Workouts at London's boutique studios

Following the release of LeisureDB’s London Boutique Studio Report the team have visited a number of boutique fitness studios across the city.

In the past few months we’ve tried classes at Ministry of Sound Fitness, Equilibrium, The Yard at Third Space, Ten Health & Fitness, 1Rebel, Digme and many more. Check out @thefitness4 on Instagram for more of the team’s fitness adventures.

Equilibrium near King’s Cross opened mid February 2019 and it’s one of the team’s new favourite studios. The elegantly designed workout space and incredible training staff has drawn the team back time and time again. The classes are challenging and incorporate three pieces of equipment: TRX, TRX RIP TRAINER and Technogym SKILLMILL.

David Minton Podcast with Bryan O'Rourke

While in Bologna, Italy for the ForumClub event David spoke about ‘Fitness & Technology’ with Bryan O’Rourke. Please see link below:

Key Information:

David’s Powerful Quote:

“I don't think we're taking a wider view of education in the industry. There are too many suppliers who don't follow through with education, and it's a real shame.”

Highlighed key topics discussed:

Bryan and David, together in Bologna, Italy, for the 20th anniversary of ForumClub, comment upon that country's place in the fitness landscape, where work-life balance is key, and where big companies like TechnoGym call home.

David draws upon his decades years of experience to share three things the industry gets wrong about data today, as well as his beliefs regarding education and the lack of free educational services in the fitness industry when compared to the tech industry.

Bryan asks David to explain the importance of storytelling in the fitness industry, and why some businesses are making a mistake by not better branding their experience and what makes them unique.

David talks about the 2018 London Boutique Studio Report that LeisureDB has just released, for what many consider to be the most competitive fitness marketplace in the world.

http://www.fittechcouncil.org/podcast/077-david-minton-new-consumers-new-tools-new-businesses-live-from-bologna-italy-for-the-forumclub-event

 
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Boutique fitness attracts a wide range of investment

London’s growth in both supply and demand for boutique studios has become the fastest growing fitness segment. By the end of October 2018, London had 278 boutique sites with over 400 studios offering 15,806 classes each week. The popularity of this segment, which sets itself apart by offering captivating experiences providing a memorable visit, is detailed in the new benchmark report 2018 London Boutique Studio Report.

 
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The boutique studio trend should come as no surprise as Barry’s, for example, started in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, 20 years ago and other concepts like ‘spinning’ are even more mature. Boutique concepts are not new; London is awash with cool, hip hotels, bars selling craft beer from microbreweries, wine bars specialising in boutique wineries and there’s no end to the number of baristas adding value to the simple coffee bean. People are prepared to pay a premium to have a story to tell; an experience, to understand the provenance and to be part of a tribe.

Boutique studios are cashing in on this movement and the 2018 Report explores the growth since 2011. Details include studio type, number, classes, location, capacity, extra facilities and live links to the social media channels. A breakdown and history of the main boutique styles (HIIT, Mind & Body and CrossFit) are provided along with charts showing the number of weekly classes across all sites.

 
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This is the most fitness-tainment moment London has known in our time and it’s a safe bet to say the research team at LeisureDB are not only the fittest but most well informed on what makes a great experience, after taking classes at every main brand.

This movement couldn’t happen without investment, imagination and some clever mash-up of athletic-wear, fashion, music, some inventive collaborations and design. In London, the investment and co-branding has been on a more British scale with hype and queues to get into classes more muted than NYC and LA. Crowd Funding has helped brands like 1Rebel, BLOK, Core Collective and Boom Cycle, contributing around £10 million towards growth. Investment firms like Codex Capital (1Rebel), Piper (Frame), Encore Capital (Another Space) and Pembroke VCT (Boom Cycle) are some of the early investors with around £20 million committed so far. Private investment from former and current professional boxers and fighters, local and international franchise operations plus industry specialists are fuelling the growth.

