About a decade ago, big-box gym chains dominated the national fitness scene. For around 50 bucks a month, members would get unlimited workouts, group classes, access to locker rooms, and maybe even a pool. Not a bad deal — if not the most glamorous.
Though, after the economic downturn of 2008, individual “boutique” studios began to enter the fitness fray. With a single focus—like indoor cycling, barre, or yoga—these studios were able to offer clients individualized attention, effectively designed workouts, and luxe locker room amenities.
Despite prices of up to $35 per class, people ponied up, gravitating toward these studios and away from their big-box gyms. From 2012 to 2015, traditional gym memberships grew by 5%, while membership to boutique studios grew by 70%, according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).
Today, studios are sprinting toward a takeover of the $25.8 billion fitness market, and there are no signs of slowing down. In fact, it can be hard to keep track of who’s doing what, and where. To make some sense of it all, we’ve made a list of the heavy hitters on the fitness scene with several locations nationwide and a high growth rate. We know this isn’t a fully comprehensive list, but it’s a start. (Who’d we miss? Tell us your favorite local fitness studios on Facebook!)
Below, find out who’s behind 23 of the top fitness studio concepts, what kinds of workouts to expect, and where you can try it out for yourself.
What: The OG strength-and-cardio concept, Barry’s hour-long classes combine cardio intervals on the treadmill and strength training on the floor, all performed under red-tinted “mood lighting.” Workouts change focus daily, between full-body, upper-body, lower-body, and abs. We wouldn’t call Barry’s “beginner-friendly,” but hard work pays off: The company claims you’ll torch up to 1,000 calories per class.
Where: Barry’s is in nine states, including California, New York, Florida, and Georgia. Since 2011, the brand has gone global, with locations in the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the UAE, and Italy.
Best for: A premium workout and price tag to match, Barry’s delivers sweat and status to its disciples.
What: Think of this fast-growing fitness class as a more accessible Barry’s. In each 60-minute total-body workout, you’ll alternate between strength training and cardio segments on treadmills, rowers, and stationary bikes. You’ll wear heart rate monitors to help you reach your goal of staying in the “orange” and “red” zones, aka 84% to 91% of max heart rate, for at least 12 minutes.
Where: Almost everywhere. OTF has studios in 48 states, and is on track to have over 1,100 studios in 2018, including 70 franchises throughout the UK.
Best for: Beginner and experienced exercisers who want to mix things up and take their workouts to the next level — those monitors won’t let you phone it in!
What: The 45-minute classes merge high-intensity interval training, circuit training, and functional movements into 27 different workouts. Workouts range from cardio-based sessions to military-style resistance training. TVs on the studio wall lay out the format of each workout, while trainers motivate and guide you from station to station.
Where: Over 750 franchises have opened across 26 countries in just three years.
Best for: Anyone looking for a high-energy group workout (without all the bells and whistles) that changes every session.
What: This hour-long workout follows the treadmill-slash-strength training formula. You’ll alternate between cardio segments on the “treads” (instructors call out options for walkers, joggers, and runners), as well as strength exercises on the floor using a variety of equipment.
Where: Atlanta and DC
Best for: You’ll see a younger crowd who can really drive the pace, but modifications make people at any fitness level feel welcome.
What: This studio takes its name from the combo of 15-minute strength and tread[mill] intervals you’ll do in each 60-minute class. Designed to cater for those looking for an efficient yet effective workout, Shred415’s classes are designed to maximize muscle gained and calories burned in a fun environment, tailored to every individual’s level and goals.
Where: Nine locations in Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana with 36 on the way.
Best for: Busy parents and young professionals with some fitness experience will appreciate the efficient and effective one-hour workouts.
What: This fitness “movement” hosts free outdoor workouts in parks and other public spaces all over the world. Simply show up at the designated place and time—usually a quirky time in the early morning, like 6:27am—and join the workout of the day, typically a mix of cardio and bodyweight moves.
Where: You can join a local “tribe” in most major US cities, as well as London, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong.
Best for: People who prefer to work out for the low price of $0 (aka everyone). All fitness levels are welcome.
