- FitHouse/Patrick Randak
- FitHouse is a new workout studio chain that offers unlimited classes for $99 a month.
- The first studio opens in New York in February, and 11 more studios are slated to open in the city in 2018.
- The company is taking advantage of a commercial real estate glut in order to keep costs low for customers.
New Yorkers often spend an obscene amount of money on boutique workout classes.
But this month, FitHouse, an affordable fitness chain, is launching in Manhattan with the hope of changing that.
For $99 a month, members have access to unlimited classes in any of its studios. The first will open on 276 Bowery, near Soho, with seven classes a day. 11 more studios are slated to open this year, in Flatiron, Chelsea, Soho, Nomad, the Upper East Side, and Tribeca, as well as in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The concept was created by French entrepreneur Clément Benoit, a self-proclaimed fitness addict who was tired of spending hundreds of dollars on boutique workout classes each month in New York.
“I thought, this is ridiculous,” he told Business Insider. “Why hasn’t someone come up with a solution to make good classes affordable for people?”
According to Benoit, a boutique fitness class in New York costs $35 on average. SoulCycle is $34, while Barry’s Bootcamp is $36 per session. The average American spends $155 per month on their health and fitness, according to a survey of 1,350 US adults aged 18 to 65 done by sports and nutrition company My Protein.
“Boutique fitness classes have been booming for the last few years but they are not accessible; $35 a class is very expensive and it only addresses people with a certain income,” he said.
Other companies have already looked at how they can offer customers better deals. ClassPass is one of them – it offers members packages to attend boutique studios, but its prices have crept up since it launched. ClassPass started out as an unlimited membership costing $125 a month, and today, it starts at $45 a month for just three classes in New York.
Unlike ClassPass, FitHouse only offers classes at its own studios, and they’re taught by instructors from top workout studios in Manhattan, Benoit said. As there is no third-party studio involved, it’s able to keep costs down, and Benoit is adamant that membership costs won’t creep up because of this.
“It won’t be an offer that disappears like it did with ClassPass. We will maintain the $99 membership,” he said. “Controlling the classes gives us a lot of flexibility.”
The company is also taking advantage of a retail real estate crisis that’s currently impacting New York. An excess of vacant commercial real estate means it is able to negotiate better lease terms. In Soho, for example, one of New York’s busiest areas, the availability rate of storefronts rose from 4.7% to over 23% from 2011 to 2017, according to a report done by The Wall Street Journal.
FitHouse plans to sign up for short-term leases on each location, which means it can trial each location before committing to a long-term lease.
“If we can make a mistake in where we open, we can close fast,” Benoit said.
The new location, which opens in the Bowery on February 20, will be 3,000 square feet. None of the locations will exceed 6,000 square feet. The classes in all of the studios will be limited to non-machinery-based workouts such as yoga, pilates, HIIT training, or weights.