After the investment comes the imagination, design and experience which people are prepared to pay for. BXR, a fitness site with boutique studios launched in January 2017, is a passion project for the undefeated boxer Anthony Joshua. It has been experimenting with ‘drop-culture’ to create demand and urgency, a strategy pioneered by streetwear brands like Supreme and Palace. So, drop in to see the next Joshua fight (it was a great evening), to the Selfridges Residency (a pop-up first) and Victoria Secret (shhh, it’s a secret).

BXR, like top end fashion brands, have developed a diffusion line with three studios on a pay-as-you-go basis called Sweat. BLOK is where fitness meets art in seductive spaces. Celebrity endorsements and photoshoots provide global exposure for their cool brand and studios. The legendary Ministry of Sound nightclub and multimedia entertainment business opened London’s first studio fitness nightclub. Located in the club’s previous back-of-house vault, it takes the club-style sound system plus lighting and pairs it with HIIT classes. Digme (named after a beach in Hawaii) opened in London thanks to Geoff and Caoimhe. Number one in the classes league table is Frame, run by Pip and Joan, who are also busy designing their own workout gear, a concept called ‘MumHood’ and an Academy (no wonder they need the occasional Negroni)! Rize, formerly Movers and Shapers, is growing out in the community with three sites. Ten, founded by Joanne, has grown to eight sites with a more intense version of Dynamic Pilates. F45, where no workout is ever the same, has over 20 studios in London with its many devotees. Another Space has three types of classes and doing a combination of all three is the norm now. There are thirty main brands, with two or more sites, featured in the report with unique benchmarking facts and figures on each.

The scale of investment and collaborations in the USA speaks volumes for the ‘can-do’ positive attitude that flows from the west coast. Venture capitalists, private equity firms, family offices, real estate firms, hotels have all developed an appetite for boutiques and seen how new concepts can add value to their existing investments.

Luxury brands are linking with street power brands and collaborations are going mainstream. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), who have over 60 prestigious brands, partnered with Catterton, a private equity firm, in 2016. The re-branded L Catterton is one of the largest, diversified consumer-dedicated private equity firms in the world. Three of L Catterton portfolio of boutique companies are named in The World’s Most Innovative Companies 2018 by Fast Company.

Included in the Wellness listing at number 1 is Peloton, for bringing the boutique fitness experience into the home. Number 7 is Pure Barre for stretching the appeal of ballet-based exercise and number 8, Equinox, for breaking further into the luxury wellness industry with its new hotel concept. The Equinox owned SoulCycle is at number 6. L Catterton also have investments in CorePower Yoga, the UK athleisure brand Sweaty Betty and for the cyclists reading this, Pinarello.

TPG Growth is another red-hot investor in this sector and Mark Grabowski joined in 2016 after leaving L Catterton, where he worked on the Peloton and Pure Barre deals. TPG Capital, the main investment firm, owns a stake in USA fitness gym operator Life Time Fitness which it took private in 2015 with Leonard Green & Partners from LA, in a $2.8bn leveraged buyout. Leonard Green & Partners purchased the UK’s largest low-cost brand Pure Gym, in 2017. Grabowski has now spun out of TPG, raised his own fund and partnered with Anthony Geisler to buy Xponential with the idea of curating various boutique fitness concepts under one umbrella. The holding company currently has Club Pilates, Stretch Lab, Cyclebar, Row House, AKT, Yoga Six and in 2017 had almost $150 million in revenue. Cyclebar will be the first brand to open next to the new Embassy of the United States in London’s wider Battersea development this year, while master franchises, will be appointed to expand all brands throughout Europe.