What: Before SoulCycle, it was hard to imagine people would pay up to $30 (or more) for a 45-minute workout. But this brand proved that business model was viable. SoulCycle basically revolutionized the fitness world, with its winning formula of inspiring instructors (many of whom are aspiring actors), chic decor (think: candlelit studios and luxe locker rooms), and rhythm-based rides choreographed to upbeat tunes.
Where: Find your Soul in 80+ studios across the US and Canada.
Best for: Cardio junkies who welcome a dose of spirituality mixed with their cycling sprints — and who are willing to pay up for it.
What: A sportier, more competitive version of indoor cycling, Flywheel classes incorporate technology called TorqBoards that display riders’ stats. Each bike also has individual monitors displaying your metrics. Studios offer both 45- and 60-minute rides, as well as off-the-bike FlyBarre classes.
Where: You can ride in New York, Florida, California, North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, as well as in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and DC.
Best for: Anyone who likes to compete with each other (and themself).
What: This Boston-based cycling chain is hyper-focused on three key ingredients: great instructors (called CycleStars), great music (playlists are called CycleBeats), and an upbeat environment in the workout studio (called CycleTheatres).
Where: Currently, 115 locations are open in the US, with 180 more slated to open by the end of 2018.
Best for: Those looking for a high-energy, beats-driven studio without having to drink the SoulCycle Kool-Aid.
What: Barre has been around since the 1970s, when a former ballerina brought the workout back from the UK in New York. But Pure Barre officially took it mainstream. Don’t worry — there’s no rhythm required: The workout consists of small, isometric movements, upper-body exercises with light weights and plenty of core work.
Where: Pure Barre studios are almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks, with more than 460 studios throughout the US and Canada, and more opening each month.
Best for: Not just for ballerinas, Pure Barre offers entry points for people with any level of fitness experience, from nonexistent to advanced.
What: A more mindfulness-based barre class, barre3 gives you a full-body workout using low-impact moves and minimal equipment (i.e. light hand weights, the barre, a small ball). Each move has three elements—an isometric hold, small pulses, and dynamic moves—that combine to provide a serious burn, along with greater mind-body awareness.
Where: You can find 127 studios in 32 states, with a few abroad in Canada and the Philippines. barre3 also has a robust online streaming program with workouts and nutrition plans.
Best for: Anyone looking for a total-body workout with a side of mindfulness.
What: Expect a fast-paced barre class with energetic instructors, dynamic moves, and a major emphasis on your core muscles. You’ll leave feeling less stressed, more energized, and maybe even standing a little taller. Exhale locations also offer cardio, cycling, and yoga classes, along with full-service spas, in case you’re need of some extra TLC.
Where: Exhale Spas pop up in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, the Hamptons, LA, Miami, NYC, Stamford, and Turks and Caicos.
Best for: The barre devotee who prefers tough workouts in a spa-like atmosphere.
DEFINE body & mind
What: Pick your poison: DEFINE offers two styles of barre classes — “body” and “bounce.” Both involve traditional total-body barre work, but “bounce” also includes mini trampolines, which are said to be 20% more cardio effective than treadmills, with 80% less stress on your knees. DEFINE studios also offer cycling and yoga classes, as well as nutrition coaching programs.
Where: You’ll find the majority of DEFINE studios in Texas, while there are a handful of locations in Florida, Georgia, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, and New Jersey, with more on the way.
Best for: Fitness fans looking for a bougie barre experience with a 360-degree approach to wellness.
What: Each 50-minute class combines cardio, strength training, and Pilates-inspired moves (think: plenty of planks, lunges, and twists) to keep your major muscle groups under constant tension, working them to failure. Utilizing all the bells and whistles on the Megaformer, you’ll you strengthen, lengthen, and tone (hence, SLT) your entire body.
Where: New York City has nine locations, while others are in the Tri-state area and Philly.
Best for: Anyone aiming to improve their core strength, although we won’t lie: Your first class may seem impossibly hard — but since it’s low-impact, newbies will progress and see results quickly.
What: The founders worked with industrial designers and fitness consultants to conceive the propriety “FitFormer” machine that’s used for the studio’s unique workouts. Choose from 40- or 55-minute sessions that’ll work your whole body with a combo of resistance training, lengthening, and cardio.
Where: Studios spring up across the country, from California to Virginia, as well as several international locations.
