Gyms Are The New Nightclubs

Imagine this: you gather your girlfriends, get dressed up in your finest gear, and head to a dark room to sweat it out together. The pyrotechnics are the same, and there’s a DJ pumping out loud music – but the dance floor is covered in stationary bikes and you’re not wearing heels, you’re wearing cycling shoes. Swapping actual bars with smoothie bars and sambuca shots for ginseng shots, this is the world of fitness nightclubs.

This provides you with the Cadillac of gym services, however. A ‘Precision Running Zone’ contains treadmills kitted out with O2 vaporisers that filter out nitrogen gas to allow the body to work harder and a valet service that launders your gym kit on the spot and gives you fresh, warm towels. Deborah Hughes of private member’s club and gym hybrid Third Space told the Guardian that people consider them “the Soho House of the fitness world”. For £140 a month, you can get your fitness journey started right with a scan of your body fat and even have your blood checked (for an extra fee, of course).

It gives people a chance to dress up, go out with friends, meet new people, get a sweat on – and all without the hangover.

As with most things in the 21st century, social media is partly to blame for the rise in boutique fitness. Like brunch with the girls and dinner with the boyf, a snap of your workout is the thing to share online. Places like the popular London dance class Seen on Screen actively encourage members to film their sessions and post under #SOSWEMADEIT.

And it seems everyone is embracing this growing trend. Last year, Ministry of Sound launched their own fat-fighting class, Ministry does Fitness. 1Rebel’s website boasts a promo video that looks like a Glastonbury Shangri-La rave. Plus, the desire for trendy athleisurewear is surpassing our want for going-out clothes – in 2016, the sale of sportswear had risen to a whopping £7 billion.

It plays into the saying that being fit is a way of life. People are integrating fitness into every aspect of their lives, from social to wellbeing to fashion. It gives people a chance to dress up, go out with friends, meet new people, get a sweat on – and all without the hangover. A night out without any of the regret – really, what could be better than that?

Every gym has a different name for it, but the premise is always the same: a high-energy, pumping music workout where people are there to sweat, make friends and have fun. And it’s an economy that is booming right now – research by Mintel shows that an estimated 5.4 million Brits use health and fitness clubs, compared to a minuscule 1% in 2011.

This gives the value of private health and fitness clubs a significant boost and is thought to surpass the £3 billion mark this year, up from £2.9 million in 2016. This is hardly surprising when you consider the price of a membership at these fitness boutiques that run such classes as an early morning cycle rave or a night-time high-octane HIIT class. For example, to become a member of E by Equinox, which opened in London earlier this year, you must pay a £500 ‘initiation’ fee, followed by a £350 subscription fee.

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