Big, loud, dirty, and stinky. That describes coal trains. And also conventional chain gyms. Since the fitness craze hit in the 80s, chain gyms have exploded in number across the United States. Most of them follow the same formula: Pack in as many people as possible and keep overhead low. The result is the description you see above.
But something is changing. Over the last couple of years, chain gyms have started to sweat for a whole new reason. Boutique gyms — once few and far between — have dramatically increased in popularity as people seek an alternative to the unpleasant norm.
A recent CBS report found that 40 percent of people nationwide who have fitness memberships go to boutique gyms. This reflects a massive departure from ten years ago. Some people belong to multiple gyms (a boutique gym and a chain gym), but the tide is shifting.
Why? Aside from avoiding the “big, loud, dirty, and stinky” factors, people are increasingly seeking a more pleasant, personalized experience. Let’s face it: working out is a challenge, so why make it more difficult by forcing yourself to spend time in a place that doesn’t make you feel good?
There’s an assumption that non-chain gyms are small and limited in scope. It’s true that some boutique gyms specialize in one specific type of fitness offering, such as Crossfit. Others, however, offer a full range of services that you’d find at a traditional chain gym (personal training, group fitness, cardio equipment, strength equipment, pools), often along with extra perks such as steam rooms.
Of course, people are also figuring out that there’s something to be said for not being “Member #14180902983.”
Does your gym make you want to spend more time there? Or less?