Boutique vs bog-standard gyms: Hybrid Fitness is a bit of both


How do you work out? A quick solo slog on the treadmill at lunchtime or a 7am neon-lit HIIT class followed by a protein shake with your gym buddies? No-frills and budget-friendly or flash facilities and premium prices?

More Brits are members of a gym than ever before – a whopping 9.9million or one in seven of us, according to the 2018 report from the Leisure Database Company.

The number of health clubs has risen, with a total estimated market value of just under £5billion. Much of this growth has been concentrated at the top end – boutique studios offering specialised classes and posh shower products – and the bottom; no-fuss gyms where you can workout at your own pace.

Matt Payne has observed these trends with interest over his 20-year career in the fitness industry, first as a personal trainer then in development for some of the UK’s largest health club operators. He thinks he might have a way to stand out from the 275 new gyms that opened across the country in the last 12 months; be both.

“High-end boutique fitness facilities can be quite intimidating for a lot of people, never mind the cost, but in a lot of ways we’ve moved on from the commercial mass market gyms – people want more,” he says.

Enter the aptly-named Hybrid Fitness, a brand new gym concept promising specialised group fitness classes as well as top-of-the-line gym equipment for solo training any time: “the boutique and the bog-standard” of fitness under one roof.

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Hybrid Fitness brings “the boutique and the bog-standard” under one roof.

What is it?

Aldgate’s Lycra-rati might remember the cavernous basement of an office block off Minories as home to the City offshoot of West London boutique fitness studio ONE LDN. This pay-as-you-train operator specialised in strength and conditioning, muay thai, and hip-hop yoga classes, but failed to flourish in a crowded market and was forced to close less than a year after opening.

Matt was left with a premium fitness facility and a plan to open it up to the masses; keeping the specialised strength and conditioning and hot yoga classes but converting the purpose-built boxing and yoga studios for general use with gym equipment and group fitness classes.

How does it work?

Hybrid Fitness operates under the traditional membership model but with two tiers.

A basic package offers full access to the gym and group fitness classes like Les Mills BodyPump and CXWORX, plus several specially designed HIIT, boxing and functional training circuit classes.

The All-In Unlimited membership package unlocks the more premium workouts: strength and conditioning and hot vinyasa yoga classes. We try the former: a super tough, high-performance, small group training session that combines high intensity interval circuits with heavy weights to blast fat and build lean muscle in lower body, arms and abs, or full body workouts.

It certainly feels like a ‘boutique’ workout; small class sizes, top-of-the-line equipment with barbells, rowing machine and free weights arranged in a compact individual station, fluffy towels and plenty of trouble walking the next day.

Hybrid also offers Strength & Conditioning and Yoga-only memberships at around half the price of the All-In package.

What are the benefits?

We humans are complicated beings. Sometimes the idea of an Energizer bunny instructor demanding burpees and power squats will deliver that extra push to help you get the most out of your workout. Other times, it will send you running for the treadmills.

“I think the market has become quite segmented in terms of high-end versus commercial gyms, but that isn’t necessarily the reality,” Matt says.

“At lot of the people that go to these boutique specialised studios are also members of a normal gym elsewhere to supplement their training.”

“Equally, a class like Strength & Conditioning will likely be pretty intimidating for someone who is just starting out but might appeal once they have built up their fitness – we need more of this cross-pollination.

How much?

A Hybrid gym membership will set you back £39 per month, while the All-In package is £99 per month.

Strength & Conditioning or Yoga-only memberships are £49 per month and there are also class credits available for single-use visits starting at £15.

Where can I try it?

Corner of 66 Prescott Street and St Marks Street E1 8HG.