Functional Training Zones

The ABC’s of Pricing Your Fitness Studio

What am I willing to pay for your product?

I’m no chef, but I know the difference between steak and hamburger.

I’m no connoisseur but I know the difference between a cheap bottle of wine and one that sells for $100.

Your studio is delivering a highly personal experience to your clients, certainly more personal than the juicy piece of meat or the savory scents of the high quality vineyard.

The big box down the street is selling hamburger at $20 per month.   Many of your studio competitors are selling the fitness equivalent of a cheap bottle of wine.  Both might be acceptable for today, but neither is sustainable.

What ingredients need to go into the pricing recipe?  There are several ways to establish the proper pricing for your studio, here are the ABC’s:


A. What are you selling (your brand promise) and to whom are you selling it (your target market)?  Are they aligned?  Would you open a HIIT gym in a neighborhood high in seniors?  Probably not.  And if you did, it probably wouldn’t matter what you charged. Yoga, personal training, or Pilates will almost certainly work out better for you.

And when you do open that Pilates studio catering to seniors, if your clients understand your brand promise and view both the journey and the end result as worthy of what you’re charging – you have the right recipe.


B. Fear not.  Somebody I respect once said, “the greatest resistance to higher pricing is always internal.”  Simply put, most of us are hesitant to raise our prices for fear that we will be perceived as “too expensive.”  Often, that means we’re shortchanging ourselves.  If you’re delivering on your brand promise, then you’re worth every penny you’re charging – and then some. 

The key is to be bold (but not foolish).  If your competition’s getting $xx per hour for his group exercise classes and you’ve got better classes, better instructors, better time options, and a better environment – you MUST charge more.


C. You can’t cut your way to profitability.  A major club chain owner once told me he can’t make money at less than $39 per month for a basic membership.  Last year his market became inundated with competition from all sides – another big box, countless studios, even a new YMCA.  In the face of such intense competition he dropped his price to $29 per month.  And there’s talk he’s considering going as low as $19 per month.

He knows he’s losing money with every membership but he still dropped his price.  Why?  Fear coupled with lack of faith in his brand promise.  The better response would have been new, enhanced programs, an exciting renovation, accompanied by a price increase.  “Our brand has been, is, and always will be better” is the message. 



About the Author

Chuck Leve is the Executive Vice President of Business Development for the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS). Chuck is a 40-year veteran of the fitness industry and proven successful developer of fitness industry