Toronto fitness studios facing huge influx of US competition
Torontonians are in the best shape of their lives! Or at least that is what the sudden influx of gyms and spinning studios would have us believe.
US fitness chains like Equinox, Orange Theory, Pop Physique and SoulCycle now call Toronto home. They're competing against homegrown outfits like Torq, The Rosedale Club and MOVE Fitness, not to mention established players like Goodlife.
So with all these newfound workout options in our midst, is this a great time to be in the fitness industry or have things moved too fast?
This is an industry that can be pretty cutthroat. Toronto has had a long list of popular fitness brands that ultimately didn't make it. Some might remember names like Extreme Fitness, Diesel Fitness and Premiere.
William Sautner, owner of The Rosedale Club, thinks US chains realized an underserved market in Toronto's high-end gym world and swooped in.
"The big chains like LA fitness, Equinox and Soulcycle figure it’s an untapped market and have the money to make it work, so here they are," he says.
He also believes there's a lot of room in the middle. Ivan Ho, general manager at Fit Factory Fitness, agrees.
"Equinox does a great job capturing the high end market, Planet Fitness does a great job capturing the lower income suburban market."
In fact, Planet Fitness has major expansion plans for Ontario this year. Their $10 membership model captures a huge audience and is stiff competition for smaller, local gyms who simply can't go that low.
"New places are coming to Toronto," admits Torq's Julie Mitchell. "But it’s actually good for us because it’s not that we’re trying to share the same customers, it’s that we’re actually finding more customers as a result."
"I think this rise in boutique options is really interesting," she says. "People don’t want to be part of a big gym, they want specialty, and don’t want to be tied to big commitments. They want to be able to go to different places, belong to two or three different types [of gyms]."
Whether the US chains' gamble on Toronto's fitness market pays off in the long run remains to be seen. Until then, in a very Canadian way, locals are kindly welcoming the competition.
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