Five Ways Boutique Fitness Operators Can Crack The Workplace Wellness Market


We’ve partnered with not-for-profit body ukactive to bring you regular insights into the trends driving innovation and opportunity within the UK fitness industry and the potential impact on the global market.

Covering a range of topics, from underserved markets to spreading boutique fitness beyond the London bubble, in the first of this series Steven Ward, Executive Director of ukactive examines how boutique fitness operators can crack the workplace wellness market.

Employee wellbeing is becoming a board-level concern for many of the world’s biggest companies. Corporate Britain is finally waking up to the importance of getting employees active, with innovators like Google leading the way with the inclusion of a fitness studio and basketball court in its new UK headquarters.

And it’s not just blue-chip corporates that are driving the workplace wellness boom. Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England has called on Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to do more to tackle sedentary office cultures, and many are taking up the mantle.

With that in mind, how can boutique fitness operators make the most of these changing attitudes and crack the workplace wellness boom?

Take fitness to the office

One of the biggest barriers to activity for workers is a lack of time, yet many workplaces have perfect spaces for fitness classes. Fitness studio operators who can adapt their fitness programs and go into office spaces themselves will find it easier to garner success.

One example is Exercise in the City, which offers office-based fitness classes including yoga and Pilates. Many corporate workplaces are willing to pay well if you can bring the fitness to them.

Tailor classes to the business

Workers are increasingly looking to squeeze a workout in during lunch-breaks, and many workplaces are becoming ever more accommodating to a mid-afternoon spin session, recognising the benefits it has on productivity.

How can boutique fitness operators capitalise on this boom? Offering shorter or cheaper ‘lunch-hour’ special classes, shorter classes of 30 or 45 minutes, and tailoring offerings to large firms, could all be powerful additional revenue streams. Special events are working well too, with 1Rebel recently hosting specialised corporate workout classes for some of the City’s top firms including PWC, complete with luxury touches like chilled towels and high-end grooming products.

Accommodate sweatworking

Top corporates are progressively swapping out traditional boardroom meetings and networking gatherings for more active ‘sweatworking’ sessions. This is an excellent opportunity for boutique fitness studios which offer high-end luxury settings with high-octane fitness offerings.

Ensure your studio is meeting friendly – offer group class bookings and a good space for a chat after the fitness session, to take advantage of this growing trend.

Partner up

Working in direct partnership with blue-chip corporates offers a guaranteed income and a chance to tap into high-income markets. An increasing number of workplaces are looking to partner with high-end fitness brands as part of their workplace wellness schemes. So, for boutique fitness brands that operate within walking distance of some of the world’s largest companies, this is a no-brainer.

Indeed, FTSE 100 firms such as RBS and intu teamed up recently with outdoor activity initiative Green Gym. This saw employees engage in fitness-linked gardening projects to transform green spaces and improve links with local communities.

Be ready to pounce on new opportunities

Keep on top of the latest developments in workplace wellness to ensure you can leverage any changes in government policy or trends in the workplace.

For example, ukactive is leading a major lobbying campaign for the government to expand its Cycle to Work scheme, to offer tax incentives on fitness classes, gym memberships and activity equipment.

If passed, this would further encourage businesses to turn to the activity sector to get their employees moving, and boutique fitness operators should be primed to capitalise.


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