting and the charismatic instructors. It all adds up to make an enjoyable fitness experience. Our on-site music is compiled by our Director of Music, Marcus James, ex-DJ and producer in the European electronic music scene."
 
What makes BOOM Cycle different?
 
“Building a successful boutique fitness business is not as simple as finding a space, building some showers, putting some bikes in and awaiting the rush of people to come to your classes. City living is a stressful undertaking, and our job as boutique studio owners is to take this stress away. At BOOM Cycle we always say that our job is to exercise the mind first and the body second. Our aim is to create an escape for our riders where they can forget about work, forget about their travel pains, or money woes, or relationship problems. We want them to come into the studio, be greeted with a smile and leave with a smile of their own. We exist to make fitness fun and by doing that we see a bright future, not just for BOOM Cycle, but for the whole industry.”
 
Balance Festival The Rise of Boutique Fitness