Club Industry contributor Tony Berlant put it simply in his April 1 column: "Why in the world do you want to open your own boutique fitness studio?"
Sure, the studio market is continuing to boom. Memberships are increasing at high rates, as is the number of new clubs and new builds. However, as Management Vision President Rick Caro explained at the 22nd annual IHRSA Financial Panel in San Diego last month, it can still be a challenge for some studio operators to generate and grow revenue over time. In short: Opening a new studio concept can be a risky venture.
One of the primary reasons for this is fragmentation. The health club industry is more splintered today than ever before. This places a tremendous burden on operators to find a niche and make the most of it.
One London-based concept, FaceGym, is opening in New York City on May 22 with hopes of doing just that.
FaceGym founder Inge Theron, an English beauty journalist, launched FaceGym in London in 2016 after failing to find a safe and effective non-surgical solution to sagging skin, according to an April 3 Fast Company report.
“The muscles on your body and the muscles in your face are exactly the same—you have the same physiology,” Theron told Fast Company. “So why wouldn’t you work out those 40 muscles in the face?"
To Theron's point, the brand's tagline is: "It's not a facial. It's a workout."
Theron is opening FaceGym's first New York City studio at Saks Fifth Avenue on May 22, followed by a 2,000-square-foot flagship location on Bond Street in September. The concept is class-based, with packages ranging from $90 for 30 minutes of treatment to as much as $543 for 90 minutes (based on a pound-to-dollar conversion). The former could be in the form of a relaxing, hands-only facial massage class called Yoga Face, whereas the latter could be the all-encompassing I Want It All treatment. This combines "the most powerful non-invasive technologies on the market today," according to FaceGym.com, including electrical muscle stimulation, a radio frequency treatment to melt fat and a laser treatment to target wrinkles.
“[A]t the end, your muscles hurt just as much as if you’d been to the gym,” Theron told Fast Company, referring to the electrical stimulations as "cheek burpies." “There are absolutely moments that are very, very vigorous. ... We call it ‘sweet pain.'”
Theron told Fast Company she was inspired by other studio concepts such as SoulCycle. Just as someone may go to a cycling class twice a week, "you [could] take your face to the gym a couple times a week," she said.
A study conducted in January at Northwestern University concluded that a half hour of daily facial exercises could enhance a person's appearance, particularly middle-aged females.