In some cities, group fitness is like an all-you-can-eat buffet with an à la carte payment plan. There are lots of options, but you’ll need to cough up serious money if you want to try them all.
Robin and Carrick Longley wanted to change that. Their gym, Sweat FXBG in Fredericksburg, Virginia, merges the best of boutique fitness—HIIT, rowing, indoor cycling, barre, yoga and recovery—with the all-inclusive membership fee of a big-box gym. (Check out the site they built using Wix Fit: SweatFXBG.com.)
Between Carrick’s background in competitive weightlifting and Robin’s history managing gyms throughout the region, they knew that they wanted a hard workout, dedicated community and strong brand, but without the impersonal vibe of a big corporation. Here, for our Wix Fit Spotlight series, they share how they pulled it off.
How did you come up with the idea for Sweat FXBG?
Robin: I lived in DC before moving to Virginia. I loved the boutique fitness studio scene there, but everything was separate. I was paying $40 a class at all these different places, then something else would open that I wanted to try, and it’s like ouch, I can’t pay my rent now. I’m already paying a ton of money for these other things! I always thought it would be cool to have everything in one place, so we have an unlimited membership where everything is included. If we add something, you get to be part of it.
We have four different rooms, and each room always has something running. We hit our schedule sweet-spot, where you can come in, do a 30-minute row, then do an hour barre class; or hit a 30-minute express cycle, then a HIIT class. There’s always something to do, and every single class is scalable for different levels.
Carrick: I was a competitive Olympic weightlifter, and I rowed in high school before transitioning to indoor rowing during college. We wanted to start our own thing that combined the best of what we liked, with none of the stuff we didn’t like. For example, we didn’t want to do contracts and we didn’t want to trick you into getting charged. We’re like, let’s just run a gym like human beings. If you get charged and you didn’t mean to get charged, we’re not going to give you the run-around.
Robin: If you don’t want to come here, I don’t want your money.
Tell us more about the studio itself.
Carrick: We’re big on lighting and sound. All the lights in our house are automated lights, and we like high-end sound. That became part of our concept. And we brought in a local designer to make murals that everyone takes pictures in front of.
Robin: Our Instagram Stories are sick because people are constantly tagging us, and it intrigues people enough to come in for a tour.
Once they join, they’re more invested in the workout because it’s a no-nonsense environment. Exercising at home, as soon as I get a text message, I sit down to respond and the workout is over. The best thing is having one uninterrupted hour, cell phone gone, so you can go balls to the wall.
The studio is people’s social hour. They come ten minutes early, and we know a little bit about everybody so it creates conversation. There’s also this new nutritional energy shake place next door, so everyone grabs a shake after class. And maybe they got new workout clothes and want to show them off. Those little things are like gold for people. This is their hour.
Carrick: We also opened during the pandemic, so we designed the studio with socially distanced stations and air filtration from the start. We’re also very transparent about our COVID protocols, and we’ll gladly pause someone’s membership if they don’t feel comfortable in a group setting yet. (Related: The new rules of training clients during the pandemic)
How do you keep in touch with clients in between classes?
Carrick: We just transitioned to the branded app by Wix. It doesn’t require an invite code and takes you directly into the space, and that was worth the price alone.
Robin: People like that they can chat with us on the app. Sometimes we don’t have someone working the front desk, so they’ll chat with us instead of calling. People know the chat comes to my phone and Carrick’s phone, and people find it funny when they can tell if it’s me responding or Carrick. Carrick is always, like ‘dont worry, sir,’ while I’m like, ‘you’ve got it girl!!!’ People enjoy that. We’re still a small business, so if someone messages us at 9:00 pm, I’m going to respond. The branded app also makes me feel more official as a business because you can download the Sweat FXBG app. Every business has their own app, and this way, we can have our own app without developing our own app.
You seem really into your community. Is that the biggest benefit of group fitness?
Robin: You just can’t beat the energy and motivation of group fitness. Most people are internally competitive. If I see someone on my level lifting a certain weight, you better believe that I’m picking up that same weight. People are in their homes so much now, and having a dedicated place to exercise is priceless for them. Someone told us we should do a happy hour, and I said, “no, this is the happy hour.”
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