Gym Jeeves: Yes, You Can Hire a Fitness Concierge

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Left to our own devices, we find a plethora of reasons to skip our workouts. Maybe a fitness concierge would help—if you can afford one.

So to keep clients engaged in their exercise regimes, companies in trendy fitness meccas like New York City and Los Angeles are offering and scheduling highly personalized workout plans that turn the entire city into a gym. Clients avoid the rut of sticking with one routine and instead can take advantage of the cities’ most coveted studios and trainers.

“We started incubating the idea during the rise of the boutique studio,” says FITiST co-founder Neda Talebian Funk. “Individuals are increasingly booking things and shopping online, so we created a one-stop-shop for the best of the best in boutique studios and fitness and wellness providers in New York City.”

The idea is to mix up the workout regimen by allowing clients to dip into a pilates class with the “it” instructor of the month on one day, a kick-boxing session on another and a P90X session the next. Or, for those who prefer it, a yoga “crawl” of the city’s most popular sessions.

In June 2011, Funk and her partner Caroline Levy Limpert launched FITiST, an online platform that allows users to book curated packages of classes with top fitness experts and studios. Members pick a plan, such as “Mom-To-Be” or “Slim” and receive a workout guideline with a mix of expert-recommended classes to meet their goals. Members then sign-up for their classes at their preferred studios through FITiST, instead of visiting every individual gym.

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“We consulted with premier trainers to figure out the right number of classes a month for each plan. We figured out how many spin classes, how many yoga classes and how many Pilates classes are needed,” says Funk. Members can also buy non-goal oriented packages or create their own customized plan. FITiST currently serves New York City, the Hamptons and Los Angeles, with plans to expand into at least eight more cities from San Francisco to Miami.

Fitness concierge services boast an insider knowledge of the trendiest studios and instructors, which is a high selling point for clients who want to avoid vetting classes and trainers themselves.  SIN Workouts (short for Strength In Numbers) founder and personal trainer Vanessa Martin, launched her concierge service in August after friends and training clients continually asked her for the scoop on the most popular studios and instructors in major cities.

“There are lots of workout places everywhere, but you don’t want to be stuck in something you don’t like. You don’t want to be matched with an [instructor whose] personality that doesn’t go with yours,” says actress Pauletta Washington, wife of Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington and longtime SIN Workouts user. Martin sets up yoga sessions for Washington in every city she relocates to for acting jobs.

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SIN Workouts offers two basic membership options. In the first package, Martin tailors a regime for her clients based on their personalities and schedules. One client’s plan may consist of FlyWheel Sports spin classes on Mondays and Barry’s Bootcamp sessions on Thursdays, while another prefers standard yoga classes throughout the week. “I take care of creating their studio profiles, signing them up and reminding them when their classes are. I pair them with nutritionists, massage therapists, acupuncturists. Basically anything they are looking for in the fitness industry, I take care of for them,” says Martin.

In the second package, Martin accompanies her clients to their classes for extra motivation. “There’s more accountability when others show up to work out with you. There’s more retention and success in following fitness programs,” says Martin. For clients willing to pay extra, Martin offers added perks like car service to workouts. Her service is largely referral-based, but she’s expanding her online scheduling in November.

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Perks add up, and using a fitness concierge service isn’t cheap. SIN Workouts’ baseline membership starts in the triple digits, and FITiST membership packages range from around $115 to $550, with the average member paying about $300. So while it’s not for the majority of us who need to get moving, there is a market for such customized fitness services.

“With the term ‘concierge,’ we are definitely catering to a specific demographic,” says Martin. “My average client is a housewife for the most part. They have the flexibility in their schedule and are looking to be pointed in the right direction.”

Funk says the typical FITiST client is a woman in their mid-30s who is well versed in the latest  exercise trends and eager to try out new programs. “We cater to fit-conscious men and women who are usually highly educated professionals who commit a lot of time and money to their fitness and wellness,” she says.

Which is the target market for boutique studios, and those make up the bulk of a fitness concierge’s go-to gyms. “Clients who are committed to finding new places to workout are committed to working out,” says  Amanda Freeman, owner of the popular Strengthen, Lengthen, Tone (SLT) Megaformer class in New York and a FITiST studio partner. “These are obviously the clients you want. It’s a good resource for us to reach new people.”

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Are the services excessive? Perhaps. Effective? The high-paying clients certainly think so.

“This isn’t the cheapest route to do exercise by any means,” says FITiST devotee Margary Martin, a research scientist in immigration studies at NYU. “But because I am spending the money, I am going to make sure I go.” Martin credits the heavy price point as one of the main reasons she kept up with her regime after many failed gym memberships. She says the results are what keep her renewing.

“I weighed 20 pounds more when I started,” says Martin whose FITiST plan consists of sessions at Flywheel Sports and Barry’s Boot Camp. “The variety of classes kept me interested. My body has changed and my attitude about what I am willing to try has changed too.” Good way to work out if you can afford it.

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