So you have a great idea for a fitness class, but nowhere to teach it? No problem.
Plenty of instructors are setting up shop in studio spaces, outdoors, and even in corporate offices to build a client base.
305 Fitness founder Sadie Kurzban, a 2012 Brown graduate, started teaching cardio-dance party classes while still in college and later held them out of various spaces like New York’s Stepping Out Studios. Now, she has three locations, 2 in NYC, 1 in DC, and another one coming in Boston. So while there’s definite proof you can grow into a brick-and-mortar space, if that’s not in the cards for you, there are other ways to make it work.
Minal Mehta started BollyX, a Bollywood-inspired dance-fitness program, in the summer of 2013 in Boston. “It started as a concept for a class,” she says. “Then we started teaching everywhere or anywhere, and people started falling in love with our program.”
Mehta had two choices: Branch out by continuing to teach the program to other instructors who could then teach it anywhere, or set up a studio. She opted for the former and now runs a train the trainer model, a franchising concept. Instructors come to her to learn how to teach BollyX for an entire day, spending a one-time fee of $200-300 and then a $20 per month subscription to be a member of the program. Membership includes a library of choreography, marketing materials, continuing education and various tools for social media and merchandise.
“Not setting up a brick-and-mortar allows us to really focus on our community,” Mehta says. “A lot of times, it doesn’t matter that that class is happening in a certain venue, it’s more that it’s an extremely talented instructor who has the charisma and can lead an effective workout.”
From a financial perspective, the business model can be helpful for those not looking to manage an entire space. Mehta says it’s taken stress off of any concern she would have had about profit.
“If I had a studio location, I’d have to concentrate on running the operations of the one location and being able to pay the lease, but with training the instructors, I can be laser focused on training them, which provides a high level of service,” she says.
There are other ways to explore alternatives to the brick-and-mortar route. November Project is a free fitness movement that sets up shop in various outdoor spaces across cities all over the world. Bootcamp Republic teaches in various studios and corporate spaces, including CAP21 Studios in New York, where HIIT IT!, Kore by Kelly and Broadway Bodies are also taught.
Mehta suggests using spaces where Broadway shows and performers rehearse. But if those aren’t available in your town, look for mom and pop dance studios.
“They’re always looking for new fitness concepts,” Mehta says. “Plus cities usually have public programs that volunteer fitness classes for the community, and that’s a great way to get your foot in the door and start to build a following.”