Let’s talk Boutique Fitness, because the industry has its eyes on downtown Columbia Maryland with, by my count, five (!!) separate small fitness studios - covering a range of exercise types - planning to be open in our urban core by the end of 2020, if not sooner. Boutique fitness is generally viewed as a small gym (typically under 3,000 square feet) that focuses on group exercise, specializes in one or two fitness areas, and is offered at a premium price tag. As explained in a New York Times feature article about the boutique fitness boom, a group fitness class is one of the few things you can’t order off Amazon, and as such, is helping to reshape the American retail scene as part of the “experience economy”, in which restaurants, entertainment, and fitness retailers thrive while more traditional retailers falter.
Here’s the rundown:
First, TITLE Boxing Club at the m.flats building at the mall has been already been open for about a year.
Second, The Merriweather Post reader Rex Patel will be opening a F45 at Two Merriweather (10960 Grantchester Way) across from cured / 18th and 21st. F45 is a high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) studio that was founded in Australia and has Mark Walhberg as a minority owner. According to a Vox.com profile, it’s the most popular workout you’ve never heard of; as the fast-growing franchise currently has 1,500 locations in 40 countries!
And finally, as I covered in my breakdown of the retail leasing map for phase 1 at The Merriweather District; the third, fourth, and fifth studios to open downtown will be in the Juniper building with three retail spaces labeled either boutique or specialty fitness.With boxing and H.I.I.T. already accounted for, there are still plenty of other types of fitness that can occupy the spaces in the Juniper building, including yoga, pilates, rowing, cycling, barre, or treadmill. I’ve heard scuttlebutt (meaning unsubstantiated gossip, rumor, not officially announced, but will still likely end up happening) that one of those retail bays will be an OrangeTheory Fitness. If that turns out to be the case, I’d wager a yoga studio and cycling studio (like SoulCycle or Flywheel) will take up the other two spots, but let’s not discount the chance that a barre and/or pilates opens instead.
Fortunately, if your favorite boutique fitness provider is not included among these five, we still have two more phases at The Merriweather District yet to be built and plenty of other retail spaces around downtown, so if you don’t get it this year, chances remain high that you’ll get our favorite workout experience when the sixth, seventh, or eighth studio opens downtown... Stay tuned!