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Fitness memberships, workout classes, wellness services, beauty appointments and more.
1. a small store selling fashionable clothes or accessories.
2. a business that serves a sophisticated or specialized clientele.
3. a word used to describe a fitness studio that offers a specialized workout experience.
The fitness industry is forever evolving. From old aerobics tapes to big box gyms, how and where we exercise constantly changes. Amongst the on-demand videos and memberships, there’s one trend that is reshaping our wellness routine: boutique fitness—and it’s here to stay.
But what is boutique fitness? And how does a word that is often used to describe high-end shops and hotels become the new name of a sweat-worthy revolution? It starts with the millions of people worldwide who belong to a fitness studio (a record 18.2 million in the US to be exact) and one of the largest generations in history: millennials. All are looking for the best workout experience.
“I think people in my generation are more willing to invest in what challenges them and makes them healthy,” says Carla Zuniga, a millennial who grew bored of traditional gyms told the L.A. Times.
“This generation has created a personalized on-demand economy," said Doug Hecht, MINDBODY SVP of Consumer Products. "They seek value rather than price, and are spending more on experiences rather than things.”
Thousands of the businesses on the MINDBODY app are considered boutique—offering workouts or services with a high experiential factor, smaller, more intimate class sizes, and strong brand association. Plus, a comradery that can’t be ignored. The whole “vibe attracts your tribe” is applicable here, and a handful of these studios are totally Instagrammable. This breed of studio has become more than just a place of exercise. The great ones have transformed into community-powered lifestyle brands, which aim to exist in every part of their customer’s daily lives.
Ask anyone who goes to a boutique studio why they take classes there, and they will tell you it’s the feeling you’re left with post-class. Customers believe in the message of their favorite studio, the ‘why,’ and feel a strong pull towards the studio’s core values. Lotte Berk, who invented barre in the 1960s, had the right idea when she opened a small basement studio in London, attracting top-notch clientele.
So, what does the future hold for this sector and what are the upcoming trends that will have an impact? Emma Barry—the founding member of Les Mills International and former Director of Group Fitness Programming at Equinox—told WellToDo that she is confident we will continue to see a growth in boutique expansion.
“Boutique fitness will continue to capture the hearts and heart-rates of more consumers as the fitness and wellness purse continues to fill,” said Emma. “…Expect HIIT, bodyweight training, strength, yoga and functional fitness (all top 10 worldwide trends) to continue their presence along with boxing boutiques and recovery/stretch labs.”
But, don’t let the word dissuade you. Booking a class at a "boutique" fitness studio doesn’t have to be intimidating. It doesn’t have to be considered “luxury.” Whether you’re tapping into the Barre3 benefit, flowing hard to hip-hop at Y7, or checking out Beginners Pilates at your local spot, studios of all sizes and reach are using this idea of “boutique” to give you a great workout—and an intoxicating (fitness) experience, no matter what your goals are.
Well, here we are—a couple of months into 2021. A year that we all (still) hope will be much better than the last. This past year was nothing short of a dumpster fire—between the pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and the most dramatic election ever, 2020 was riddled with anxiety, grief, anger, and was just downright exhausting.
Heck—if somebody even dared to ask me how I was doing last year, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and say, “Omg I can’t even.” I mean, what other year can you think of that became its own expression? When something would go horribly awry, we would literally blame it on the year by saying, “2020, am I right?” complete with a sheepish chuckle —and eventually some tears when you realized just how many times you’ve said those words. Seriously, I lost count a long time ago. It was not healthy.
Sorry, tangent—where was I? Ah yes, 2021. The good news is there’s still hope that this year won’t make us want to roll into a tiny little ball on the floor and cry. Well, at least not as much as its predecessor—I’m not a miracle worker, you guys. However, I do have some wellness tips to help you stay just a little bit cooler, calmer, and collected-er this year.
If there’s one thing we learned last year, it’s that wellness is always here for us. Maybe at this time last year, your goal of going to Pilates five days a week came to a screeching halt as fitness studios were required to shut down to protect the community. For a time, we were all frazzled because our usual workouts and wellness routines were turned upside practically overnight. I think I speak for us all when I say that our favorite fitness class, and the community that comes with it, plays a huge role in our overall happiness. The good news is the wellness industry has come a long way in just under a year.
While it is true that some areas still aren’t allowing the in-studio experience for their workout classes due to the pandemic, we have more options to practice wellness safely than ever before. Right now, some studios are allowed to operate with in-person, socially distanced classes—and pretty much every studio broke into the virtual space to provide fitness classes you could participate in from the comfort of your own home. Not to mention, at-home virtual options are typically cheaper and allow you to try our studios from all over the country. With online gym memberships like Mindbody Flex, you can have access to thousands of live stream classes at your fingertips for less than $5 per class.
Look, 2020 was scary. After a year like that, it’s can be hard to tap into a positive mindset. But it’s more important now than ever before to let go of assumptions and focus on the good that 2021 can bring. This shift to acceptance will ultimately help you put your best foot forward in any situation that arises.
Take a step back and try to focus on the things we can be grateful for in this moment. Like what? Well, for starters more and more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, which means things are slowly, but surely, getting back to normal. I, for one, am grateful that my at-risk family members have already received their first rounds of vaccinations and are on the path of staying healthy since they are protected from the coronavirus.
The best thing we can do right now for our mental health is to learn to give ourselves some grace through practicing self-care. And this can look different for everyone. Maybe your version of self-care comes in the form of daily journaling, getting a workout session in, curling up with a good book, or having that glass of wine while taking a bubble bath. Whatever makes YOU feel good—keep doing it.
To keep my mental health in check, something that I’ve started incorporating into my daily self-care routine is practicing mindfulness. Some days that means I focus on my breathwork practice—other days I may scroll through the Mindbody app to find a virtual meditation class or Yoga Nidra class. I’ve also embraced the motto there’s an app for that. Right now, I’m really loving the Headway app because it helps me set daily intentions from the moment I wake up with a morning survey and then checks in with me at the end of the day with an evening survey. Having the ability to write down my goals and hold myself accountable for them has really taken my self-care routine to the next level.
Some days we fall a little short of our goals—and guess what? THAT’S OKAY. Honestly, I think we should all just focus on being okay for the rest of the year. The past year caused us to be tough on ourselves and I encourage you to make this year kinder. Any new goals you set that involve changing habits or overhauling your lifestyle will likely have some setbacks. So, when that happens, remember to be compassionate with yourself.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this blog post is to let go of the illusion that perfection is always the end goal. When in doubt I always remind myself of something my favorite spin instructor (hey Steph!) says: “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content. Just focus on your growth.” Allow that to sink in and make it a goal to remind yourself of this every single day.
And remember: You don’t have to—and really shouldn’t—give up hope that things will get better this year, even if you feel overwhelmed now. Having a positive mindset is never a silly thing. In fact, it is actually quite admirable; you’re an admirable badass.