There’s a revolution happening in fitness.

Yes, it’s a revolution. In 2005, my sister Alex and I opened the very first ’boutique’ indoor cycling studio on the east coast of the United States.  Aside from Yoga, there were virtually zero dedicated fitness studios in our community or in the entire metro Boston area.   It took a few years, but that cycling studio became highly successful and was the core model for a cycling studio franchise that has opened over 100 studios.  Not only that, but within 5 miles of our location there are now no fewer than 25 boutique fitness studios: Cycling, Barre, Bootcamp, Rowing, Pilates, HIIT, Yoga, Dance, Hybrids…and more.

A 2017 Trend Report Study by the Association of Fitness Studios notes recent explosive growth in fitness studios over the past few years and notes

  • Niche classes are a key trend driving growth
  • Independent studios are exploding in numbers fitness professionals explore becoming entrepreneurs
  • Differentiation and diversification are key
  • Technology and metrics are improving and driving growth
  • Medical connections and medical benefits are a positive impact

My own observations as a studio owner, franchisor, and long time participant  are that boutique fitness studios are having a profound impact on the way people view health, wellness and in fact lifestyle.   These places are no longer “gyms” to workout at.  Great studios are true communities that provide physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual nourishment.  Because of this…..more and more people are participating and the business opportunities are exploding.

Imagine having a fun, profitable business that makes people healthy and happy.  Here we explore the business issues around this idea.  Read up and let’s connect!

Bill Pryor

Boutique fitness studio market growth

In 2016, the number of U.S. consumers attending fitness studios increased 15% on a base of 15.9 million (general health clubs declined 3%).  That’s amazing.

Each year IHRSA, a leading industry trade association, publishes its annual ihrsa logo“Health Club Consumer Report” tracking a variety of consumer trends in fitness . In the big picture,  aggregate fitness participation grew 3.6% in 2016, and has grown by 26% since 2009.  But here’s the part that really struck me:

“….Members….belong to multiple facilities across club segments. In 2016, 32.2 million Americans were members of a traditional commercial health club…a decline of 3% from 2015.   Another 18.2 million indicated they belonged to a studio, an improvement of 15%….”

3% decline for traditional health clubs but 15% increase for studios.  That is a huge increase in one year on a base of 18 million.

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 8.18.50 AM

Source: IHRSA 2017 Health Club Consumer Report

The IHRSA report is very broad and tends to focus more on consumers in traditional health clubs, but in recent years has begun to recognize and discuss niche and boutique fitness in a more direct way.  In another post, we list other interesting ‘nuggets’ from this report.

2017: 100 studios open!

CycleBar Logo 1Hard to believe but the small dedicated cycling studio we launched in 2005 is still cranking…..and the CycleBar franchise company we helped co-found now has over 100 cycling studios open!  CycleBar riders are enjoying classes from coast to coast.

Our path was interesting to say the least.  My sister and I had zero fitness business experience and at the ages of 45, and 50 we launched the first cycling studio on the east coast.  It because successful, solid and profitable within the first 2 years and proceeded to grow for the next 10.  With that track record in z9xDr9nhSgCwSmyiZyPKTg_thumb_6d7hand, we were approached by a franchise development company; we partnered with them, and together built a company that was ultimately acquired by a private equity group.  That company is working today to further enhance and expand.  Wow, our funky little studio idea paid off.   Over those years, we learned a lot — hopefully we can help others looking to make a mark in this business.

CycleBar riders are today riding in:

Wellesley, Mass. (Boston)

Detroit
studio lobby

Indianapolis

Minneapolis

Nashville

Louisville

Florida:  Orlando, Tampa, Sarasota, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Naples, Boca Raton, Miami

Ohio:  Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus

North Carolina:  Charlotte, Raleigh

South Carolina: Charleston, Hilton Head, Greensborough

California:  Los Gatos,  Culver City,  Berkeley, Novato,
Laguna Hills,  Fresno

New Jersey:  Fort Lee, Wyckoff, Hoboken, Closter

Atlanta, Phoenix, New Orleans, Memphis, Fargo, Seattle, Boise, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Lubbock, Madison….and many more

Full list visible at www.cyclebar.com

 

Status Report: CycleBar Franchises…..Off the Charts!

CycleBar, the first indoor cycling studio franchise company was formed in April of 2014.  Principal owners of the new entity are a combination of experienced indCycleBar Logo 1oor cycling studio operators and experienced franchise system developers.  When we crafted our original business plan in mid 2014, we projected a reasonably conservative number of franchise commitments beginning in early 2015.  Boy were we wrong.  Local demand for this concept has blown our expectations out of the water.  As of March of 2017:

  • 157 franchisees have committed to 285 locations in 32 states
  • 74 Studios are open as of Q1 2017, 100 expected by June
  • New franchisees are committing  at a rate of 5 per week

Franchisees are local owners committed to building community businesses in markets they are familiar with.  The essence of the franchising model is to provide professional branding, marketing, technology and best practices to local ownership.  That frees owners to focus on community building, customer service and creating the best experience for riders.  If you are interested in joining us on this wild ride, let’s schedule a chat.