Best for: All levels are welcome, but you’ll have to first get familiar with the unique FitFormer machine, which is longer, wider, and better suited for different types of Pilates-based exercises than your typical Reformer.
What: This studio sticks with Joseph Pilates’ original method (yep, there was a Mr. Pilates), but modernizes it with high-tech reformers and high-quality teaching. At each studio, clients can choose to get personal with a customized one-on-one workout, or go with a group Reformer class that are offered at several different levels, from beginner to advanced.
Where: Currently the world’s largest Pilates franchise, Club Pilates currently has over 340 studios open and another 700 franchises in the works.
Best for: Anyone looking for a classic Pilates workout with modern equipment. Beginners should keep it up to reap results.
What: This fast-growing yoga chain offers heated and non-heated yoga classes with a focus on strength — both mental and physical. New to yoga? Start with their all-levels C1 class before progressing to C2 or C3. Or if you’re ready to mix it up, check out their Yoga Sculpt class, where you’ll combine free weights with yoga sequences and cardio moves in a heated classroom.
Where: You can “live your power” at 170 studios in 23 states.
Best for: Whether you’re brand new to yoga or can kick up into a headstand in an instant, you’ll find your place with CorePower’s variety of classes. Just get ready to sweat.
What: YogaWorks prides itself on precise, thoughtful instruction that carefully aligns yoga sequences with breath. The majority of instructors have completed their 500-hour teacher training through YogaWorks’ YogaAlliance, so you know your teacher will be up to snuff.
Where: Studios have roots in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, San Francisco Bay area, and Washington, DC, with others opening in other cities soon.
Best for: Any yogis interested in tuning into their bodies and breath through creative yet classic sequencing.
Yoga to the People
What: This back-to-basics yoga studio believes that yoga should strengthen and stretch your arms and legs, not cost you one. The company aims to recapture the “essence” of yoga by providing classes on a pay-what-you-want basis — not that you’ll be short-changed; they offer a mix of power, traditional, and hot Vinyasa yoga classes.
Where: NYC, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Tempe, AZ
Best for: Open-minded yogis on a budget.
What: Described as “results-oriented yoga,” this yoga chain wants to help yogis of all levels reap the tangible benefits of yoga for physical health. Each of their six class styles (Slow Flow, Stretch & Restore, Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, Power Yoga, and Performance) has a specific focus that leads to measurable results, whether you’re looking to gain stretch, get flexible, or just chill the heck out.
Where: Yoga Six has 13 studios nationwide in San Diego, CA; Chicago; St. Louis; Columbus, OH; Milwaukee, WI; and Leawood, KS.
Best for: Goal-oriented yogis who tend to get bored with sticking to just one style.
TITLE Boxing Club
What: We all have a champion fighter within us — you just have to let him or her out. TITLE Boxing Clubs help you unlock that inner warrior with an authentic and transformative full-body workout experience. That said, these studios value ‘fitness over fighting’ mentality, so no real fight training is allowed inside the clubs — it’s all about empowerment, community, and strength.
Where: More than 170 clubs are open across the country and another 250 in development.
Best for: These studios are beginner-friendly (people have lost 50+ pounds thanks to TITLE’s programs), but also accomodate more advanced boxers.
What: If a traditional, gritty boxing gym and a trendy boutique fitness studio had a baby, it’d be EverybodyFights. It has the soul of true boxing, thanks to its Foreman family roots, but it also offers the swanky amenities (nice showers, juice bars, and shops) of a upscale studio. Best of all, you’ll get in fighting shape with their four different class types — boxing, circuit training, endurance, and technique.
Where: Get out your aggression in Boston, NYC, and Lexington, KY.
Best for: People looking to improve their boxing technique and/or general fitness levels will enjoy the variety of classes and swanky amenities.
What: 9Round is a fitness experience unlike any other. The 30-minute workouts consist of three minutes of work at nine different stations with cardio, strength, or boxing exercises, and there are no set class times (the “rounds” start every three minutes, so you can show up whenever it’s convenient). But all the perks are here: It’s effective, fun, and there are motivational trainers to guide you through the workout and show modifications based on your fitness level.
Where: Almost everywhere! 9Round is growing fast, with 648 locations in 13 countries currently.
Best for: Busy folks of any age who can’t commit to hour-long classes, but could definitely float 30-minute workouts into their jam-packed days.