You’ve been at the gym for 30 minutes already and, somehow, the squat rack still appears to be taken. You train your eyes on the seemingly coveted piece of equipment while pushing through a final set on the leg press machine, before clueing in to the hovering presence behind you. Before you can even exhale through your last rep, your new (uninvited) sweaty friend interjects — “Hey, um, are you almost done?”. You don’t appreciate his impatience, but you give him the go-ahead in the hopes that the squat rack is (finally) free. Glancing over, you see your long-awaited opening, and you quickly cut across the gym floor with your water bottle and towel tucked under your arm. Only… someone beats you to the rack. Again. Letting out a sigh, you place your things down beside another piece of equipment (this time, much closer to the squat rack you’ve been stalking for nearly an hour now). Perhaps, you think to yourself… it’s time to change gyms.
Just six months ago, this was an all too common scenario. In fact, studies show that 50% of all new gym members quit going within 6 months. From complaints related to crowded commercial gym spaces, the ebb and flow of motivation, challenging work commutes, or simply demanding schedules, committing to a gym long-term is often a lofty consideration. Meanwhile, from a trainer’s perspective, finding appropriate space to comfortably train clients with access to an extensive supply of equipment can, in itself, be a difficult task. Of course, that was before a global pandemic came into the picture.
In the span of a few months, the fitness industry has been aptly turned on its head. The high-volume gym and studio models which, just last year, seemed to be fixed on an upward trajectory of popularity and revenue projections, now face an industry-defining dilemma. In a socially distanced world, what does fitness look like? From group classes to personal training, how can gyms and studios provide a safe and appealing environment for gym-goers to achieve their health-related goals without the fear of COVID-19 transmission? Moreover, in a climate which is — in so many ways — uncertain and subject to extreme change, what model or format offers trainers and gym-goers the flexibility they need to work or train without adhering to long-term commitments and contracts?
The answer, it would seem, is a concept called Silofit.
Silofit is described as the world’s first network of private fitness spaces. The company, which launched in 2017, repurposes small office space into fully equipped, private studios that can be rented by the hour, a-la-carte style. Fitness professionals can use the app to book in sessions with their clients, and fitness enthusiasts can book the space to exercise with friends or even work out alone.
Moreover, their model appears uniquely suited to the post-pandemic fitness landscape, thanks to the private nature of the space and extensive COVID-19 protocols implemented at each studio.
The CEO of Silofit, Wilfred Valenta, explains that the idea for the company came about when he was looking for a gym to join. Specifically, he was hoping to find a gym that was nearby his office, so he could squeeze in a workout when he wasn’t at his desk. The only problem? He was constantly out of town, or commuting around the city for work. “Maybe the issue at hand had nothing to do with the gym, and everything to do with the strings attached,” he explains. “The reality is, being tied down to a long-term membership is a valid concern for a lot of people, and committing to monthly memberships isn’t always feasible either.”
Fortunately, that’s where Silofit comes in. By repurposing unused spaces into beautiful and functional private studios that trainers and fitness lovers can rent on-demand, at their own convenience and on a budget, Silofit hopes to empower individuals to approach their fitness journey on their terms.
“It’s our mission to create spaces for people to bring goals — lofty or little — to life. In building these private studios for you, we hope to see your goals become a reality,” says Valenta.
Oh and, in case you were wondering, Silofit truly is the first of its kind. Currently, no other pay-as-you-go private gym models have been made available to the public in such a widely accessible manner.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Silofit was preparing to expand to Toronto. While construction on their burgeoning locations came to a grinding halt during the lockdown period, Silofit recognized the opportunity to grow their team, and focus on their pipeline of spaces and product roadmap, shared Valenta. “Even before the pandemic, we performed rigorous deep cleanings between sessions and provided 100% privacy, which turned out to be the security and safety people were looking for, pandemic or otherwise,” Valenta shares. “We are very grateful to be one of the few companies that expanded and had success during this time.”
The appeal of Silofit studio spaces (also known as Silos), is rather obvious. During each session, trainers are able to focus on the client’s personal goals in a more intimate setting, so they can best serve their needs, avoid injuries, and provide the best possible service to clients. In turn, the client gets a truly personalized experience from a knowledgeable professional, who knows what’s best for their body. This results in better service and better value, for both trainers and clients and, with stringent COVID-19 cleaning protocols performed before and after each session, users can rest assured that their safety is top priority.
As Silofit’s popularity continues to grow, we had to wonder — what is their marketing secret? According to Valenta, it comes down to word of mouth, and the use of content creators.
“Word of mouth was huge for us, especially in the beginning, because 80% of our business came from trainers,” he explains. “As trainers came into the space, many of them began telling their friends in the industry about us and how much they enjoyed the experience, so word spread quickly. In fact, it only took a few weeks and a handful of trainers for our first Silo studio to become fully booked.”
On the other hand, content creators have also been eager to work with the company. However, Valenta stresses the importance of an organic approach. “We hardly ever reach out to anyone; we wait for them to come to us or tag us in the content they post in the Silo, because those are the people who are most passionate about the brand and what we offer. We wanted to make sure that the people endorsing Silofit and sharing their experiences are people who genuinely use and love the offering. In an era where there’s so much scripted endorsement, it’s important that the voice of our brand is a sincere one.”
Although Silofit spaces are made available to both trainers and gym-goers, Valenta notes that their customers, more often than not, are trainers. “We quickly learned that many gyms require trainers to pay out 50-80% commission. That’s when we realized we were solving a much bigger problem for these trainers; we were providing a solution in their search for independence and autonomy.” Using this solution, trainers can seamlessly book on-demand sessions, or pre-book a weekly time slot so it’s ready when they need it. They’ll even help promote trainers to prospective new clients. With Silofit offering such a user-friendly and affordable model, trainers can finally take control of their own careers.
But, that’s not all. “We also learned that we were a different kind of solution for many other types of customers, such as content-creators and gym-goers,” explains Valenta. “Many influencers use the space to shoot health and fitness content for Youtube, TikTok, and IGTV, as they get the look and feel of a private, luxurious gym, without the cost of running one. They’re able to book the studio for however long they need to set up and shoot their content, without any external pressure from other members walking around and getting in the way of shots. And as for the gym-goers, Silofit became a solution for those who hate waiting around for equipment, are nervous of potentially unsanitary gyms, and want to avoid attention from strangers at the gym.”
As for the future, Silofit has big things in store, according to Valenta.
“We’re looking to build a platform for trainers by offering spaces, software, and services. We’re essentially rebuilding and replacing the traditional gym for trainers in order to make them more independent, which we intend to do in a few ways. We partnered with Strive Life, a personal training certification that runs their course in our Silo, so that anyone who wants to be a trainer can get certified in a fast and effective manner, through a qualified provider.”
Silofit is also working on evolving their brand into an app-based marketbase, where users can book both a Silo and a trainer through the app. This will also allow trainers to schedule and manage their clients, while continuously growing their client base.
As Valenta puts it, “Health is the new wealth, and people are investing in themselves and their bodies; after all, it’s the only one you ever get!”