Spynergy Consulting has operated cycling studios for 12 years and has worked closely with over 80 individual cycling studio startup projects. We have recently formed a new company called CycleBar: the first indoor cycling studio franchise. CycleBar will provide a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.

Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios, operations, branding, marketing and more.

6 reasons to launch your own boutique fitness studio studio

If you are evaluating the prospect of owning a fitness studio, here are a few of the things I found attractive about this kind of business.

1) People become passionate about your place and in many, many cases you are making a real difference in their mental and physical health.

studio lobby2)  For most studios,  your hours are limited to the times there are classes, it is not a business where you need to be physically present for long consecutive stretches (like retail or restaurants)

3) The business model is a good one…..Financially, if you can reach a certain attendance level — extra revenue after that has low incremental cost associated with it.  Staffing wise, it is a simple model, cash flow is good because money is pre-paid by customers so  there are not significant receivables.

4) Your clientele becomes a close community.  Because of your business, they interact with you and with eachother in a wide variety of ways.

5) Virtually 100% of your customers pre-pay for services, and most of that payment comes online.  Thus, no worries about cash in the studio, and no billing or accounts receivable issues.  These models are great for cash flow.

6) Decisions you make every day directly impact the  success of your studio

CycleGiving is part of the CycleBar DNA

The Wellesley, MA CycleBar has been in business for 12 years….and has tried a variety of ways to draw new riders into the studio:  Advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, printed collateral, various signage….and more.  All with modest results and high expense.

Harry Victory_Spynergy_Portraits_912In 2010, we ran one of our first “CycleGiving” (charity fundraising) rides, and since then it has exploded into a powerful engine that has dramatically impacted our studio as well as the dozens of franchises that have recently opened.  The model is simple:

  • We make certain class slots available for fundraising rides
  • We connect to small and large local causes looking to raise money
  • We provide the facility and instructor
  • The ‘Cause’ group brings riders in and charges “per bike”
  • 100% of the proceeds goes to the charity 

helping%20handThis has been an astounding boon to our business.  As of this writing, we are running 3 to 4 CycleGiving rides PER WEEK.  In the first quarter of 2017, our studio has generated over $25,000 in donations to dozens of local causes.  At the same time, these in-studio events have driven hundreds of brand new riders and first time visitors into the studio.

Simply put, CycleGiving is now an integral part of the DNA of our business….with the following results:

  • Raising money for great local causes
  • Connecting CycleBar to the community in a powerful way
  • Driving new riders into the studio

Instructor Philosophy: One example, the essence of CycleBar

Most boutique fitness studio concepts are ‘instructor-driven’, as much or more as they are ‘workout driven’.  If you ask boutique fitness-goers why they prefer one cycling class, yoga class, or bootcamp class over another….in the same studio, the answer is almost always “I liked the instructor better”.  In my opinion a) finding and b) training top talent is one of the top challenges for business success.  Your studio can get everything else right, but if you miss on this piece, you will struggle.   Here is an example of an instructor philosophy from one successful cycling studio.   I am not recommending this as a philosophy, just showing one example that has worked….there are many.

What Sets CycleBar instructors Apart?

Katie 3_Spynergy_Portraits_161First and foremost is a personal energy that is genuine, motivating and engaging: an ability to inspire and entertain, while providing an amazing workout. With that energy as a baseline, the further key to CycleStar instructor uniqueness is our commitment to providing a compelling variety of styles and classes.

All CycleStar instructors need great energy and genuine passion, but a proven way to appeal to your community is to hire a diverse instructor team (including men, women, younger people, older people, athletes and non-athletes), with a broad range of musical tastes, styles and personalities.

variety |vəˈrīətē|
noun: the quality or state of being different or diverse,
the absence of uniformity, sameness, or monotony…

Without variety, exercise is typically drudgery. With variety and special energy, exercise becomes much more than a workout; it becomes an experience. A compelling, riveting, addictive, emotionally satisfying, fun experience.

 

Dedicated indoor cycling studios, a market on the rise.

Note:  the post below from 2015 has not yet been updated because it has literally become too overwhelming to track growth.  I believe it is reasonable to believe there are double the studios today (early 2018) than there were in early 2015.   CycleBar, the largest cycling studio franchise company started in 2015 and now there are several other franchise companies as well as growth from Soul Cycle, FlyWheel and a variety of independents.

Indoor cycling classes are one of the top group exercises in North America and around the world for good reason.  When they’re done right, these classes are tremendously effective workouts that can thrill and inspire.  Historically, they have been done in large multi-purpose fitness facilities,  the exciting news we have discovered is that independent cycling studios are on the rise!  In the last 3 years,  the business model has come of age.

