A friend is hoping to launch a new fitness studio in NYC later this fall. I’m not going to say too much about the concept, since that’s really his news, but it’s completely different than anything I’ve seen in NYC so far. I’m really excited for it to open, and will definitely keep you posted on details! Since my schedule is crazy busy with travel and he’s pretty busy as well, for our next catch up, we decided to do a morning workout and then grab breakfast afterward. Gotta love having friends who love working out as much as I do and consider that a valid get together!
But this week, I heard back something really upsetting. My friend isn’t able to make our morning workout class anymore. Not because his schedule changed, and not because the class was full, but because the studio owner heard about his upcoming venture and therefore is banning him from classes.
I was floored by this, and more than a little pissed off. The studio in question is one of my favorite studios, and the idea that they would ban one of my friends from classes simply because he’s also launching a studio seems ridiculous. For starters, his new studio is a completely different sports discipline than the one we were going to try, and it’s going to be targeting exactly the opposite clientele.
While complaining about this to my friend Emily, she told me that this very topic had come up in a RateYourBurn blog post, and that I should check it out. I was honestly very curious – was there some good reason for this practice? What other studios ban competitor instructors?
The RYB post supported my viewpoints exactly (go read it), and didn’t shed any light on (legitimate) reasons for a ban like this. I thought it showed poor sportsmanship that my friend wasn’t allowed to take a class, and it made me really question my favorite studio that they would do such a thing.
What other industries do this?? In the restaurant industry, “competitor” chefs are welcome at other restaurants, and in fact, are usually given special meals by the chef. In the airline industry, employees of other airlines are often given special treatment (upgrades, snacks, drinks, etc) when they fly on a competitor. Both of those industries are pretty darn cutthroat, and yet, they manage to maintain a congenial spirit even as they try to knock each other out of business. I think the fitness industry ought to be even friendlier and supportive than either of those industries… and yet here we are.
The reason my favorite studio is my favorite studio is not because of the specific routine or how it’s put together. (If it were, I’d buy a fitness DVD and do it at home for a considerably cheaper price.) Rather, I love this workout because of the atmosphere in the studio. How every single instructor learns your name in your very first class, and each one makes you feel welcome every single time. How every single instructor provides personal attention and incredibly valuable corrections, knowing when to push you and when you’re already doing your best. How, despite the prevalence of trendy Lululemon outfits that don’t at all look like what I typically wear to a gym class, I still feel like part of the group because everyone is just so gosh darn nice. But you know what’s not nice? Banning others from your studio.
P.S. While I am sure some of you can guess which studio I am referring to, I would appreciate if you don’t mention it by name in any comments. My point is not to single out any one studio or cause bad press, but to discuss the broader problem of studios banning other instructors.