Zuniga is punching a heavy bag as if she were preparing for a
title fight, although sheís a 35-year-old hair stylist doing
her regular workout.
sweating at some low-fee, big-box fitness chain. Prevail Boxing
is a 1,500-square-foot studio in Los Angeles that charges $250
for 10 classes.
think people in my generation are more willing to invest in what
challenges them and makes them healthy," said Zuniga, who
grew bored with cheaper, traditional gyms. "Itís
expensive to be healthy, but itís more expensive to be
coffee and artisanal avocado toast may be getting the blame for
millennialsí inability to afford a house. But those expenses
pale in comparison with what a growing segment is willing to
spend on fitness, abandoning $30-a-month gyms for trendy studios
where classes for cycling, boot camp or yoga can run $30 a
fitness studios have become the only growth segment in an
otherwise stagnant gym industry, according to separate research
reports from the Association of Fitness Studios, fitness
technology firm Netpulse and financial services firm Stephens.
it comes to the younger generation, consumer items like car and
home purchases are at an all-time low," said Greg Skloot,
vice president for growth at Netpulse, a San Francisco company
that creates mobile apps for health clubs.
donít want an annual gym membership commitment and a
contract," said Skloot, who co-wrote a recent report on
fitness industry changes titled "The Club of 2020."
"They want to be able to make physical fitness choices on
demand, and they are willing to pay for it."
popular start-up ClassPass and other online middlemen, young
fitness addicts say their days of mindless treadmill workouts
tied to just one gym are over. With a limited number of spots
per class and advance reservations generally required, thereís
a mad rush to get into the hottest classes.
be strict where studios have waiting lists of a dozen or more
people who are hoping someone doesnít show up for a class so
that they can slip into the spot.
Boxing, for example, cancellations with less than eight hoursí
notice cost $10 on top of the price of the class. Fail to show
and thereís a $20 fee. Arrive less than five minutes early and
you stand a chance of losing your class spot to someone else.
sign up as early as two weeks in advance for a coveted spot with
a sought-after trainer such as Cycle Houseís Nichelle Hines,
whose title is chief ride officer. Some instructors and owners
have become celebrities, with reality TV shows and hundreds of
thousands of Instagram followers.
33, has 472,000 Instagram followers and 674,000 YouTube
subscribers. Kwan regularly posts comedy and power-lifting
workout videos that garner more than 1 million views each. Kwanís
"Justkiddingnews" YouTube channel has nearly 1.7
former athlete who also practiced mixed martial arts, wasnít
happy at traditional gyms. So he and his wife, Geo, opened
Barbell Brigade near downtown Los Angeles in 2013. Itís not as
expensive as some boutique gyms, with a day pass costing $20 and
the monthly fee for regulars running $100.
he wanted to re-create the atmosphere he once found in a mixed
martial arts training facility.
were paying top dollar to go there," Kwan said, "but
we considered that place our temple."
Vongpiansuksa tried Barbell Brigade in 2014 and came back for
itís expensive," the 22-year-old said, "but in an
environment like this, people are encouraging you, so it becomes
you investing in the best you can be."
fitness studios mix small-group camaraderie and dojo-like
commitment with coconut water and their own branded merchandise,
such as Barbell Brigadeís line of Dominate Humbly products and
the professional athlete and bodybuilder photos that line the
walls of some traditional gyms, there are selfie walls perfect
for the Instagram-obsessed.
other experts say the social aspect partially explains the
willingness to pay so much more than at a traditional gym.
Millennials may be ready to forgo an alternative social activity
ó going out for dinner and drinking and dancing, for example
ó where the cost can easily run $100 or more.
see your friends at the gym," Zuniga said, "and the
next morning you donít wake up feeling awful. You wake up
House, which specializes in demanding cycling classes, itís
not unusual to see members lingering outside in the courtyard
and at the adjacent coffee shop. But the difficulty of the
classes is the real draw, said Peter Marcos, a customer who
liked Cycle House so much he quit his tech job to work there.
donít want regular maintenance-style workouts reasonably
certain to keep you in decent shape. They want to be tested,
was sold after my first ride here," Marcos said. "I
came out completely refreshed and empowered."
of challenge draws Los Angeles actress Aisha Kabia, who said she
was able to afford a Cycle House class only by using ClassPass,
a membership service that offers discounts on classes at
exposed me to classes that I probably would not have been able
to go to because of finances. A meditation studio, hot
yoga," said Kabia, whose biggest recent credit was playing
a lawyer in 2017ís "Transformers: The Last Knight."
Kadakia, an MIT graduate and a lifelong dancer, said she created
ClassPass to inspire fitness by giving customers options for
different athletic experiences.
first entry into fitness, Classtivity, was a pay-per-class model
that didnít catch on. She rebranded, brought in more seed
money and changed to a monthly membership model for ClassPass,
which has become a $470 million operation.
kicked off in New York four years ago with unlimited classes for
$99 a month. Later, ClassPass increased prices and ditched the
all-you-can-eat model, sparking some customer backlash.
companyís been through a few transitions, as any company does,
in terms of figuring out its product market niche," Kadakia,
have 8,000 partners globally at this point and you can use your
classes anywhere. Many of these studio owners are looking for
new customers to walk in the door, and thatís why this really
works," she said.
House got an immediate infusion of customers from ClassPass,
said Bert Culha, who owns the club with husband-and-wife team
Adam and Lara Gillman.
understand that this costs a lot of money for people, but this
place has become part of their social activity because a lot of
our members switched from going out and partying to going out to
take care of their bodies," Culha said.
Boxing took a different route, founder Milan Costich said. He
decided to piggyback on the growing popularity of Instagram and
approached a model named Kyra Santoro, who then had about
asked Santoro to try his workout and, if she liked it, post
about it on Instagram. She did.
fast-paced circuit training keeps your heart rate up," said
Santoro, 24, who has modeled in Maxim and Sports Illustrated and
is now approaching 1 million Instagram followers.
after her post about Prevail, Costich recalled, a largely female
crowd of millennials started coming to his gym. Costich, whose
two-person staff has expanded to nearly 20, said Prevail has 350
regular members and 1,000 unique gym visits a month.
donít mind paying a premium for a "richer
experience," Costich said.
old-school, full-service gyms, theyíre borrowing pages from
the boutique studiosí playbook.
Gym chain, for example, recently introduced what it calls Goldís
Studio in 40 of its nearly 740 locations and plans to invest
heavily in spreading the concept, which "allows members to
experience coach-led, community-driven and individually adapted
Association of Fitness Studios noted such moves in a recent
some of the big box boys create studio-in-the-club environments,
while others decide to open their own studios, either as brand
extensions or completely new business models," the trade
group concluded in its study. "No sense letting those
profitable training dollars leave forever."