WHY SPECIALIST BOUTIQUE GYMS & STUDIOS?
Have you ever found yourself in a commercial gym participating in a class where you have no idea what’s going on and your only option is to copy the person next to you in the hope you’re getting it right? This is why.
What you’re about to read is a common thing that any enlightened trainee or fitness enthusiast will discover for themselves over time. We call it the “discovery period” in someone’s fitness journey.
… you start out at a local gym doing Body Attack, Spin, Zumba, Les Mills and the like until you realise you’re simply moving for the sake of moving (which is absolutely fine!) and then all of a sudden you “graduate” and realise there are less mainstream options which are highly specialised in their “style and flavour” of training, unapologetically niche and targeted in their programming and coaching style.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
Whatever works for you. That’s ultimately what we say to our members, guests and complete strangers who message us on social media for advice. You do you.
But, we do recommend you find a place that can at least explain the “why” behind what they do and how it’s different to other options. Everywhere has their own DNA and nuanced styles of training and program delivery – the trick is making sure it suits what you’re after.
The head trainer or manager should be passionate enough to be able to articulate what you’ll get for your money. Do they claim to provide a hard and tough workout, get you fitter for running or sport, a slower periodised strength program, rehab or prehab based training for those returning from injury or a place that will get you stronger, fast? Whatever the reason, they should be able to tell you in no more than 2 sentences.
Avoid places that make you sweaty for the sake of sweating with no rhyme or reason and a completely randomised workout which is prepared in the staff room 5 minutes before the commencement of a session.
Find a place that can actually coach you to become better over time. This means, a place where class attendance is capped with reasonable trainer:client ratios. We define this as ~6:1 depending on the complexity of the session and the experience of the lead coach, also if there are any new faces checked-in who will require a little bit of extra love and attention because they are still new to training.
To avoid confusion, in Sydney CBD and surrounding suburbs we define boutique training studios and gyms as $60 to $100 for a weekly membership. Anything that is outside of this price range we categorise as commercial or bootcamp style fitness.
Examples of boutique studios include, but are not limited to F45 Training, Lord Of The Rig, Be Fit Training, 98 Riley Street Gym, Orange Theory Fitness, Undercard, Hustle Boxing, Shelter, Barry’s Bootcamp, Body By Brando etc who all offer very different training methodologies and delivery – we have great working relationships with some of these so that when a member or guest may be looking for an alternative to us and what we offer, we can help them find a new training home. There is nowhere that is better or worse, there is different and ideal fit for a trainees goals which should be at the centre of all advice given.
WHY DOES IT COST MORE?
Because we offer more. Think of it this way, at most commercial gyms i.e. Fitness First, Virgin Active, Anytime Fitness, Plus Fitness etc you pay a weekly fee (approximately $15 to $40 per week) for a general membership which essentially gives you access to the gym floor, usage of exercise equipment, showers and change rooms/lockers. These memberships allow you to attend basic Group Training options. e.g. Spin, Boxing, Yoga, Zumba, HIIT, Body Attack, Body Pump etc.
Very rarely (bare with me while I’m trying to remain P.C.) will these sessions have professional coaches with notable experience, nor will they have much correction in your form, provision for client feedback or questions regarding training. These sessions will usually have 20-40 attendees with one instructor who is merely hoping everyone is doing everything correctly. The sheer volume of this many humans in one room will always dampen the quality of coaching, no matter how good or experienced the instructor is.
Compare the above to any decent boutique studio that has professional coaches (at ION, we define this as coaches who are qualified, experienced and train clients for their sole source of income) who are delivering a periodised program that is created/overseen by a Training Director and Exercise Physiologist which can be regressed or progressed to suit the trainees training age – this is when you realise you truly get what you pay for.
IS IT REALLY EXPENSIVE?
Not really. Not when you consider the expectation at ION (to use us as a specific example) in our training program is that our clients attend 3-5 sessions per week, this works out to be an average of approximately $25 per session – which is cheaper than an outdoor bootcamp or smashed avocado with coffee.
Except, we offer our members exclusive use of some of best equipment in the world, free access to a premium online training platform for when you are travelling or unable to make it to the gym, premium amenities with meticulously cleaned designer showers and changerooms with complimentary towel service, salon quality hairdryers and straighteners and premium toiletries.
In addition to the above, we have also spent hours planning our COVID-19 reopening strategy to ensure the safety of our members and staff. In consultation with hospital-trained professionals ION have implemented strategies such as controlled and traceable access for all visitors to the premises, increased cleaning schedule, hand and equipment sanitiser to be used throughout each class and a number of other scheduling strategies to manage the flow of members. All staff are trained in hand hygiene and how to control the spread of COVID-19. These are just some added benefits of a boutique gym who are in touch with their members and community.
To further enhance your training experience, we have a heart pumping sound system, air-conditioning with silent fans throughout and a purpose-built equipment fit-out with enough equipment to ensure you are never left waiting or without during your session.
Our coaches are 100% dedicated to your success, they will ensure you feel comfortable and welcome no matter how experienced or inexperienced you are. We will know you by name, we will know your limitations and we will always make sure you don’t feel lost in a session.
You also get an overall training experience which we believe is one of the best in Australia, we back that with a no contract, no sign up fee and satisfaction guarantee – if we’re not for you, just let us know and we will help you find something that works for you, because ultimately: that’s all that really matters.
Many of our industry peers offer the above too. So really, if you compare that to the cost of ONE personal training session at a commercial gym (average price: $80 to $120 for a single 45 minute session) where you have to share equipment in peak hours and still have to pay your weekly gym membership fee to access the training area or attend group exercise classes with limited instruction and 30+ people in the class – are boutiques really “expensive”?
Results cost money, it’s a trainee’s prerogative to spend what they deem “reasonable”, but our combined experience of 30+ years in the industry suggests that results are more likely when specialist coaches are engaged and connected with their client in premium facilities.
Find what works best for you, you shouldn’t be stressed about training and general exercise. That completely negates the purpose or training in the first place. The program that works best is the program you can stick to for a prolonged period of time and actually enjoy doing.
Just make sure you ask the right questions and understand the intention of the training program when you are picking a gym to give your money to. It’s a privilege to serve members and all facilities should embody that attitude, no matter what their creed is as a training facility.
Vincent Wong, Managing Director and Performance Specialist