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ISSA Educates the Next Gen of Boutique Fitness Instructors
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ISSA Educates the Next Gen of Boutique Fitness Instructors

As boutique fitness surges in popularity, ISSA is tailoring its educational programs to meet the unique needs of instructors and studios

Amidst a dynamic transformation in the fitness industry, the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is emerging as a force of educational equity for people who want to upgrade their knowledge and help others connect with health and wellness. This extends to the burgeoning boutique fitness sector.

The global boutique fitness market is projected to soar from $48 Billion in 2022 to $79.66 Billion by 2029. Boutique fitness solutions offer practical advantages like flexible scheduling, catering to busy lives. This convenience, combined with a variety of class times, enables individuals to seamlessly integrate fitness into their hectic schedules. These studios also excel in creating a strong sense of community.

As the boutique fitness market continues its upward trend, driven by growing urban populations and evolving lifestyle trends, ISSA’s role as an educator and innovator becomes even more crucial. The organization is not just training fitness professionals; it is helping to shape the fabric of boutique fitness, ensuring that brands and their staff not only succeed, but become integral parts of their communities.

ISSA has tailored its educational programs to align with the distinctive character of boutique fitness. The organization recognizes that these studios are more than just workout spaces; they’re ecosystems where specific fitness goals, from weight loss to building strength, or just having fun while moving, are pursued with fervor.

ISSA’s courses are designed to empower coaches to meet diverse needs, equipping them with the skills to offer customized workouts and goal-oriented programs. But how, specifically, does a fitness education and certification company that’s been serving the industry for 35 years shapeshift itself to serve the specific needs of the boutique market?

Foundational Education

People don’t automatically connect the dots between a fitness education and certification company and the sometimes-insular boutique fitness realm. And yet, innovative eyes see a direct line.

ISSA believes in the power of education to elevate the fitness industry. Recognizing the needs of boutique fitness, ISSA is aligning its education with the unique requirements to be a great coach and serve all members. From foundational courses like Certified Personal Trainer to more niche offerings like 200-hour Yoga, Pilates, and Strength and Conditioning, ISSA provides an array of options to upskill fitness professionals.

“Over the last few years, we’ve been very intentional about creating partnerships that serve the growth of our industry through our education and trainer, coach, and instructor recruitment,” said Johnny August, ISSA’s Senior National Sales Manager. “This support is through diversifying learning opportunities, meaning they don’t just have to learn specific brand knowledge to be great. If they come from foundational learning and then get into brand-specific learning, they become more well-versed, well-rounded team members.”

Johnny August (credit: ISSA)

ISSA provides all current and future team members working for preferred partner brands, with access to specially priced education, either to bring them into the ecosystem of that organization and/or to upskill them so that they are better equipped to serve the members, according to August.

The Career Pipeline & Pathway

ISSA’s influence on career trajectories within boutique fitness is notable. Many coaches start as part-timers, juggling multiple jobs, but aspire to more. ISSA’s educational pathways provide a clear path for these ambitious professionals.

ISSA’s approach is to understand each individual’s end goal and provide a path to achieve it. This could mean starting as a part-time coach but with the vision to eventually manage or own a studio. 

We create a pipeline of ISSA students and graduates who, from a very early stage, get to designate what career pathway interests them. August says. “It’s for the betterment of the industry to connect folks with their ideal career path. If they want to own a studio, we want to get them aligned with a franchise that sells studios; if they want to be a coach, we align them with a studio that’s hiring coaches.”

Orangetheory has tapped ISSA to upskill its coaches (credit: Orangetheory Fitness)

One advantage to this ongoing relationship is being empowered to choose from multiple education models.

“Boutique fitness studios offer a very specific product to a very specific consumer, and our Certified Personal Trainer Course lays an excellent foundation,” August says. “In the boutique environment, you must be willing to upskill yourself to serve specific members. That’s where we show up in the conversation with an abundance of certifications, particularly in the specialization realm. That’s where we serve boutique studios and future employees of those studios.”

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Boutique Brands Trust ISSA

ISSA’s impact is not limited to individual coaches or clients. The organization has formed strategic partnerships with a variety of brands, offering them support in education and recruitment. 

By providing price-conscious, quality educational opportunities, ISSA helps these brands enhance their service quality and staff expertise. In terms of recruitment, ISSA serves as a vital link, connecting qualified, passionate fitness professionals with studios that need them. This symbiotic relationship has been a game-changer, addressing one of the industry’s most pressing challenges: finding and retaining top-tier coaching talent.

Camp Gladiator, which offers signature, 60-minute, full-body workouts with cardio and strength training, is an example of a partnership in action. The organization chose ISSA for its high-quality curriculum and its ability to address, with emphasis, functional fitness and whole-body training.

Britt Knighton, Camp Gladiator’s VP of Business Development, says that when they needed a nutrition certification solution, ISSA provided a great option. 

“We had 450 trainers express interest, and within 3 months, they were all certified through ISSA,” Knighton says. 

Since December 2021, ISSA has helped Camp Gladiator develop 46 new business owners.

Earlier this year, Orangetheory Fitness tapped ISSA to provide customized recruitment solutions and upskill the popular boutique fitness brand’s coaches.

Looking ahead, ISSA continues to expand its horizons. Recent acquisitions, such as the Functional Nutrition Alliance and the Health Coach Institute, have broadened ISSA’s scope beyond traditional fitness training to encompass nutrition and wellness. These acquisitions are not just about adding to ISSA’s portfolio; they represent a strategic expansion into areas that complement and enhance ISSA’s core mission.

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