Late last year, Spynergy Consulting completed a comprehensive review of independent cycling studios in North America*.  How many indoor cycling studios are there in the US and Canada?  A relatively small amount, but the number is growing.  Our estimate is that there are less than 625 dedicated  studios in North America, but over 200 of those have been launched in the last 12 months alone, and dozens more are in the works.  Compare this to yoga where there are between 7,000 and 9,000 studios, and we believe there continues to be huge potential here for the committed entrepreneur.

*For the purposes of this analysis we have defined a “Dedicated Indoor Cycling Studio” as a facility where group cycling classes are the primary activity.   Some of these studios also offer other classes (yoga, zumba, pilates, etc.), but their primary activity is indoor cycling or SPINNING®.   I have not included group cycle-training programs inside retail stores or other facilities.

Here is a summary of key findings about the dedicated cycling studio marketplace  (remember, this data does not include cycling and SPIN® programs being conducted at multi-purpose fitness centers and health clubs).

  • While the number of cycling studios is growing, it is still on a very small base.  Spynergy Consulting estimates there are just 625 dedicated cycling studios in the US and Canada
  • California has the most studios, followed by New York, New Jersey and Florida (note: yes, these studios can do well in “warm weather” states).

There are two major national cycling studio chains:  Soul Cycle and FlyWheel.  These are privately held NY-based companies that do not make franchises available.  In January of 2015,  the first cycling studio franchise company CycleBar launched with a turnkey indoor cycling studio business franchise.  .

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6 Reasons a dedicated studio can out-cycle big health clubs

We launched our first studio in 2005 and have had 11 consecutive years of growth in attendance, revenue and profit.   How is that possible when we have a ’boutique’, pay-per class offering, and big health clubs nearby offer cycling classes or Spin® classes as part of their low-cost membership?   A cycling studio, done well, is a classic “niche” business.  The good ones create a unique, effective, entertaining fitness experience that health clubs don’t.  They work for a few reasons:

1) Focussed Mission. A dedicated studio pays attention to the details and focuses on one thing:  the best  classes possible.  Equipment, sound system, decor, amenities, teachers………are the best available.

2) Convenience.  A studio is single purpose, “in and out”, simple, easy to reserve, easy to purchase, easy to participate.

3) Flexible payment / no membership commitment.  In a studio, you can pay-per-class and when you don’t attend….you don’t pay.  People are increasingly turning to “best of breed”  fitness offerings from boutique studios and don’t want to be locked-in to long term memberships.

4) Customer experience. No waiting in lines, no getting “shut out”, no calling the night before to reserve.  You can easily reserve online, show up 2 minutes before the class, and enjoy!  The environment is comfortable, and the classes are not just a workout…they are an experience!

5) Community. A small intimate studio encourages sharing and interaction amongst students if they so desire.  Instructors and students interact to optimize fitness, growth and enjoyment.  Local charity fundraisers and other events are a key part of the studio vibe.

6) The little things matter. Quality sound, outstanding teachers, attention to detail, lighting, mirrors, equipment, announcing schedule changes and subs, personal touches, amenities

Spynergy Consulting has operated cycling studios for 9 years and has worked closely with over 80 individual cycling studio startup projects.  We have recently formed a new company called CycleBar:  the first indoor cycling studio franchise.  CycleBar will provide a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.
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Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here
 to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios,  operations, branding, marketing and more.

Bill Pryor
bill@cyclebar.com
wellesley.cyclebar.com

CycleBar Logo #1

 

A Business that Gives Back….innovative, powerful marketing

helping%20handThere are a number of features that make the fitness studio model attractive:  it is highly automated,  relatively easy to operate, it’s a fun product and it can be highly profitable when executed well.  In the case of certain owners, it can also be a local business that has a unique ability to give back to the community.

A boutique fitness studio is the most local kind of local business.  Because your core visitors attend classes 2-5 times per week, they tend to live nearby.  Long commutes for fitness are just not practical for most.  Since they live nearby, they know each other and they come to know you and your business well.

As you begin to connect with your community, you will come to hear about dozens of organizations, charities and causes that your clients are passionate about.  You will now have a unique opportunity to help those clients by hosting fundraisers, community mixers,  and charity events.   Your studio will have empty studio time, and there is an opportunity to develop, easy-to-manage event-planning systems where you can make the studio available to your community.  These kinds of studio events do several important things.

  1. They provide needed funds to good causes important to your area
  2. They raise the profile and visibility of your studio
  3. They bring new people into your studio to get the experience 

Hosting community fundraising events is a true WIN-WIN-WIN.  The charity wins because they raise money, the attendees win because they get the unique cb logo sigfitness experience, and the studio wins because awareness and exposure is heightened.  Note:  the cost of running these events for you as a business owner is very low.

Yes this is a business that makes people fit.  Yes, this is a business that is fun.  Yes, this is a business that is highly automated, and Yes, can be is a highly profitable business.  It is also a business that is uniquely positioned to help the community you are a part of.