Studio Spotlight: FORM50 Fitness.
Strong businesses create strong opportunities. FORM50 Fitness is the perfect example.
When the founder, Monica Marder, opened her functional fitness studio in 2018 in Astoria, New York, there were hardly any boutique group fitness studios in the neighborhood. Within 18 months Monica had a following and a loyal community that trusted her brand and its focus on low impact interval training.
Through the ups and downs of this year, Monica has persevered. She has even taken on a new challenge—expanding to Miami. We recently talked with Monica about how she started her business and what it’s been like to reopen her NYC studio while also expanding into a new market.
FitGrid: Tell us a little bit about FORM50 Fitness. What are your classes like?
Monica Marder: We use a custom-designed machine called The FORMFormer to do L.I.I.T, low-impact interval training. Our programming is a science-based functional fitness approach called the L.I.F.T. Method by Ky Evans. This is the only spring-based machine workout to combine low-impact conditioning with high-intensity strength training. This combination equals functional performance and the sculpted physique that our clients want.
FG: So you didn’t just build a new studio, you also created a new type of boutique fitness?
MM: We opened in September 2018 and I started working with my mentor and group fitness strategist, Ky, in December 2018. With his guidance we refined the concept, the FORM50 brand, and I built a huge following. Before the pandemic our classes were averaging 85 percent occupancy.
FG: That speaks volumes about your community. How have you cultivated such a strong following?
MM: We have a very close-knit client to coach relationship which FitGrid has helped us maintain and strengthen. The personal relationship with our clients is part of the experience and processes taught by Group Fitness Academy.
FG: Let’s switch gears and talk about Miami. Was this a planned expansion?
MM: Expansion was always the vision for FORM50 and I have franchise opportunities coming soon. I originally thought I’d open several NYC-based studios before bringing FORM50 to South Florida. But, I came down to Florida on May 1, 2020, and saw a huge opportunity to bring my business here, too.
FG: Wow! How did the process of opening a new business work?
MM: It all happened pretty quickly. I found the perfect space in Midtown Miami with free parking and lots of foot traffic. Then I had to get to work on building my team.
FG: Team building is hard to do in a new market. What did you do?
MM: You’re right. It is challenging! I was really lucky to have Ky’s support. With his help, I was able to train my new staff while the studio was still under construction. And to make it even better, he came out of his coaching retirement to teach for me! He moved from Austin to Miami and is now a resident coach as well as our guide and mentor for all FORM50 coaches.
FG: That’s incredible! Will you be teaching in Miami as well?
MM: Yes, and I’m so excited. I didn’t teach at all during COVID because I wanted to allow our other coaches to teach. It was also really draining being a business owner and my heart wasn’t in it. Now I feel reinvigorated and excited to coach and work with clients again.
FG: What was it like re-opening your New York Studio and opening a studio in Miami at the same time?
MM: Hard! Believe it or not, opening a studio from scratch felt less challenging than re-opening our Astoria location. Things are just different in New York right now, where studio spaces are smaller and not as easy to reconfigure and people are commuting less because they tend to not have cars, making it much harder to attract and engage the same audience we had pre-lock-down.
FG: You’ve rebranded yourself as “the ultimate socially distant group fitness experience." What does that look like in your studio?
MM: We’ve taken every precaution possible including moving our machines further apart, increasing sanitation, and minimizing client interaction between classes. We offer privates and semi-privates for clients who want a more intimate environment and we even added athletic masks to our online retail shop. Each client is on their own machine so it’s like private training in a socially distant setting.
Building a community and a loyal following is more important than ever. Find out how you can strengthen the client, instructor, studio relationship with the FitGrid system. Sign up for a free trial today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lindsay McClelland manages social media and influencer marketing for FitGrid. As a self-proclaimed "people person" who loves group fitness classes for the social aspect, she was immediately drawn to FitGrid for its innovation in keeping fitness communities together during a crisis. Her passion for fitness and wellness brands stems from her personal interests as a yoga teacher, competitive marathon runner, and former collegiate swimmer.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level