Not all fitness classes are created equal. With consumers in search of wholly unique fitness experiences, boutique fitness studios are here to change the game by offering premium, specialized workouts in a community-focused setting. Boutique fitness studios have set the bar higher than ever before as they not only support the fitness goals of consumers but also their psychological needs for belonging and connection. So, what lies ahead in the future of the boutique fitness industry?
In 2018, a report by Deloitte revealed that the Asia-Pacific fitness industry is valued at US$16.8bn with a positive outlook and significant growth opportunities (Walker, 2018). The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly disrupted this momentum as nations went into lockdowns and boutique fitness studios were forced into closures due to regulations and safety concerns. However, with the vaccine rollouts across the globe, consumers are eager to head back to in-person studio fitness after a prolonged period of self-isolation. According to a GloFox report, boutique fitness studio attendance and class bookings in several regions around the world were able to recover to 91 percent of pre-Covid levels (Weller & Connor, 2020). Singapore and Hong Kong remain as fast-expanding, highly competitive markets whereas other Asia-Pacific countries are still in the early stages of growth.
The global pandemic has also fueled the wellness trend in Asia where consumers are increasingly concerned about maintaining mental and spiritual health, in addition to physical fitness. The boutique fitness industry is also set to thrive due to economic recovery and rising purchasing power of millennials. According to an article, millennials are becoming increasingly motivated to pursue a healthy living, and they are willing to pay a premium for it (Enriquez, 2021) As consumers re-evaluate their lifestyle, boutique fitness studios are presented with the opportunity to boost memberships and reinforce brand loyalty by fostering a close-knitted community that sparks positivity and joy. Creating a unique, personalised workout experience will be the key to meeting rising demand and changing consumer preferences.
Covid-19 and advancements in technology have also reshaped the future of the boutique fitness industry. As fitness studios closed their doors in light of the pandemic, business owners had to adapt and develop new ways to survive. Many fitness studios have adopted virtual workout streaming to circumvent the social distancing measures. Some examples include Boom Singapore uploading pre-recorded videos for its members to work out in the comfort of their own homes, while The Daily Movement’s instructors monitor the performance of their students and provide personal feedback in real-time. This method of recreating in-person workouts enabled people who are cooped up at home to continue exercising and retain their memberships. As such, virtual and hybrid fitness might be here to stay. Boutique fitness studios will need to “future-proof” their business models through ways such as developing their digital capabilities or building a strong online community with booking solutions such as vibefam.
The Covid-19 pandemic and evolving consumption patterns have heralded a new fitness frontier. Boutique fitness studios need to transition into the new normal by providing consumers with a dynamic and immersive workout experience. 2021 and beyond remains a challenging yet exciting time for the boutique fitness industry to innovate and reinvent itself.
This article was written by Joshua Kek.