I have been going to gyms and working out consistently since I was 14 years old. This means that fitness has been a part of my life for over 10 years. Since I have moved around so many cities in the past years one could say that I have become really savvy at finding a new gym and fitness routine to incorporate into my new lifestyle. When I moved to New York for me the obvious thing to do was join Equinox since it is a large fitness chain that has locations all over Manhattan and it offers a really wide variety of group fitness classes as well as top-notch personal training and locker room with amenities that could put a lot of hotels to shame.
However in my first few months in New York I noticed something that really sparked my curiosity: Small specialized studios that offer the same type of classes as large gyms (think Spinning, Barre, Yoga) but at a much higher price and sometimes in a single location. I discovered this when one of my really close friends told me that she was going to ditch her gym membership because she would rather do Soul Cycle. To me this seemed really bizarre, I mean why would she ditch her gym membership that includes multiple classes that range through a variety of disciplines for a smaller, more expensive studio that only offered one class? So I decided to investigate.
After a year and four months of trying around 40 boutique fitness classes here are my conclusions: Usually when people have a gym membership they are loyal to only one or two classes and only take class when they are available. At a boutique fitness studio you can take the class you like every day of the week and it is offered multiple times a day so you don’t have to adapt your schedule around it. Boutique fitness studios are small, therefore they provide a community feeling that a large gym does not. At a boutique fitness studio the classes allow a limited number of people so the instructor is more likely to remember you and give you pointers on how to tailor the workout to your specific needs. Since most of these classes need to be pre booked, pre-paid and have high cancellation fees, you are less likely to skip a workout than if you are a member at a gym where the classes are included and you feel that they are “free.” At boutique fitness studios they really pay attention to the client experience. This means that most of them have a nice and welcoming waiting area, friendly front desk staff who remember you and locker room amenities that are comparable or superior to the ones at Equinox.
Of course boutique fitness classes are expensive, but they also keep you more honest. The pay as you go model makes you really evaluate how often you want to work out and what is a realistic plan that works for you. It also makes you more likely to pick an activity you really enjoy and look forward to, which is the whole point of working out anyways!
Reviews of my favorite boutique fitness studios coming soon!