min. rEAD

boutique fitness

Let me preface this article with this:

  • These are only words and they are from someone in the same boat as you.
  • This is a prediction based upon the past, I might be wrong!
  • I apologize in advance, if you feel strong disagreement at some point.
  • Before you leave though, please consider adding your point of view to the conversation ongoing each week at Pilates Business Pros Facebook 

The boutique fitness business mid-2022 looks very different from before February 2020. We've learned a lot. We've known small disruptions of our businesses before. Uncomfortable and inconvenient, yes, but not game-ending before 2020. From a business point of view, pandemics are just larger scale disruptions of revenue. Caught off guard and unprepared meant game over for over 12,000 facilities in the USA alone between 2020 and 2022. 

That was then. Now that we know about the threat, and can prepare for next time, it doesn't have to mean game over. We simply have to get strategic and plan for it. The best news is that if we NEVER get another major disruption, we’ll be even more successful because we're running our businesses in a way that compensates for our known vulnerabilities. We become more resilient by operating our businesses strategically and thoughtfully. 

This article is Win-Win-Win thinking For the Boutique Fitness Industry

  1. 1
    You, your family and your business wins
  2. 2
    Your clients win
  3. 3
    Our shared industry wins

Who In the boutique fitness industry doesn’t want to win?

Predictions of How the Boutique Fitness Industry Will Look

Some will survive, others won’t. Then there will be those that thrive. What do you suppose will be the difference between them? That’s simple. Business is really much like a game. There are rules. You break them, you are penalized. There are playbooks with strategies and tactics. Practice them and start winning more. There are big plays like the Hail Mary pass in football or the 3-pointer in basketball. Mastering them takes practice. Do that, score more. Knowing when to use them takes understanding either through experience, or by thoughtful analysis of the wins and losses of the past. Mastery comes with knowledge and practice.

The next generation of boutique fitness industry champions will be;

  • Those that master the game of business.
  • Understand the defensive and offensive positions they can take, and when to take them.

In business, it’s the smartest that actually thrive under any conditions, and the boutique fitness industry like every other is a competition.

The boutique fitness industry is also uniquely suited to evolve under these new realities. There is an opportunity right now to do what independents rarely do -

 embrace cooperation.

Use it tactically as part of a strategy to position a handful of small boutique fitness players on a far bigger global playing field. One mindset shift is all it takes; just one. So why wouldn’t you make it? There are billions of dollars there compared to just hundreds of thousands in the traditional local playing fields we’re used to.

Intrigued? I hope so. Because if you are, you are already showing a characteristic that says you may be one of those handful that thrive rather than survive. 

You may not agree with me, but let me invite you to stay with me. Ask yourself

  • Is your opinion based on thoughtful research, facts, data and sound business principles?
  • Or is yours the opinion of an experienced industry veteran that is simply hoping that things will not be bad again?

Whatever you answer, the difference in those two mindsets are profound!

What Is Clear about the Boutique Fitness Industry after 2020

  1. 1
    Our businesses can be forced to close for public health reasons with little notice or knowledge of the duration expected.
  2. 2
    The service business model of money for your time is what makes us vulnerable. When the doors are closed to your nearby clients, the doors are closed to your primary revenue.
  3. 3
    True secondary revenue must come from a buyer profile that is not the one trying to get in your "sometimes closed" front door. It must come from a buyer who prefers to open a different type of door. A portal if you will, and they’ve been doing it for 50 years. In the 70s it was the VCR. Today, it’s the internet.
  4. 4
    Secondary revenue is NOT simply retaining existing in-person client revenue by using alternative methods to deliver your expertise.

3 Boutique Fitness Industry Groups Will Emerge

Group 1: The Boutique Fitness Industry Graveyard Group 

This one has 3 subtypes:

  1. 1
    The “misguided adapters experts”. They executed toward what they believed to be secondary revenue. It wasn’t. They did it independently, and tried to become “the creator of massive amounts of content” expert. They realized too late the limits of their time, resources, expertise and reach, never achieving true and sustainable secondary revenue streams. Spending and working themselves until they couldn't anymore.
  2. 2
    The “did nothing to adapt expert”. They were either somehow unaware of the last disruption, or in denial about it, and the real possibility of the next one. They simply failed to take any action and had to quit.
  3. 3
    The “lifestyle experts”. They didn’t need the revenue because they have resources besides their fitness revenue. They had the luxury to quit at any time it suited them so they did, and moved on comfortably to other pursuits.

Group 2: Boutique Fitness Industry Strive to Survivors

This group will make up the vast majority of the active overworked and underpaid players.

These are the misguided adapters that survived but didn’t adjust their plans. They are surviving but just barely because;

  • They remain committed to creating massive amounts of content independently, while simultaneously managing their in-person teaching activities when conditions permit.
  • Most of their content generates little or no revenue; mostly due to:
  • Limited audience size
  • Limited cash for buying access to the necessary amounts of traffic
  • Varying content quality with respect to being designed and aligned with clearly understood target client profiles.

Most of us looked like this for the first year from March 2020. We didn't have the benefit of hindsight so we made it up as we went along, many following the lead of others.

Those remaining in this group are staying the course.

  • Working harder with 2 businesses/service lines. 
  • 1 or both producing average to below average results.
  • Taxing their resources to the limit and compromising their quality of life.

Group 3: The Boutique Fitness Industry Thrivers

This small group will be the big winners in the next 10 years and beyond.

They are former misguided adapters from 2020. Now they have evolved. They realized their results relative to efforts were too small. So they stopped to do this:

  • Join a cooperative like Fitstreams.club
  • Stopped going after 2nd revenue as independents
  • Stopped trying to be a “massive amount of content creator”
  • Realized 2-fold wisdom
  • Being 1 of 1000 boutique experts each creating 1 course is more valuable to consumers than what any independent could ever create alone.
  • The cooperative allowed them to give their energy to where their passion lies, working with clients, while the cooperative markets FOR THEM globally.

The cooperative was important to them because it had:

  • Analyzed the industry situation, it’s chosen actions, effort levels and resulting revenues.
  • Developed multiple other ideas correcting for mistakes and misunderstandings, and made new choices from those ideas.
  • Planned for more streamlined processes supporting optimized, principled initiatives.
  • Started setting goals and executing with discipline, utilizing automation whenever possible.
  • Began monitoring results against goals always adjusting toward scale moving forward.
  • Began seeking out new cooperative members and aggregating value toward scale


I may be wrong but it's not likely. Here is why I am confident:

  • History is instructive
  • Success in business depends on rules and principles
  • Numbers don't lie

Even if I am wrong, and the worst does not happen again, the small thrivers group is going to be far more prosperous with a better quality of life than the 1st two groups. This is because of adherence to principles and planning for actual secondary revenue from a secondary client, not just a second form of revenue from the primary client.

Additionally, they don’t have to create massive amounts of content alone. Their collaborative group collection is a massive amount of content on an entirely different scale, and at a uniform and consistent quality that speaks the buyer profiles language. Best of all it’s marketed cooperatively and globally, on autopilot. 

Whether you're a veteran or a freshman in the boutique fitness industry, the question you should ask yourself is this:

Do you want to survive or do you want to thrive?

Join the Conversation every Tuesday on the Pilates Business Pros Facebook page. Your opinion and lively debate is welcome.

We also welcome your comments below!

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About the author 

Mark Firehammer

Co-Creator Fitstreams.club, fitness biz consultant at Fitness Business Pros, a veteran digital marketer and marketing educator. Plus a lover of cats, and he can sing! Just ask Alexa to play songs by him.

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