High-end fitness clubs have always been around. Most of them are small regional clubs. One could certainly argue that Equinox was the first mainstream high-end, luxury fitness chain.Over the past five years, there has been a proliferation of fitness clubs that have gained popularity via social media and other communication channels that have expanded from regional chains to nationwide, and in some cases, worldwide operations. Additionally, Millennials place a high value on health and fitness, and many no longer feel like the standard $29/month 24 Hour Fitness membership is good enough. Additionally, these high-end concepts have done an exceptional job of selling their products as much more than fitness; they've marketed them as "lifestyle" plays where you somehow feel more elite and refreshed by a high-priced workout vs. a low-priced workout - it's absolutely brilliant if you ask me.  

But...like most high-end discretionary spend, it will be interesting whether these concepts have the stickiness with customers to withstand some type of economic downturn.  On one hand, my guess is 'yes', given that the clientele that these concepts have are less affected during downturns. On the other hand, fitness concepts tend to be very fickle and people always want to try something new, which is why ClassPass is a very interesting and likely sustainable concept (it offers tons of variety).  In any case, it will be interesting to see what discretionary spend items Millennials start cutting in a potential economic downturn.  Here is a sense of some of the prices of a few of these fitness concepts:

  • Equinox: Think W Hotels meet Fitness Club.  Sometimes more a 'place to be seen' than a place to work out. There's a funny saying that "people work out at lower tiered gyms before they feel comfortable joining Equinox." Membership prices range from $160/month to $175/month for single club access, and $195/month to $250/month for global access.  There is also an initiation fee of $200 - $300 based on membership access.
     
  • SoulCycle: A 'revolutionary' approach to the traditional spinning class. SoulCycle has spawned a number of similar concepts - all are pricey at around $35 per session. SoulCycle filed an S-1 in July as a precursor to its IPO, but still has not hit the public markets. 
     
  • ClassPass: A very unique concept that offers a network of different independent health 'studios' that encompass a number of different types of exercise (dance, yoga, Pilates, etc.)  It is a membership-based structure and the price in NYC is $125 per month.  You can visit the same studio up to 3 times per month.
     
  • Pure Barre: One of the hottest new concepts. Pure Barre utilizes the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements set to music - a total body workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs, abs, and arms, and burns fat in record- breaking time. Prices range from $25 - $35 per session.
     
  • Barry's Bootcamp: Bootcamp style workouts gone high-end. $30 - $40 per session.
     
  • Crunch: Another general fitness club (like Equinox) that brings an upscale atmosphere with the amenities to match to the normal gym concept. Membership prices range, but are on average, $100 per month.
     
  • Pure Yoga: High-end yoga studio in select cities around the world (almost exclusively in Asia). Their only studios in the U.S are in NYC where they have two locations. Monthly memberships range from $155 to $280 per month (there is a $15 premium to access both NYC studios). 

As you can see, the individual sessions can add up in cost quite fast. If one were to do two SoulCycle classes per-week, that's $280 per month. One SoulCycle class in-itself is more expensive than a monthly membership at a lower-class gym like 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness.