Rise of Boutique Fitness Centers

By Taylor Waddle – January 1, 2018

Specialized studios are becoming more popular, especially in cities like Austin where many patrons value the community and individualized attention. But are they worth the high cost of a monthly membership? 

In the past few years, boutique fitness centers have taken Austin by storm. This is causing some people to skip their traditional gyms in favor of specialized classes. These usually include studios that focus on one or two forms of exercise such as spinning, barre, pilates and yoga. These boutique fitness centers are extremely rewarding for some. But is the specialized treatment worth the high prices attached? 

The rise of boutique fitness centers have put them in direct competition with ‘chain gyms.’ It makes sense for people to explore other options if they belong to stand-alone gyms (gyms with equipment, but no classes) or, in my case, live in an apartment complex with a gym included.

However, many chain gyms offer their own classes. So why are people still choosing boutique studios over traditional gyms? Well for one, it can make exercising more enjoyable. Many of these outlets are more modern than gyms; they often play trendy music and some even have DJs and themed sessions. Cycling studios in particular can have a club-like atmosphere, making it easier to forget that you’re breaking a sweat. 

It’s often a good way to meet people. Individualized attention is common at most boutique fitness centers, and therefore you’ll have a better chance of getting to know the people in your sessions. I recently interviewed a young professional, Leyla Mansur, who enjoys HIIT cycling classes at a popular spinning studio. She loves the challenge and uses the high-energy mood as motivation. However, she notes a downside as well; the trendiness can be intimidating. She says sometimes it feels as if “you either have to wear their brand or another top fitness brand to fit in.” Despite this, she says she’ll continue attending these classes as the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks. 

If the steep prices are scaring you off, there are other options! For example, ClassPass and StudioHop made it easier to try out different boutique studios for a discounted price. Currently in Austin, it costs $30 for three classes a month. It’s a great way to figure out what works best for you before you make a commitment to one studio.

However, there is a certain comfort to more traditional gyms. Often, they’re more laid back and less expensive. You can work out whenever is convenient for you — no need to sign up ahead of time unless you’re attending a class. Sometimes you get other amenities included such as a pool or sauna facility. In the end, it’s really down to personal preference! I like to change it up between the two. Some people embrace the fast-paced competition, while others would rather something a little more traditional. Whatever your choice, make sure you stick to classes that are best for you and your fitness goals. And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy your workouts! 



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