At ClassPass, our team works with the top studios in dozens of cities around the world to understand the ongoing trends, pain points, and characteristics that make our 39 markets unique. Now, we want to share some of those insights with you, our readers.

In the first of our series of market profiles, we take a look at our first city and home to the ClassPass headquarters: New York City. 

New York City offers one of the fastest growing — and most competitive — boutique fitness markets in the world. With hundreds of studios offering everything from rowing to trampoline workouts, this is where new trends in the industry often first take shape.

While New York is always changing, we were able to pinpoint some of the areas where the city is experiencing growth right now for our partners.

At a Glance: New York City

Top 3 Workout Genres

  • Strength training
  • Cycling
  • Barre

Barre and strength training classes have remained consistently popular year over year in New York City. Barre classes make up roughly 15% of all ClassPass reservations in NYC, growing by 3.5% in the last year. Despite declining slightly by 3% in the last year, strength training classes continue to account for nearly 30% of reservations on ClassPass. The fastest growing genre is cycling, with the number of reservations dedicated to that genre growing by 10% in the last year.

Top 3 Neighborhoods

  • Upper East Side
  • Chelsea
  • Flatiron

Chelsea and Flatiron are often considered the hubs for boutique fitness in New York City. Dozens of popular studios, such as Flywheel, Mile High Run ClubY7 Studio, Pop Physique, Row House, and more house locations in these two neighborhoods, though the total number of venues on ClassPass in Chelsea and Flatiron have downsized about 9% compared to a year ago. On the other hand, uptown studio presence continues to grow. The Upper East Side saw an increase in the number of venues located in that neighborhood by 18% since this time last year, with beloved studios such as Barry’s Bootcamp and CityRow each opening locations uptown.

Most Popular Workout Times

  • Wednesday 6 pm / 7 pm
  • Tuesday 6 pm / 7 pm
  • Monday 7 pm

New Yorkers tend to work out more often in the evening, with 24% of all NYC classes on ClassPass taking place from 6-7 pm on weekdays. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday hours from 6-7 pm are the most popular times. Consider maximizing your class schedule to meet the needs of busy workers / night owls.

For more of the trends we’re noticing take hold in the market, read on:

Top-Notch Brand Experiences

No matter where you turn in NYC, you’re bound to find a fitness studio within a block or two. The fitness market, while healthy and growing, is saturated, which means as a studio owner, your brand needs to work that much harder to stand out from the competition. It’s not enough to offer a good workout — New Yorkers are looking for experiences in their workouts, so they expect to find beautiful spaces, luxury amenities, and top-notch instructors who are pseudo-celebrities in the field. And with so many of these incredible experiences to choose from, the name / perception of your brand can become just as important as the workout itself.

In a recent analysis of our ratings and attribute data for all ClassPass markets, studios that were described as “sleek” by users were the most likely to have a user return to the venue within 60 days, with an observed increase in bookings of 15%. In places like New York City, users are more likely to readily accept smaller studio spaces that may lack amenities such as a locker room or shower, but in return, they still expect the space to be well-appointed and designed.

Learn more how to channel your branding and build a stand-out customer experience.

Diversify the Method

In New York, part of standing out is specializing in one thing and being the best at what you do, which is why you’ll find many studios dedicated to one particular, unique method. But it’s also a good business practice to appeal to as many customers as possible — and we’ve noticed studios around the city taking note of this. You may have already heard the news that SoulCycle plans to open their first dance/cardio studio this fall to complement their renowned cycling classes. Expect to find other businesses following suit, diversifying their method to appeal to more customers and also bring variety in-house. If you have the means to do so, consider adding a new workout style to your studio. Maybe you’re a HIIT studio that would benefit from a restorative yoga class offered a couple times a week, or a barre venue that could kick things up a notch with a cardio-based session.

Learn more about how to incorporate a new genre at your studio.

The New Happy Hour

While focus on health continues to be an integral part of any workout regimen, the New York market in particular has shown increased interest in fitness as a new social scene. It’s a bit of a stereotype that New Yorkers like to “see and be seen,” yet this rings true in the fitness realm. (Just visit Instagram to witness the hundreds of posts daily about what workouts are happening where and with who). Now, instead of meeting for cocktails, young adults are meeting for workout classes. Studios, take note: many NYC-based studios have found success in merging the two, offering healthy cocktails / happy hour after class, or a workout plus brunch class. It’s a great way to build community, too.

Check out how to get creative with your community and encourage more social sharing with your members.

Work Hard Mentality

As busy people often looking to get in and get out, crossing off their workout for the day, New Yorkers expect a difficult workout. They want it to be hard! A recent analysis of our ratings and attributes data at ClassPass showed that, across our entire network (not just NYC), classes that users rated as “challenging” or “intense” increased the likelihood that users would return to the studio by 18.3% and 17.1%, respectively. In contrast, workouts described as “won’t break a sweat” reduced the likelihood of a user returning by 28%. This indicates that ClassPass users place a heavy premium on feeling like they got a good workout.

Strength training and HIIT studios would do well to showcase the intensity of their classes in their class description / marketing materials — especially if you can say you get this much done in under an hour. That said, New Yorkers love the more restorative sessions too. Meditation studios and restorative yoga methods have seen an uptick over the past couple years and aren’t fading anytime soon. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to find an 8 pm restorative classes in New York City selling out, which just goes to show that balance is so key.

Learn more about how to incorporate mindfulness in your classes here.