Why fitness boutiques are outdoing the old-school gym model

Adala Bolto is the female entrepreneur who’s about to take training for women to a whole new level. In 2017 Adala co-founded ZADI Training, a new boutique fitness concept that features workouts combining both HIIT and resistance training, exclusively for women. The first studio will be launching on June 13, 2018.

Why fitness boutiques are outdoing the old-school gym model

There has been a fundamental shift in the industry when it comes to functional group training, hence the concept of ZADI was born. While traditionally big gyms that offer everything were the norm in the fitness industry, functional training in small groups came about specifically to solve some of the major pain points experienced by traditional gym customers. Since then, small group training has been the growth engine in the fitness industry. In Australia alone, IBISWorld predicts revenue in the gym industry will grow at a compound annual rate of 9.3 per cent over the five years through 2016-17, to reach $2.1 billion.

Furthermore a recent industry report is showing that ‘Millennials are spending big on trendy places to sweat,’ and part of that reason is because they value the experience and community.

There are a few reasons why fitness boutiques are snapping on the heels of the old- school model:

They offer a specialised experience: Major gym chains were born in the 80s and they largely targeted weight lifters and aerobics enthusiasts. While this style of training was very popular then, keep in mind that fitness was not mainstream yet. Once more people started to get involved, the health club industry followed a simple business model- build a facility in a high traffic location, fill it with equipment, add standard gym classes that you can get at many other gyms, sell lots of memberships. However recently fitness boutiques have started to redefine the industry, adapting to the unique preferences of millennials and the younger generations who want a more unique and personalised experience, no lock in contracts or joining fees and a sense of community. According to IHRSA, boutique members are up 74% from 2012-2015

ZADI for example have small groups of no more than 16 women per class. Workouts are developed by exercise scientist Damien Kelly and they use ‘Australian-first’ bespoke, revolutionary tools that measure progress and results. This means that they get more attention and workouts are tailored specifically to their target audience

Fitness boutiques can really engage with their audience: Health clubs are generally suitable for everyone which, while convenient, can make it difficult for them to really connect with their audience as there messaging needs to be directed to so many different groups of people. This means that it can be more difficult for them to be ‘trendy’, especially with the millennial audience as it is hard to be relatable to everyone. Boutiques are often targeting a group of people for one purpose, think ZADI, Cross Fit, Power Living Yoga, Soul Cycle. All of these studios are targeting a specific interest and it is much easier for them to develop an identity that their audience can identify with because they are specialising in a specific area

Culture: When choosing a boutique fitness studio, many people look at the offering, the branding and the culture. After all, exercise is often something that people participate in in their free time so you want to make sure that you enjoy spending time there. ZADI are great at ‘connecting a community of likeminded women’ who are Inspiring, Empowered & Passionate! Their community lifts each other up and it feels like you are seeing friends every time you walk in the door. So while fitness boutiques can be more expensive than the traditional gym model, millennial trends are showing that they will spend the money in exchange for the community and the experience.

Living for Likes: Social media validation is important for millennials as it is their way of projecting their values and their identity. They like to discover new things, they enjoy unique experiences and their relationship with ‘health’ can be complicated in that they like to exercise, but they also want to enjoy trendy restaurants and a few beverages. Fitness boutiques offer this group a trendy place to workout, connect with other likeminded individuals and an experience that they can post on their platforms and share with their audience


ZADI offer unique programs, steering away from the typical ‘gym crowd’, working with Australian renowned exercise scientist, Damien Kelly to design workout systems. Damien’s extensive years and knowledge in the fitness industry have led him to develop cutting edge programs for many Australians. At ZADI, the specialised workout systems are female targeted and set out to achieve three things which are essential to achieving results: challenge, variety and fun. These three key structures allow for challenging yet achievable workouts you can do so that every hour spent sweating is maximised. Each day these workouts are fresh and different ensuring your workout are always inspirational and never boring. Atmosphere is a key factor in ZADI, not only are the trainer’s experts at enticing you with the latest music tracks they are high energy personalities that will leave members with a positive attitude.

‘The membership targets per studio are not massive as we are a boutique concept’ says Bolto. ‘We’re aiming for 300 members per studio in the first 12 months’ post launch. Our female-targeted programs are exclusive to ZADI. They’re unique and simple, and are not only backed by science, butare fun, balanced, challenging and achieve real results.

‘ZADI have a solid business plan in place to take us through to the next 5 years. We’re definitely not planning on a slow growth path, with 50+ locations projected to roll-out in the next two years across Australia, with a big focus on the East Coast to commence with. Looking at ahead, we have our eyes on some of the high growth international markets including Asia Pacific and the Middle East. These are high growth markets across many industries with a demand for new and innovative concepts – specifically in the Middle East where our exclusive female-only studios will be well received.’ 

ZADI plays an integral part in one of the highest growth sectors in the fitness industry. They’ve been inviting franchisees to be part of a network that offers key benefits including a simple, low cost setup, simplified systems and virtually paperless and a comprehensive marketing plan with ongoing support. They have also gained the support of Fernwood Fitness, with founder Dr Williams coming on board to co- found the movement.

Adala’s brainchild ZADI Training, is set to make a strong foot print in the Australian fitness industry with ambitious plans to rollout many locations across the local market and further expansion plans internationally.