In June 2014, Fit Republic entered the health and fitness scene in Phoenix, Arizona, as the brainchild of Mountainside Fitness founder Tom Hatten.
According to Hatten, Fit Republic was a result of his witnessing the boutique studio industry grow right before his eyes. Through his experience turning Mountainside Fitness into a successful 14-club chain, he felt they could do the same on the studio side.
But Fit Republic isn’t your normal one-modality studio. Instead, it features four studios inside one location, offering multiple modalities to members. Fitness offerings include hot yoga, barre, CrossFit, indoor cycling and more. In addition, the concept boasts high-end amenities like childcare, full-service locker rooms with laundry and towel service, complimentary Wi-Fi, a cafe and retail shop.
Here, Hatten discusses Fit Republic in more detail, sharing whether or not he feels the concept is in competition with Mountainside Fitness.
CS: How did the idea for Fit Republic come about?
TH: We treated it like a health club, so we made really nice locker rooms with executive lockers and towel service, and then a big cafe area with luxury seating — we combine the best of the health clubs and the studio into one unit. That’s where the theory of Fit Republic came out of. It allows everybody to use all of the studios under one membership. So you can do a yoga class in the morning and a CrossFit class at night. We offer a 145 classes a week for $100 a month.
CS: How do you feel the concept has been going so far?
TH: The studio industry has dipped into the health club industry for sure. It’s been going good. We’ve learned a lot. Just the way it’s managed, for example, because in health clubs when there’s not a class there’s still people working out, which is great. In the studio concept when there’s not a class going on, [there’s no one]. So we really had to make sure we were efficient with our time and try to add more classes during the times that are a little slower during the day. We’ve been happy with it. We’re just approaching 800 members, which is quite a lot for a studio that size — it’s 14,000 square feet. We’ll probably peak out somewhere around 1,200, 1,300 members. We’re in good shape.
CS: What’s your vision for Fit Republic?
TH: I think we’re looking to grow that one across the U.S. for sure. We’ve found sites in Chicago, Dallas and Seattle where we feel like that concept can compete really well. It’s kind of a hybrid between the health clubs and the studios. It does well by both. In some ways, not even really affecting both. We have even a cross membership with Mountainside so [members] can go to both that and Fit Republic.
CS: You don’t feel it’s competing with Mountainside Fitness?
TH: We charge extra for it, but we feel it’s somewhat of a different product, because they’re all master’s-level classes. I say the instructors that are at Fit Republic are professional instructors. In the health club business, they’re all professional when they get in their obviously, but most of them have second and third jobs if they teach for health clubs. In studios, that’s usually their life. They go around and just teach yoga, or just teach cycle, or CrossFit. I would say they’re a little deeper into education. You have to test into teaching at Fit Republic.
CS: Do you have a manager for that specific location?
TH: I think of the concept and how I want it to look, operate and feel — that’s probably my strength. And then for the day-to-day, we have an onsite manager, and then our overall director of group fitness for Mountainside oversees that as well.
CS: In addition to Fit Republic, are there any other new concepts or exciting things on the horizon?
TH: We’ve always felt like our biggest strength was the ability to be nimble, and be progressive in the marketplace. We’re literally just finishing an eight-club [Mountainside Fitness] remodel of adding square footage for more open training, where we’ve brought in more ropes, racks, boxes, sleds, and really tried to say that the club isn’t just static — there is that open training that people love. I would think that Fit Republic has taught us a lot. We’ve brought in some of those unique studio concepts back into the health clubs and blown them up. We just finished up this one club remodel today, and as we were finishing setting the bars, people were waiting to start using them. It was nuts. It was like kids in Disneyland.