We packed our bags and headed to Washington, DC last week – in part to visit some our awesome business partners like Les DeSales and Stable DC – but also to attend the Boutique Fitness Summit. This solutions-focused conference for fitness business owners was just one day long, but it was a jam packed day. Sessions included everything from how to grow revenue to differentiating between licensing and franchising your fitness business. We rounded up six key takeaways from the summit:

1. Millennials are a key market for fitness businesses No surprise here, but Millennials seem to be paving the way for fitness businesses. While this demographic is more apt to use services like ClassPass and would rather take classes at a multitude of studios (rather than committing to just one), they are still one of the key revenue drivers. A whopping 81% of Millennials say they work out or want to work out.

2. Employee success contributes to a gym’s success There was a great discussion amongst studio owners about employee benefits: do you pay your employees hourly or are they salaried? What’s your vacation policy? OrangeTheory‘s Mark Steverson spoke about how pay is tiered, structured on employee performance and the hours of teaching time. Others financially incentivize their staff to fill open slots in classes- most teachers will then post on social media about their class openings, further promoting the studio. Chris Merrit at Beyond Strength Performance is a huge proponent of paid vacation time for his employees, noting how many fitness studio employees rarely take time for themselves. Regardless of your strategy as a fitness business owner, making sure your employees are satisfied and successful is just as important as making sure your clients are satisfied and successful.

3. The industry is growing And it’s growing quickly. The fitness industry is just beginning to be tapped into– and most business owners seem to want to stick with it for the long haul. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, the health and wellness industry is a $30 billion industry that continues to grow at a 3-4% annual clip. Considering the fact that some believe that the first fitness workouts were performed 3000 years ago, this sort of industry growth and longevity is one to keep an eye on.

4. Data is king for business owners Owning a fitness business means you can be peppered with data points — but which ones really matter? At the end of the day, capturing data should also help generate revenue. Using tools like MindBody makes the clients’ experience easier and in turn makes a client more likely to become a regular. You’ll be able to tell which packages are generating what volume of revenue. At the Boutique Fitness Summit, Chris Perrin, owner of Cut Seven mentioned that you undoubtedly need clients who purchase monthly memberships — but don’t discredit those who buy class packs either, as you need a healthy mix of both. With Nift, business owners can easily measure repeat visits along with revenue generated from clients who were introduced to a studio via Nift.

5. Data is king for consumers, too The amount of consumers who own wearables or use fitness-tracking devices is climbing, with no sign of stopping. From iPhones telling people how many flights of stairs they climbed, to Garmin watches meticulously measuring paces for a runner, consumers are enveloped in data 24/7. As a business owner, you can get in on this trend by helping clients measure their individual progress. Clients will likely stick around longer if they know they are moving towards completing their personal fitness goals.


6. Community matters Fitness studios have become social hubs in many communities, bringing together folks to not just get their heart rate pumping but also providing an avenue of support. For many owners, giving back to the community is also a reason to be in business. When your business succeeds, the likelihood of another local business succeeding increases. This is the premise behind Nift, too: when one business thanks a customer with a Nift card, their customer receives a gift to a neighboring business. It’s the simple idea of increasing awareness for a business by paying it forward.


After a full day of speaking with business owners in the Washington DC area, we can reaffirm the obvious: the fitness industry is booming and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. At Nift, we love helping local customers discover local businesses– and one thing is for sure: fitness businesses certainly are an integral part of neighborhoods these days.

If you’re a business owner interested in learning more about how Nift can drive local customers to you, you can request more information here.