Last year, low-cost gyms had a mission: democratize the club business. Now, high-end gyms are raising the bar.
The first two weeks of January are some of the busiest for the gym industry globally. As it happens every year, like clockwork, tons of people go through the same routine: get a new gym subscription.
According to Google searches, on January 2016 and 2017 the common search was: “Get fit” and “Lose weight”, peaking the maximum values (100). On November of both years, the same phrases reach 50 points.
In the past eight to five years, budget gyms have accounted for the bulk of gym growth in recent years.
Now, the trend is bifurcating the fitness market. Boutique gyms, luxurious clubs are gaining growth. High-end gyms can charge up to eight times as much as low-cost ones, based on two visits a week over a year, estimates an industry analyst.
Madonna’s luxury gym –Hard Candy Fitness– has seven subsidiaries around the world: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sydney, Santiago, Rome, Milano and Mexico City.
For example, these clubs from the pop singer -as they described in the web page- “are designed for members who expect to work out hard and then reward themselves with meaningful amenities. Members feel the intensity of the Hard Candy Fitness experience as soon as they walk in, and most don’t want to leave. Dramatic lighting, stunning art, upbeat music and a high-style ambiance are the first steps toward feeling sensational before the workout even begins. Our clubs include: “state-of-the-art cardio and strength-training equipment, group fitness studios with specialized dance floors, results-focused personal training, functional training areas for customized workouts, the Hard Candy Energy Bar and lounge area, spa, sauna and steam rooms and lap pools and jacuzzis”.
Boutique venues such as SoulCycle or Pure Barre are popping up, particularly in big cities and often backed by private equity. Planet Fitness promises “the best value on the planet”, and has over 10m members; its shares soared in 2017.
In Great Britain, one in seven people is a gym member, and 35% of private memberships are low-cost, up from 14% in 2013, according to Leisure DB, a data firm.
On the contrary, mid-range clubs have been struggling on survive.
According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), an industry body based in Boston, fewer than half of gym members in America hit the treadmill at least twice a week—until the exercise cycle begins anew the following January.