The Explosive Growth Of Posh Fitness Studios

By Katherine Peralta
The Charlotte Observer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From home-grown concepts like “Hilliard Studio Method” to well-known national chains like “OrangeTheory”, new, high-end, boutique fitness studios have been popping up all over Charlotte in recent years.

The Charlotte Observer

Liz Hilliard knew 2008 was a risky year to start a business — let alone one that falls into an “I don’t really have to do it” category like fitness, she says.

But that year she and her daughter, Clary, still launched Hilliard Studio Method, a Pilates-like regimen that incorporates weights and resistance training. The Myers Park studio exploded in popularity, garnering almost a cult-like following right away.

“That to me said everything. People are willing to make a sacrifice for their health,” Hilliard said. She and Clary opened their second location last summer in Davidson, and launched a sister concept called HSM — Core, which just opened its second location in Stonecrest earlier this summer.

From home-grown concepts like Hilliard Studio Method to well-known national chains like OrangeTheory, new high-end, boutique fitness studios have been popping up all over Charlotte in recent years. And their fast growth suggests Charlotteans are willing to pay premium for fitness.

Data show the interest in boutique studios spreads well beyond Charlotte.

From 2012 to 2015, membership surged by over 70 percent at fitness studios across the U.S., according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Over the same period, membership at traditional fitness clubs grew by 5 percent, and dropped by 12 percent at non-profits like the YMCA.

The explosive growth of posh fitness studios comes at a time when consumer brands of all kinds are feverishly chasing millennial dollars, analyzing their spending habits and trying to figure out how to win them over.

Young Americans, in particular, are doling out less of their cash on cable and at department stores, and more on fitness and technology.

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