In the 1980s, the concept of national fitness chains altered the perception of personal fitness being solely for the wealthy. The prices of these chains were low enough that anyone could afford to work out and stay in shape. This model was effective, for a time. With such a large organization, it is sometimes difficult for beginners to navigate the complexity of equipment and find the right program for their needs with little to no guidance.

Enter the smaller, more personalized fitness club. With shorter lines, better and more frequently maintained and upgraded machinery, and advice from professionals when needed, the benefits reaped from attending a boutique gym have begun to surpass the convenience of a large chain.


The draw of the national brand may have originally been its promised anonymity: those new to exercise may feel uncomfortable surrounded by a large mass of people, all of whom have the capacity of judge them. But being one of a nameless mass of gym goers has its downsides. In a smaller fitness studio, the trainers and fitness coaches get to know each person. They can tell when a move is being done incorrectly, and can step in to offer corrections. Being around the same group of people also makes the gym goer more accountable as their progress is tracked by the people who see them each time they visit, and if they slip up or do not come they have a support group who can (for lack of a better term) call them out on it. This is, in fact, motivating, and encourages people to keep up their routine.

The exercise program is also not allowed to stagnate at a small fitness studio. Because the exercisers and the trainers begin to know each other, a personal trainer is able to give suggestions of various changes to be made to keep things interesting and make sure every area is being worked on. A large gym does not offer much variety. Very rarely are there specialized programs, such as CrossFit, P90X, or Barre Fitness. These are the latest trends in fitness that work on total body sculpting, and boutique fitness studios are dedicating to learning about them and bringing them to their exercisers. Large gyms simply provide rows of machinery with no explanation or diversity.

A personal trainer at a small gym is often more committed to their client’s success. They do not have to deal with a large number of people. Smaller numbers at smaller gyms means they have more attention to focus on each person. Some people get the best results out of personal training, so having a focused, dedicated coach with them all the way is essential for success. For instance, the HouseFit private fitness studio in Toronto is small, boutique fitness studio for athletes and everyday people who want the care and attention of a personal trainer without the hassle of working out in a big gym with tons of people around.

The trend of national chain gyms seems to be petering out. With the service, variety and attention available at boutique gyms, it is no wonder more and more people are opting for a more personalized service.