Fitness startups making waves

March 03, 2014

Fitness is big business. Many people these days work in offices, and don’t get to move around as much during the day. Thus, exercise needs to be formalized. Fitness chains are a great place to get a good sweat in for a busy person.

However, they can also be quite expensive. Some of them are over $100 per month, and can get even pricier with unique classes or special amenities. The high overhead costs associated with running a huge gym are often passed onto the consumer, who in the past had relatively few choices if they wanted to get moving.

Now, however, startups are encroaching on space that was once the sole providence of gigantic chains. These smaller upstarts are disrupting the $21 billion industry. They are providing many of the same benefits of larger companies with more customization and lower prices.

Some of these new companies are device-based, like Fitbit. They allow you to track your workouts automatically and upload pertinent information. Others are bare-bones gyms, which dispense with frivolities but provide a cheap alternative. Some are even web-based alternatives like YogaGlo, which provides customized online content for classes of 30, 45 or 60 minutes. Best of all, you can do them, on demand, without leaving the house.

Bigger companies are feeling the heat.

In an article on Businessweek, author Hannah Steiman detailed the pressure they’re facing, and the toll its taking on their bottom line.

“Large fitness chains are already feeling the burn. Last week, Town Sports reported that revenue fell 1.8 percent in 2013 and total membership dropped 2.5 percent. Life Time Fitness also reported 2013 earnings last week, and although it had healthy revenue and net income increases, memberships rose only 0.3 percent in 2013. Attrition in the fourth quarter jumped to 9.8 percent, from 9.1 percent in 2012. Gyms have always had high membership attrition, but the proliferation of low-cost competitors is making it harder than ever to keep customers,” Steiman explains.

If you have a flair for helping people get in shape and are thinking about starting a fitness company, incorporating your business is a good start. Being a small company doesn’t mean that you can’t compete with established brands, especially if you’re offering a unique service and are willing to work hard.