Fitness is in…or, perhaps more accurately, the idea of fitness is in. One out of every five Americans is headed to the gym (or at least paying for a gym membership), an 18.6% increase from 2008, and that trend doesn’t look to be slowing anytime soon.
This growth has helped put the fitness industry in a very sweet spot. In 2015, Americans visited the gym 5 Billion times, more than any other time in recent history. Whether it’s pumping iron, sweating on a spin bike, or stretching on a dance barre, we are obsessed with getting fit more than ever.
This increased devotion to physical fitness has helped propel the health and fitness industry to a $25 Billion per year industry, up 8.6% from 2013. The fastest growing sector of the industry has been boutique fitness studios. Research shows 54 million Americans (according to IHRSA) were health club members in 2014 and of these, 42% were members of a studio.
Companies like Cardio Barre, Barre3, and SoulCycle, have driven big dollars in the fitness industry over the past few years. According to IHRSA, the industry grew by 7.4% between 2013 and 2014 and “much of the industry’s growth has come from smaller boutiques and sport-specific studios.” Americans are spending more every month on membership dues than they did just a few years ago and studio members are spending nearly a third more on average than their big box gym compatriots.
“At the end of the day, we chose Wisetail because of the emphasis on design and storytelling that was fluent throughout their mantra. What’s great about Wisetail is that you can mold the site to a platform that speaks to your brand and who you are.”
Patrick Ryan, Senior Manager of Field Operations and Training at SoulCycle
Small Studio = Big Service
This growth in boutique fitness studios isn’t necessarily new (think Jane Fonda or Aerobics) but this neo-boutique revival has been marked by a few distinguishing factors: unique fitness offerings, a personalized workout, and a social environment. This new variety of fitness devotee has a desire “to connect with instructors who give the sense of being deeply marinated in what they’re doing,” according to a study done by the Kurt Salmon Review. In fact, 35% of traditional gym members said they planned to try a small studio class in the next year, while 14% stated that they planned to cancel their traditional health club membership during the same period.
Studios have been popping up in cities – big and small – across the country over the last decade. Because of the lower overhead to operate these smaller gyms, it’s more affordable to open one compared to a traditional gym. Barre3 realized this early on and has been able to quickly expand its number of studios and client base using a savvy franchise system.
This bottom-up growth has helped keep its locations feeling community oriented. Clients seek out a particular location because they’ll see the same people and trainers week after week. A workout has become more than just about living a healthy lifestyle; it has become a social experience. Clients are increasingly looking towards these boutique fitness studios to supply social interactions in addition to a workout.
Boutique Fitness Challenges
Fostering these types of communities takes a strong commitment to exceptional service and hospitality. Because boutique fitness companies have an increased expectation to supply a specific experience to their clients, they must be light on their feet and respond quickly to changing trends.
– Company-wide communication can be fractured and inconsistent.
– Delivering training to coaches and owners can be inconsistent.
– Creating a cohesive culture throughout the company can be a challenge.
– Trainers and owners lack a way to share techniques with other leaders in their company.
Why Wisetail For Fitness?
1) Streamlines Communication
Communication can be difficult in any business, but when you have locations spread out across the country, there is more opportunity for messages to get lost in translation. Emails and team communication tools only go so far, and without an efficient way to deliver information, communication breakdown can easily occur. Barre3 learned this first-hand as they managed a growing number of locations.
“Before Wisetail, we’d communicate with instructors using a combination of mass emails and Facebook messages. It really was hit or miss,” Said Heidi Waltermire, Barre3’s small business development leader. “We would send out information and cross our fingers in hope they would eventually get the message.”
Barre3 utilized the dialog functionality within the Wisetail LMS to create steady communication streams to ensure each of its locations were getting updates to training and procedures. Using Wisetail’s reporting features, they were able to effectively manage who was and wasn’t getting the required information.
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2) Delivers Consistent Training
Whether it’s a spin class or a yoga routine, an essential element of any boutique fitness class is the specialized workout. Making sure trainers and coaches are properly trained is necessary, not only to keep members returning but also to avoid any safety or liability issues.
Barre3’s focus on cultivating a culture of learning has been a driving force behind the use of its LMS. Providing new content to trainers not only gives a reason for learners to keep coming back, but it also keeps them up to speed on the newest techniques being used by other coaches all over the country. Barre3’s instructors have been eager to use the new system.
Adoption was robust in the first month that Barre3 rolled its Wisetail LMS – branded the “b3 HUB.” Nearly 85% of its instructors logged on in the first month, and within two months that number had reached 100%.
“Our instructor culture is based on a love of learning, so they are all gathering on the Hub for the content and techniques to help them be better instructors,” said Waltermire. “Our training content is now consistently being kept up to date, thanks to the ease of the Hub admin.”
3) Helps Build Culture + Community
Creating a sense of culture and community can be difficult when locations are spread out over great distances. Although each studio might have its own unique thriving culture, translating the same culture throughout the entire company can be a difficult undertaking.
Cardio Barre was facing this challenge head on as they continued to expand their locations. Nicole McMaster, Cardio Barre’s Director of Administration, had started working with her team to build cultural internally. They had even begun to build their own web-based solution until they saw Wisetail. The LMS addressed all the needs they were looking for, especially the community building aspect.
“I really like the fact that you can create a community with other users,” said McMaster. “Being franchised, it seems that each location has a great community, but I’d love to build a stronger community company-wide rather than just per studio.”
Cardio Barre anticipates that Wisetail will not only help build their culture and community within the company but also help instructors talk to each other in a way they currently haven’t been able to do. “Say one instructor teaches the abs section really well, you can go to other instructors and learn off of their teaching habits,” said McMaster.
“Wisetail has been nothing but incredible and very accommodating towards our needs and wants for a training platform. They have been such a joy to work with, and I wouldn’t want to work with any other company for an LMS solution.”
Nicole McMaster, Director of Administration at Cardio Barre