The Fitness Industry Model

Edan Gelt Communications

At the beginning of 2017, I launched a social experiment, branding myself as a fitness mom and started a blog at http://www.edanjoygelt.com. My brand wasn’t far from the truth – I’ve religiously worked out for decades and fitness has always been a part of my life, I just wasn’t an expert athlete. At the start of my experiment, my goal was to understand the impact of social media and obviously reap the benefits from the exercise but what I also gained was a lesson in the advertising and psychology of fitness.

A communications strategist to the core, I was excited by what I learned and couldn’t wait to share.

Profit Model

It’s well known that the strategy behind the lucrative fitness organization includes a monthly membership fee and attendance. The more people that sign up + the more people that don’t show-up = the more profit the club makes.

This strategy has allowed many basic and full-service clubs to enter the scene at varying costs and still be wildly profitable. Clubs may offer bare bones equipment with long hours or great classes and equipment with an assortment of amenities.

Each club prices themselves low enough and provides sufficient value that members don’t find it worthwhile to cancel when they stop showing to exercise. Basic gyms to locations with more amenities range from $10 per month to $90.

SEXperience

Enter the premium fitness experience; these clubs offer fitness to the “who’s who” of society (or those who want to be seen as such). Just belonging to these types of clubs makes the members feel fitter and sexier without evening taking their first class. The shear elegance and notoriety associated with membership demands a higher membership fee and delivers more amenities, better quality trainers and ancillary benefits such as fancy child care, pools with slides, etc.

These clubs offer exclusivity with a member tag of $90 – $200 per month.

Down, Dirty & Real

These are the mom-and-pop shops dedicated to fitness for whatever reason they hold dear (maybe they were a boxer, dancer, yogi) and want to share their experience and train others. They are typically located in commercial districts where the rents are low and the space is plenty.

Value is in the trainers, owners and sense of community among students. These clubs/studios are about the sense of convergence and if done right, they are profitable, mostly affordable and targeted toward one area of expertise like CrossFit, Yoga, Boot Camps, etc. If they can excel in advertising, these models survive and thrive based on reputation and referrals.

Memberships, class packages or drop in rates – or a combination there-of are offered. Prices average about $60 – $100 per month or about $15 a class.

Designer Duds

Newer to the scene: designer duds. In the fashion world – designer duds are the hottest and trendiest gear. In fitness, these are the “popular kids” on the block and include chains like SoulCycle, Orange Theory, CorePower, Pure Barre, etc.

These are AMAZING CONCEPTS, don’t get the “dud” part wrong but there is something to that too. The clubs/studios are genetically engineered and optimized to mix the physical and mental component with SEXperience. Hyper-focused clubs such as these make fitness sexy, chic and popular. Each fitness experience is spun from a corporate web, which has spent mega bucks perfecting climate, fitness routine, music (even volume), and ambiance.

I call them designer duds for 2 reasons, one – they are super trendy and pricey, second – like fashion, they will likely over-franchise, lose authenticity in time and eventually fizzle (think True Religion Jeans) and live up to the “dud”. After all, how many years can you spin in a dark room without getting the itch to do something else?

I still haven’t figured out the lifecycle for designer duds but I don’t see them having a long-term foothold in the industry. Memberships are priced from $150 – $200 a month, or $20 – $40 per class.

Future of Fashion Fitness

As more Designer Duds enter the scene, the full-service SEXperience clubs are stepping up their game. They are changing their class offerings by emulating designer duds, offering smaller group training classes and enhancing private areas to provide a more intimate training experience.

It will be interesting to see what will survive and thrive and what will sizzle out in the next 5-years.

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