Pay-as-you-go Microgyms Are Scaling Up

Elysium Gyms

In Singapore and beyond, on-demand microgyms are scaling up.

What’s happening: SG-based MyGymLab, operator of tech-enabled modular gyms, recently expanded to ten locations, while rival franchise chain The Gym Pod, which has ~120K users, launched two Chicago sites and plans to roll out across the US as interest rises.

Both concepts feature pay-as-you-go sessions at a private mini gym, reservable via an app. For roughly US$10, anyone can book a workout in an air-conditioned, fully outfitted space strategically placed in an urban environment.

For MyGymLab, setups include a smart screen, weights and Technogym cardio equipment. A more boutique strategy, The Gym Pod’s retrofitted shipping containers come in four disciplines: spinning, yoga, boxing/MMA and functional training.

Why it matters: Microgyms or fitness pods are nothing new, but in the pandemic’s wake of higher overheads, gymtimidation and hygiene anxiety, they are gaining ground with both consumer and fitness operators.

Consumers value the time and cost flexibility, both of which are the greatest barriers to exercise, and personal trainers are co-opting microgyms as personal training spaces, with their on-demand booking and ample premium equipment opening the door for more higher-margin sessions.

An added benefit, with its bare-bones utilities turning off when not in use, operators like those in Singapore are reportedly profitable.

Going Solo

Although many gym-goers flock to clubs for community and motivation, consumer interest in microgyms bucks the trend, with the no-frills, solitary experience spreading all over the world.

  • In London, Solo60 and Elysium each offer by-appointment mini-gyms, while Swing Fitness sets up phone-unlocked equipment lockers across parks and public areas in the city and Milton Keynes.
  • Canadians are embracing microgyms with franchise model Safe Sweat launching FITsuites in British Columbia last year, and more planned for Canada and the US.
  • In the US, Hydra Studios books out à la carte fitness suites and wellness rooms, while prior to unforeseen economic conditions shuttering its business, Silofit had 18 microgym developments across Miami, Montreal and Toronto.

Even high-end hotels are jumping on the bandwagon, with Hyatt trialling private gyms at US hotels and the Mercure offering two solo suites in London.

Increased interest in microgyms is also reviving the B2B space. BeaverFit, renowned in the UK and US for its container gyms and outdoor training pods, is expanding into Australia. Over in Europe, Spain’s Eco Gym launched customisable, solar-powered microgyms in June 2023, and competitor CUBOFIT scaled to 97 sites across the country.

Meanwhile, as the microgym market stays hot, new appetites for wellness have given rise to mobile saunas, like the UK’s Beach Box and Revive Wild Sauna.

Takeaway: Those needing greater privacy and flexibility than a traditional gym could transform their fitness habits with a microgym concept – and businesses can leverage the opportunity for upping footfall and revenue. Although the benefits can’t spread until they scale, their growth may catalyse a global demand for pop-up wellness at the same time.

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