Think about the gym industry as a spectrum of coaching.

On the left side, we have gyms selling access. No coaching, just a monthly membership.

On the right side, we have coaches selling only coaching: no access without appointment, everything done one-on-one. In some cases, there’s no equipment at all; clients have to join a gym to do their homework.

In the middle, we have group fitness classes.

That’s where things get murky.

Big globo-gyms offer group fitness classes for free with membership or for a tiny rate. These classes are usually minimalist in terms of equipment—like spin bikes or yoga mats or “pump” classes with PVC weights or Zumba. Coaches are mostly following preset choreography (playlists and moves).

Slightly to the right are the group-class-coaching gyms, like Orangetheory or Barry’s Bootcamp. Coaches still follow preset choreography, but the equipment is more varied and the atmosphere is more exclusive. They can be more intense because the clients accept that intensity coming in.

This is where most owner-operator HIIT gyms sit. Unfortunately, it’s also the same chair that Orangetheory and F45 and the others want to occupy. When the music stops, I think it will be the single-gym owner who’s lost his or her seat.

A portrait head shot of blond author Allison Schrager against a cream background.

Allison Schrager, author of “An Economist Walks Into a Brothel” (Courtesy of Allison Schrager)

This is “the middle” of the industry: Gym owners charging more for group fitness classes and slowly being pushed out because they can’t move to the right (toward individualization).

On Two-Brain Radio, I talked with Allison Schrager, an economist and author of “An Economist Walks Into a Brothel.” Allison has a personal trainer she’s never met. She details her experience, then we zoom out to talk about the meta view of the entire industry and the very real threat to the microgyms in “the middle.”

Click here to listen to the interview and share it with a friend.

In the next article in this series, I’ll tell you how Two-Brain gyms are shifting toward the right edge of the spectrum to separate themselves from downward price pressure, low quality control and high competition.

 

Other Articles in This Series

State of the Fitness Industry: 2019
State of the Fitness Industry: Your Brand
State of the Fitness Industry: New Tools
State of the Fitness Industry: Rebirth