"Members are no longer just numbers, they're teammates, coaches and students, and the classes can meet the needs of any individual with any (to no) athletic ability," founder of UFC Fit, Mike Dolce tells of the new breed of gyms.
As new gyms rise in popularity they’re out to challenge the traditional one-size-fits-all fitness clubs and the way we have previously perceived gym culture. Boutique, bespoke, microgyms — these are all the current buzz words labelling the luxe, smaller type fitness studios that focus primarily on a single activity like Yoga, Pilates, Spin or have even now grabbed onto popular trends and fused them into hybrid workouts (hello Xtend Barre!).
If you were to split the fitness world in half it would look something like this: those who prefer to glide through their workout in complete Zen, and those who grunt, sweat and generally go-hard-or-go-home for at least 60 minutes every single day. While it's not uncommon to feel intimidated by the big giants, what with their supermarket-like gates herding the masses, enormous cardio and weight sections and locker rooms to rival any other public wash space, but for some, these are the very things that drive them to work out. So for the rest, what is it that makes these smaller gyms so unique?
For Ben Lucas and Kate Kendall of Sydney's Flow Athletic — who offer quality fusion classes to suit the time poor — their philosophy stems from wanting to be in a community and to feel a part of something. "We saw that no one was really marrying up the athletic mindset with quality yoga and so we became really passionate about sharing the benefits that we both took from the combined workouts, as well as getting people together in group fitness," Kate tells POPSUGAR Australia.
Like Flow Athletic, many of these boutique studios offer not just the best in-class expertise, but a way of training that many of the large clubs can’t provide. As Kate explains it’s not just about moving and stretching, it’s about getting together with like-minded people and having fun. "Similar to the way that the research from Special K showed that women in particular have more motivation when they train with a partner or group," says Kate.
Immediately when entering one of these gyms you lose that anonymous feeling. Not that the bigger fitness centres aren't friendly, that's not the case at all. Smaller (niche) studios mean smaller class participants, staff get to know you better and ultimately, there’s more camaraderie being passed around the water station.
"I think people also like to feel like they're being looked after as well. We simply don't have the space to fill more than a certain number in each class, which means we get to keep an eye on everyone to make sure they are moving in a safe and sustainable way. We value function and foundations above speed or load and provide classes that allow the athletes and yogis to work their way up when starting out," says Kate.
Surely they must be more expensive to sign up, right? No, not at all — many membership prices are comparable to that of the biggest fitness centres around. But, before you jump up know this: a single class could set you back anywhere from $20 to $30, so committing to a contract will end up saving you a lot if you're devoted to making it a regular habit.
With their aesthetics being compared to that of a high-end fashion shop, community-like feel and excellent services, it comes as no surprise that we’re seeing more of these bespoke gyms pop up. Our prediction is that they're not going anywhere soon and we’re likely to see more hybrid classes take centre stage, which is great because we all need workouts to be more time-effective and diverse, right?