There used to be a time when getting fit was an endeavor that was done at your local gym or in the privacy of your own home to the tune of a video that promised “Buns Of Steel.” However in the past years the fitness scene shifted from something that everyone could have practically for free to a hedonistic experience that comes with a wildly expensive price tag. People no longer feel satisfied with paying for an all inclusive gym membership that would allow them to go unlimited times a month and take advantage of all of the gym’s offerings. The new trend consists of taking fitness classes in luxury gyms that are referred to as “boutique fitness studios” where you pay per visit to do a very specific workout.
While this trend is not new, it’s experiencing a huge expansion across big cities in the US. These studios make dropping over $30 on a single class seem like the new normal and considering the fact that most people take these classes multiple times a week, working out now represents a huge financial investment. Yet somehow most of these studios are completely packed and some classes at popular studios even have long waitlists, proving that people are willing to pay premium to get fit. This leads to the question:
are we more likely to stick to a fitness regime because it’s more expensive?
It sounds counter intuitive that paying for an individual visit would make you more likely to work out more often than having a gym membership, yet the pay as you go model has been a key factor in these studio’s success. Janine Shub, 24, claims that taking more expensive boutique fitness classes has not only made her visits to the gym more consistent, but has also forced her to be more realistic about how many times a week she wants to work out: “When I had a gym membership I would sometimes skip the gym weeks at a time and I wouldn’t feel guilty because to me that was an undefined loss” She says, “However now that I take Barre classes where I have to pay every time I go, I make sure to only sign up when I’m 100% sure I can make it because I know how much money I would be wasting if I missed class.”
Signing up in advance for a fitness class takes a much higher level of commitment than just having a gym membership. Most of these studios have very strict cancellation policies where once you book a spot you have to cancel anywhere between 12 and 24 hours in advance or else you will get charged a fee. Getting financially penalized for not working out ensures people’s attendance since it ends up being more expensive to miss class than to go and take it.
“I take Soul Cycle and Yoga classes at different studios.” Says Valeria Navarro, a PR executive based in New York “This habit comes at a high price point but at the same time once I sign up for a class I won’t be able to talk myself out of going.” And as any boutique fitness devotee knows there are no two words scarier than “Late Cancel” which is what appears on you booking system when you attempt to cancel a class at the last minute.
While these classes are very expensive, they also allow you to explore and find the exact workout that caters to your taste. It also allows you to surround yourself with people who like the same type of workout and vibe and most importantly, who are willing to drop the same amount of cash as you on a class. The people who choose Boutique fitness studios do place more value on these workouts because they provide them with a sense of status.
“Paying a significant amount of money to take a class at a fancy studio feels like a treat and it’s also a way of confirming to yourself that you are worth the expense” Says Caroline Zwick, a New York based psychologist “By going to a boutique place where everyone else is committed and looks the way you desire to look you feel more motivated. It goes hand in hand with the idea that if you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who are more successful than you are.”
In a city as crowded as New York people are willing to pay extra just to secure a spot in a class. There is no evidence that going to a more expensive class will make you fitter, but since it represents a big financial commitment people are more likely to take it more seriously. Turning a workout into a luxury experience also makes you more motivated to come back. Plus every time you are taking a class and feel like slacking, you remind yourself how much you paid to be there and suddenly you will feel very energized.