Why Millennials Prefer Small, Boutique Studios

It’s no surprise that living a healthy, active lifestyle is more prominent now than ever before.  The gals of ToneItUp.com and Kayla Itsines are common names floating around Sunday brunch. Even more so, if you aren’t a member of a local CrossFit, SoulCycle, or Pure Barre… you can’t spin with us!

Millennials make up 48% of all 18+ regular exercisers who do gym-type activities.  What is driving millennials to these one-off studios over the standard gym environment?

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association (IRHS) 2014 Health Club Consumer Report, boutique studios that offer a more personal approach to fitness and a softer ambience than big box gyms are a growing part of the $22.4 billion U.S. industry, amongst other factors.

A Sense Of Community

As a generation known to collaborate and share ideas creatively, it only makes sense that millennials thrive on group classes as motivation to push one another and partake in a community environment that shares a similar interest.  According to IHRSA, “While millennials embrace technology, they also retain a fondness for people. they’re certainly not interested in working out alone on the fitness floor.” 

Holding each other accountable to show up and sweat it out is another driving force.  Running or riding solo can be mindfully painful and lead to bailing before your goal is accomplished.  With a friend by your side and an Apple Watch keeping you on track, the competitive nature ensues to drive through that final milestone.  A recent Gallup report shares, “Millennials want to be healthy, but they also want a purposeful life, active community and social ties.”

Ginger Boermeester and Alexa Pozniak are the co-owners of Life-Cycle Wellness, a Boston-based fitness studio. They say approximately 30% of their members are millennials. “Millennials value camaraderie, being around like-minded people, and more personalized attention, all of which you’ll find at a smaller studio,” admits Boermeester.

Wallet Friendly

The cost of most chain gym sites can be expensive and come with many restrictions.  Discount sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer affordable 5 or 10-class packages for new clients (always read the fine print).  This allows fitness fanatics the chance to mix up their routines while bouncing around local studios and maintaining a financially stable conscious.

"Millennials have a greater inclination toward saving, for both emergencies and retirement, than we've seen from previous generations," says Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride, CFA.

Commitment Free

Of the 53.3 million millennials currently occupying a cube in the workforce, many are tirelessly burning the midnight oil between work, an intense travel schedule and maintaining a social life (do you remember what that is?) That means the less commitments, the better.

It’s no secret that averages wages are lower today than in recent years. With the insecurity of a steady paycheck hitting their wallet, millennials tend to stray from a long-term commitment to, well, anything.

Pozniak agrees that this generation of fitness goers don’t like to be tied down, which is why different class package options like the ones that Life-Cycle Wellness offer tend to be more appealing than being locked into a membership contract.

The upside to independent studios is a contract-free invitation and the willingness to “drop in” at any time. Whether you prefer to jump around locally, trying out recommended studios in a new city, or taking it month by month, the option is always available and doesn’t mean signing over your first year’s salary. 

Since 2008, obesity has climbed by at least three percentage points for all generations except millennials, for whom obesity has actually declined by more than 0.5 points. It’s obvious that millennials are aware and taking the appropriate measures, regardless of what style of fitness that may take to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For millennials, the satisfaction in achieving a toned, fit body alongside friends, with minimal financial burden, is success enough.


Katie Devlin is a Portfolio Marketing Manager for IBM Customer Experience Analytics portfolio. She has over four years of experience in the digital marketing space spending a majority of time on the technical sales team supporting the IBM Commerce portfolio.  A graduate of the University of Connecticut, she enjoys fashion, travel and fitness.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/katiedevlin

Twitter: @IAmKatieDevs