Gyms are morphing into ultra-exclusive clubs reserved for niche communities within the wellness world, where like-minded people can gather once they’ve made it past the waitlist.

A dark, large gymnasium photographed from above. Black furniture, weights, and a black pole runs down the center of the room.

A membership Ghost, located in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood of New York City, is reserved for “thought leaders, creatives, founders or executives” as the gym’s chief executive Aqib Mamoon told The New York Times. Considered a “wellness destination,” membership to Ghost costs up to $300 a month and requires an application, an interview, and an internal review process for consideration.

A locker room with red lights and a sauna behind a glass door.
Monarch Athletic Club

At the Monarch Athletic Club in West Hollywood, members undergo a medical evaluation, a training assessment, and physical therapy to join the community. Membership fees range from $595 to $2000, and include tiers of benefits including personal training, I.V. therapy, ice baths and physician access, as well as more routine gym additions such as group classes and saunas.

At the Forma Pilates studio, with locations in the Upper East Side, Soho and Los Angeles, new members are considered and accepted by referral only. Owner and founder Liana Levi told The New York Times that the studio “prides itself on fostering a tight-knit community of like-minded individuals including, but not limited to, entrepreneurs, executives, athletes, celebrities, pre- and postnatal mothers and more.”

This invite-only community mindset is extending beyond the big cities as well. Trampoline and cardio boutique The Ness, currently located in Tribeca, will open a second location in Bridgehampton, New York this spring as invite-only. “This creates a better community and environment, which is really important when you’re working out for the first time, coming back into your routine or trying to stick to a goal,” founder Colette Dong told the Times. “You just don’t want to do it in front of a bunch of strangers.”

The Intelligence team has highlighted a few hyper-exclusive wellness spaces before. Interested members who apply to join Heimat in Los Angeles may wait months before being accepted to join a deliberately tight-knit community. Sebastian Schoepe, president and chief executive of RSG Group North America, which owns Heimat, told the Times that the group is “not looking to bring in people who keep to themselves,” or for “those that look at a gym as a selfie opportunity, a place solely dedicated to performance-oriented training or a workout that needs to be done” and “don’t see the value of mingling with like-minded people.” At Remedy Place, memberships are capped at 200 and 300 in Los Angeles and New York, respectively, and those accepted will ideally “shine bright and help teach people the changes that need to happen,” founder and chief executive Dr. Jonathan Leary told the Times.

The Intelligence take

Health is truly a luxury in these formats, where strict acceptance rates and high membership fees reserve these opulent and lavish spaces for the wellness-focused, wealthy few. As consumers continue to crave like-minded communities and safe spaces for expression, expect to see more ultra-niche membership opportunities come to fruition.

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