Are Hybrid Gyms Worth the Membership Fee?

Are Hybrid Gyms Worth the Membership Fee?


When the gyms shut down back in twenty-twenty, it changed how we stay active. All at once “gym rats” began exploring at-home workouts. There was a burst of digital activity as these once self-proclaimed gym enthusiasts explored cutting-edge “home” gym workouts, VR fitness training, and AI fitness equipment. Most gyms have re-opened since the shut-down, but for some, the way they chose to sweat has changed indefinitely. 

Hybrid Gym Models Are How Physical Gyms Are Giving Your Membership Added Value

In reality, not everyone wants to get a gym membership and risk getting sick in the middle of a pandemic. And for others, perhaps they discovered their preference for working out at home. Regardless of the reason, a shift in the normal gym-goers mentality means physical gyms had to change the way they operate because memberships were down. 

A hybrid gym model is how brick and mortar gyms are reaching those who’d rather not come in. It’s worth noting a desire for digital offerings does go beyond the ‘gym-adverse’, even those who are going into the gym find a hybrid gym model enriching. 

Most apps offer “in-gym routines” that members can follow along with on their phones. This is particularly helpful for those new to a certain type of training, like the free weight section. And of course, from a business angle, a hybrid model is smart. Digital content allows physical gyms to retain memberships by reaching at-home customers.

But What Exactly is a Hybrid Gym Membership?

While online training and fitness apps are nothing new, the adoption by big-box gym franchises is a somewhat new approach. Basically, a hybrid gym membership is a physical gym offering online features. Online content could include:

  • Virtual one-on-one training

  • Live-stream workouts

  • An app with features like a workout library

However, Club Industry, a premier fitness industry news source, says “physical-first” gyms are eventually going to do more than offer video streaming. The writer for Club Industry says, “Zoom will no longer cut it.” Brick mortar gyms are going to need to invest in VR or AI to challenge the evolving at-home alternatives. 



Beefing up membership amenities is crucial; because the "physical gym" competitor is cutting-edge, at-home workout equipment with immersive, in-person showrooms. 

Who's Offering a Hybrid Gym Membership?

Blink Fitness and Planet Fitness both offer a digital experience that can pair alone or alongside their physical gym memberships. This is just an example, Lifetime Fitness, a more premium and luxury fitness gym took a different route and included in their membership access to Apple Fitness+

Let’s look at Blink Fitness's (their sister company is Equinox Fitness) approach to a hybrid gym membership. The value-based fitness brand operates in six states with 90 physical locations. To spice up their membership offerings, their digital platform includes 

  • Some 500 and Counting Exercise Classes and Customizable Workouts

  • Fitness Tips, Recipes, and General Wellness Content

  • Access to Certified Personal Trainers at Low Cost

  • A Facebook Community for HITT, Dance Cardio, Upper, or Lower Body Workouts

The level of access you have to their content depends on your membership level (how much you pay each month.) 

Planet Fitness, one of Blink’s biggest competitors, launched its fitness app long before the pandemic hit, but it’s certainly revved up its offerings. Today you can download the PF watch app so you can “have a gym on your wrist.” Their app also offers an in-person crowd tracker, which is particularly helpful if you don’t want to wait in line for the cable towers.


Our Consensus

Overall, we think if a physical gym offers a hybrid model, then it's worth the cost of at least their basic membership tier. I mean...If you're going to use a fitness app you might as well have access to a physical location as well.