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How to Design a Boutique Club Within a Club

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Bruce CarterBruce Carter

One of the most significant changes in the fitness industry in the past ten years has been the growth of personal and group training. As a result of this, smaller clubs that specialize in this type of programming have become more popular. These clubs, often called "boutique clubs" usually range in size from 1,500 square feet to 7,500 square feet and offer one or more classes, such as cross training, yoga, hot yoga, Barre, Pilates, spin, group exercise and personal training.

There are two significant lessons that larger clubs have learned from boutique clubs. First, is that they can be strong competitors "pulling" people away from the larger clubs, and second, they are able to get significantly higher fees than larger competition. For example, recently, the owners of a 16,000 square-foot club charging $29 per month, including spinning classes, were frustrated when a local spinning only "boutique" club at 2,500 square feet was getting $89 per month.

So, one of the things a larger club should consider to better compete is to offer a boutique club within their club. Much of what a boutique club has going for it is its "specialized" personality. It can often appear that the smaller club is better with what they offer even though the larger club has the same offering. This often is the result of how the specialized operation presents itself. The design and decor of the space makes the experience seem more special. Often, too, a boutique club looks like it is worth the much higher fees.

As an example, when you walk into a spin club, it is all about spinning. The lobby and room may have special graphics, lighting and sound system. There is not another focus, for often it is the only focus of the boutique club. These insights should then go into a club wanting to have a boutique club within their club. When doing a spinning room, "pretend" that this is all your club is about. What would you do differently?

It should be noted that the best way to offer a boutique club within a club is to group the rooms together, such as Barre, yoga and group (for a "mind body" area), spinning (which often needs extensive sound proofing) and group cross training. If a new club were being designed, this would be recommended. However, for existing clubs, rooms cannot be moved, but instead, they can be renovated to better accomplish this objective.

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