Global fitness chain nails lessons in monetising community

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


I am a Barry’s bootcamp fan. Three to four times per week, I go into a dark room to be yelled at until I drop dead. Not quite. It’s a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercise studio where you work hard to loud pumping music. They have been around for 25 years, have 84 studios around the world, and say they have a community of 3 million people. 

I have written about their loyalty before. Today I want to talk about adjacent business lines and what we can learn. 

The reason I think this is relevant for news is that Barry’s has developed a community based on common interests. They have developed that community through a number of loyalty schemes and now they are giving a master class at monetising that audience. 

First off, commerce

It’s fairly obvious here: When you work out, you wear specific clothes. There are small storefronts in every studio. Great if you forget anything. Or see something you like. Or buy for a friend.  Barry’s is not a clothing manufacturer, nor do they seem to want to be. But they want to own their space within it so they run limited edition partnerships such as Barry’s X Lululemon and Barry’s X Vuori. They “co create” designs and sell them. At an extortionate price because:

  1. They are limited editions.
  2. They are good quality.
  3. They know they have an affluent audience (classes are US$20-US$34 each, depending on your subscription).

Secondly, and the reason for this post, is music 

It’s like a nightclub in there. At Barry’s, you spend 50 minutes working out to pumping music in a dark-ish studio. Some customers go to specific classes because they like the music. I’ve seen themed classes before such country or Taylor Swift heavy when the Eras tour was in LA. Now they are starting to monetise it. Check out the e-mail I received:

Barry's partners with Dua Lipa to market a class and a new single.
Barry's partners with Dua Lipa to market a class and a new single.

What an innovative way to market music. 

A third learning can be found in the latter part of the offer: Food 

“Enjoy a custom Training Season shake.” Nutrition is important to people who work out. At each Barry’s, there is a “fuel bar,” which makes protein smoothies, mostly ordered before class and ready as soon as people come out (again brilliant — no lines!).

They are cutting across Barry’s lines, which allows more upsell and more promotion. Again, this is a limited edition item so there is some urgency to try it. 

A fourth tip: incentives

Barry’s often runs “challenges” where you get a reward for completing a certain number of classes within the designated time frame. They don’t over push but have a good cadence.

These are four e-mails I received over the course of three weeks:

Barry's runs challenges that incentivise patrons to take more classes.
Barry's runs challenges that incentivise patrons to take more classes.

The incentive to customers is clear: a gift for doing a set number of classes. 

I imagine a percentage of customers do more than they would otherwise. And in-studio, there is a physical manifestation of this, as you can see below, which brings in the community. Almost everyone takes part and your achievements are on display. Instructors are encouraged to take part (for classes they take part in, not teach), which they post on Instagram. 

And that’s the very last piece: the art of Instagram and social

In-studio, every spot is Instagramable: the sign, the placard with milestones/birthdays that are changed multiple times per day to recognise customers, the props. At their huge party to celebrate 25 years, the first thing someone told me is, “There are so many great photo spots.” 

By way of example, here are some recent stories from my Instagram:

Barry's offers plentiful social media photo opportunities in its studios.
Barry's offers plentiful social media photo opportunities in its studios.

So what can we learn?

  • They know their audience and figure out where relevant adjacencies lie.

  • They don’t create new products themselves; they partner.

  • They incentivise both brands and customers — everyone gets something out of it.

  • They are adept at using “limited edition” to create a sense of urgency.

And if you want a few more examples of great marketing/partnerships/commerce, here are a few more I found while scrolling through my inbox:

Barry's excels at building community and monetising partnerships.
Barry's excels at building community and monetising partnerships.

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About Jodie Hopperton

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