Hotels and real estate companies have been expanding the boutique concept to include fitness. Hilton Hotels, a legendary name in the hospitality industry, is listed number 3 in the Fast Company Wellness listing for building hotel rooms that double as gyms with its Five Feet to Fitness initiative. Hilton have also installed 6 Les Mills ‘The Trip’ virtual studios in the UK. Hyatt Hotels acquired Exhale, a 15-year-old boutique spa concept with 25 locations, in 2017 to add to the Miraval, a provider of wellness experiences, to deliver wellness to guests. Marriott International own the five W Hotels in NYC and have partnered with Swerve Fitness locations at Midtown and Flatiron. Guests get a Swerve swag bag and unlimited rides during the stay. At Swerve you ride in ‘teams’ (Red, Green and Blue) for 45 minutes of rhythm rides bringing indoor cycling and team competition.

 
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Another NYC hotelier, Michael Achenbaum, who’s behind the sleek Gansevoort Hotels, opened the Curtain Hotel and members club in Shoreditch, London, with local developer SUSD, May 2017. In the members club soundproofed live music studio, Boom Cycle (featured in the Report) pop-up opened for members. The pop-up has moved on but as Achenbaum says, “boutique, hotels and fitness, are redefining creativity”.

The Related Companies first Equinox-branded hotel with 60,000 square foot gym and spa will join Related Companies boutique brands like SoulCycle and Rumble in NYC Manhattan’s West Side in a new $25 billion Hudson Yards development, a new model for urban renewal. An interesting aside, Thomas Heatherwick, one of London’s most original thinkers, responsible for the new Routemaster buses in London, the Rolling Bridge at Paddington Basin and the London Olympics 2012 Cauldron, is creating his monumental $200 million artwork ‘Vessel,’ a honeycomb like staircase, to be the focal point for Hudson Yards.

This first comprehensive report on the growth of Boutique Studios in London provides unique insight, with benchmarking, into the fastest growing fitness segment. Copies of the report can be purchased and downloaded here.

Article written by:

David Minton, Founder & Director of Leisure DB

January 2019

2018 LONDON BOUTIQUE STUDIO REPORT - OUT NOW

 
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The 2018 London Boutique Studio Report shows that the London boutique studio market is rapidly expanding. There are 278 boutique studios across the city: 114 HIIT studios, 111 Mind & Body studios and 53 CrossFit studios. They offer over 15k classes each week and at any one time, 9.6k people could be taking part in a class.

The 2018 report highlights that the number of boutique studios has grown by 281% over the last 5 years. 2018 has already seen over 60 new boutique studios open in London (up until 31st October), the highest number yet. This compares to a total of 46 in 2017.

F45 Training, with 21 London studios, is the leading boutique operator (by number of sites). They are the first brand to exceed 20 London locations, after adding 16 new studios in 2018. 

Commenting on the figures, David Minton, Director of LeisureDB said: “The boutique studio trend should come as no surprise; fitness is simply playing catch up to other industries. Retail, hotels, food and drink have been establishing small, hip boutique options for some time. People are prepared to pay a premium to have more of an experience and be part of a tribe. Boutique fitness studios are a part of this movement and are cashing in, particularly in London”.

Summary of Key Facts

  • The number of boutique studios in London is 278.

  • There are 114 HIIT studios, 111 Mind & Body studios and 53 CrossFit studios.

  • 61 studios opened between the period 1st January to 31st October 2018, up from 46 in 2017.

  • There are 15,806 boutique classes on offer across London each week.

  • The total boutique studio capacity across the 278 sites in London is 9,629 people (at any one time).

 

Notes

The London Boutique Studio Report is compiled from the most comprehensive review of the London boutique industry, involving individual contact with all sites and the brands featured. The audit was conducted as of 31st October 2018. The audit and resulting figures are compiled by independent leisure market analysts, LeisureDB, who have been monitoring the performance of the fitness industry for over 30 years. Further details of the report can be found here 2018 London Boutique Studio Report.

Further Information:

LeisureDB

LeisureDB (formerly The Leisure Database Company) is a leading independent database specialist who provides key market intelligence and analysis across the industry. Established over 30 years ago, the company works with a wide range of fitness operators, providing member profiling reports, new site analysis, latent demand estimates, statistics and data licenses.

www.leisuredb.com

enquiries@leisuredb.com

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