Move over mighty, big-box health clubs! More people are signing up for the petite-sized fitness boutiques, or personalized fitness studios, ranging from cycling and yoga to surfing classes.
Research conducted by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, better known as IHRSA, found that boutique-style studios now account for 42% of the American health club market. The average gym membership costs about $57 per month while a class at a boutique studio can be somewhere between $25 and $40.
Fitness fans pay up because they like the group experience. The gym is now considered more than a place to sweat, it has become a social phenomenon. More and more, these boutique fitness studios are hot, new places to hang out with friends.
Of course, technology has created easy access to these specialized studios, from booking classes to advertising. Websites can reduce work for employees and drive new customers to try a new class. In addition, with the heart rate monitor, for example, a client can see his pace during his workout and receive an email displaying his results following his workout. These data-driven workouts are popular which provide the customer with the opportunity to know exactly what they are doing in the class as well as their progress after each workout.
With the help of social media, boutique-style fitness studios are reaching new people and building connections with existing clients. Today, more and more consumers are not just interested in a product, but an experience-- a “boutique experience”.
Listed below are five fabulous fitness boutiques around town:
1. Tour Cycle Studio - located in the Warehouse District at 860 Tchoupitoulas between Julia and St. Joseph Streets. They offer daily cycling classes from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tour Cycle Studio is a dedicated indoor cycling studio with 35 Schwinn bikes on stadium-style seating, with heart-pumping beats, and LED lights, all of which contribute to the fun atmosphere. Tour offers indoor group cycling classes led by TOURguides (instructors), including intense interval cardio workouts, as well as TOUR50 classes which add toning exercises for the upper body by using free weights for a full body workout. Actually, cycling participants or TOURists can burn 400-600 calories during each ride! More importantly, the Tour Studio provides SPD clip cycling shoes with the cost of the class. They also offer spa-like amenities, such as sparkling water, towels, stocked washrooms to make those before/post-work and lunch-hour workouts possible. There are no membership options, it is on a pay-per-class basis, with additional discounts given if multi-class packs are purchased.
Tour Cycling Studio appeals to everyone because it is a low-impact workout with a customer base ranging in age from 10-75 years old. At Tour, each instructor has their own personality that shines through during class, and it also keeps each class fun and fresh.
Madeline Spears, the owner of Tour Cycle Studio, said, “Over the past few years, the New Orleans market has seen a surge in boutique fitness studios. These studios have long been popular in other major cities such as New York, L.A., and Chicago. Boutique fitness allows a studio to do one thing and do it well. With all your focus and energy on one type of activity, it allows you to become the best you can be in that area, a 'specialist' of sorts.”
2. Higherpower Cycle/Yoga - 514 City Park Avenue and its new location to open soon at 1000 Girod in the South Market District. Hours of operation are from 5:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. everyday. They offer yoga, cycling and TRX classes, including fusion classes which combine all three disciplines. It is geared to all fitness levels from competitive athletes to beginners. Clients can purchase a drop-in class, package of multiple classes, or buy a monthly membership with unlimited access. They have discounts for teachers and students and also have corporate packages. The studio is equipped with showers so clients can shower and go directly to work or whatever they have planned for the day.
“Higher Power is unique,” Mark Berger, owner of Higherpower Cycle/Yoga, said. “We are very diverse in our instructors, clientele and exercise programs. We are a strong community that supports each other, and we do things together inside the studio and outside the studio, and also do many philanthropic things for our city.”
3. City Surf Fitness New Orleans - 5924 Magazine Street offering classes seven days a week at varied times. The target market is 18-35 years old, but their clients vary from 16 to 65 years old.
City Surf provides six different classes, ranging from yoga to barre to bootcamp and circuit training. They have 14 surf boards available for clients to book, which maintains a small group-training vibe. They have two full bathrooms with showers, as well as a big backyard for events and outdoor classes.
City Surf prices are as follows: a new client introductory monthly membership is only $59, which gives you unlimited classes for 30 days. There is a 12-month ($85 per month) and a 6-month ($95 per month) auto-draft package. These include unlimited classes at all locations (Dallas, Austin, & NOLA), a free tank or tee, nutritional consultation, and early bird invites to meetups and events. The full list of pricing can be found on their website at www.citysurffitness.com
City Surf is a friendly, no-pressure studio where all levels of fitness are welcomed. They strive to be a community-based place where you can meet people and get a great workout in a unique setting. They have 10 different trainers from a variety of fitness backgrounds, giving a different experience in each class. “You will never get the same class twice and will always be challenged,” Becky Hardin, owner of City Surf Fitness New Orleans, said. “Everyone is super-friendly and many have become friends from the studio.”
4. Orangetheory Fitness - 4141 Bienville Street (#107) Mid-City. They are open everyday with a list of 60-minute workout sessions split into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. Orangetheory Fitness encourages their clients to train with heart rate monitors to track intensity and maximize the metabolic burn.
“I started as a client,” Elle Mahoney, owner of Orangetheory Fitness, said. “The main thing is that you are working in a small group with a personal trainer for the one-hour workout. Everybody is wearing heart rate monitors which show up on the screen, displaying your name and heart rate. So, you can see if you’re working out in the green, orange or red zone.”
According to Mahoney, the green zone indicates a fat-burning zone working at 71-83% of the maximal heart rate. While the orange zone denotes a conditioning phase of building muscle working at 84-91% of the maximal heart rate. And the red zone is called the “all-out” phase where you are working at 93% or above of your maximal heart rate.
The cost of membership is contingent on the frequency of attended classes with no contracts. So if you take two sessions per week for one month, then the price is about $13 per class, or if you attend three or four sessions per week for one month, then it breaks down to about $9-$11 per class. There are private showers and lockers for clients to put their belongings. However, towels are not provided. The modern design of the studio features 12 treadmills, 12 rowing machines, 12 Suspension Unit systems and plenty of free weights for sessions for 10 to 25 people. The upbeat music and motivational trainers, combined with the individualized post-workout results which are emailed to each client, keep up the strong momentum of the “Orangetheory experience.”
5. Yoga at the Cabildo with Nina R. Boasso located at The Cabildo, a Louisiana State Museum at Jackson Square in the French Quarter. (701 Chartres Street). Class is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. There is a $12.00 drop-in fee. Classes are $8 when you become a member of Friends of the Cabildo, a non-profit organization. Mats are available at no cost.
Yoga at the Cabildo classes are designed for all levels of practice. “I focus on proper alignment, quality of the breath, and I try bringing a calmness to the mind,” said Nina Boasso, Yoga Instructor at the Cabildo for the past seven years. "It is a very intermediate class with modifications. Most people are comfortable walking into class because they know no one and it is not intimidating.”
Boasso uses the technique of breath for staying calm during the yoga class while the body is being stressed. She said, “Breath is vital throughout the practice to prepare your body for meditation.”
The Cabildo management decided to develop yoga classes in the Spring of 2009 as part of a marketing program to increase membership for Friends of the Cabildo. A single membership to join Friends of the Cabildo is $40.
Boasso pointed out that Yoga at the Cabildo is unique with its amazing space and mixed group of participants. The class is located in a light-filled gallery looking over Jackson Square in the French Quarter, where on most days, live local jazz music can be heard from below.
The class attendance is composed of many travelers from around the world along with local residents from the city. For Boasso and those repeat clients, the location of the yoga class stands as the key attraction mainly because it is located in the heart of the French Quarter and it is always festive.