The boutique fitness phenomenon is here to stay, and many health clubs are scrambling to provide members the same intimate experience found in studios.
To increase revenue and retention, follow these insider tips from Indoor Cycle Design, the leading boutique consulting and design firm with over 200 clients worldwide.
1. New… Improved… Improving
Anything new will create momentum but will not sustain momentum. Successful boutiques start small and strong, focusing on doing one thing extremely well. Every 2 to 3 months they introduce a clever surprise to generate momentum and keep clients engaged. Just like the wheel on a bike, someone in your organization must continually turn the wheel to keep moving forward. An event planner is often the first job position these boutiques hire.
2. Zero Contradiction
Indoor cycling encompasses a wide spectrum of styles, certifications and methodologies. Successful boutiques believe in and practice unity by adhering to a single vocabulary of terms and cues, and writing their own operations guide. This prevents instructor contradiction or confused messaging and ensures consistency in every class.
3. What Do You Believe?
In Simon Sinek’s recent TED Talk on great leadership, he said, “Hire people who believe what you believe and you’ll never fail.”
When club employees – from personal trainers to yoga instructors and front desk greeters – all believe your cycling program is the city’s best and take classes or teach, you’ll never have empty seats. Otherwise, ever so slowly, the size of your classes
4. Keep It Clean and Keep It Working
A cycling studio is a sanctuary, and nothing says “we don’t care” like broken bikes and piles of clutter. What about those nagging repairs that never seem to get fixed – microphones that short out and poor quality speakers? Successful boutiques keep extra bikes in nearby storage and their crystal clear sound with flawless acoustics is the heart and soul of the experience.
5. Programming and Special Events
Successful boutiques send happy, uplifting weekly emails promoting theme rides (like Justin vs. Britney), monthly charity rides (local non-profits), guest instructors, and special events. They offer bride rides, birthday party rides, corporate challenges, teen rides (no parents allowed/clean music), rides for recovery, rides for the troops, and the list goes on and on.
6. Eliminate Empty Seats
Successful boutiques know empty seats dilute the value of a class and create negative energy. Studio assistants and/
or instructors in training often fill empty seats to keep perception strong. They also help clients set up bikes and welcome new
7. Music Matters
It’s been said, “Your cycling program is only as good as your worst instructor’s worst playlist.”
Successful boutiques know it’s all about the music and can’t risk one negative review from a mediocre playlist. Workshops on music mixing and showmanship skills are available, and many studios have a designated “music master” to prepare rides for those instructors less technically talented in musicality and mixing.
8. Shoes and Swag
To prevent knee injury and increase performance, cycling shoes can be required and normally included in the fee or rented for a small charge. Walking in cleats on a smooth surface can be treacherous, so be aware of slippage standards to avoid lawsuits.
Logo branded fitness “swag” is a substantial revenue generator, and many studios offer extensive retail merchandise to create brand loyalty. Creating a culture requires plenty of edgy tag lines, slogans, and fun-to-wear apparel.
9. Time Management and Etiquette
Successful boutiques know every minute is valuable and classes start on time. Late-comers are rarely allowed in the studio after the ride begins, and there is enormous respect for fellow riders. Phones are not allowed and talking, once the lights go down, is highly discouraged. For class growth, the last three minutes of each class are vital. Instructors often stand at the door to say goodbye as clients leave and pass out chilled, scented towels during the cool down.
10. Highly Functional Studio Design
As a boutique designer for over 10 years, I create cycling studios through the eyes of an instructor and include an abundance of tools to inspire creativity, prevent burnout, and encourage loyalty/exclusivity. Meticulous details are needed for a fully functional, magical cycling “theater.”
From a generous stage for team rides to hidden ambient illumination and display screens behind two-way mirrors, the studio can be a wonderland of sensory expression and every class is a new experience.
Bryden McGrath is the associate manager of community and social media at Precor and enjoys everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer, from hiking to its picture-perfect sunsets