Hyperlocal isn’t just a marketing concept for the owners of Biker Barre, a boutique fitness studio that pairs spinning with ballet-style barre classes, in Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s their foundation. “Our DNA is being in the neighborhood,” says co-owner Katie Fouts, 33, who opened the studio with Jane Brodsky, 35, in May 2012. “That also means working with the neighborhood, using the neighborhood.”
Situated in a narrow row house on a residential street, Biker Barre brings in approximately $750,000 in annual revenue from its nearly 70 classes a week. Clients range from the politically savvy to college students to stay-at-home parents. Waitlists and sold-out classes are common. It’s in the extras, beyond standard classes, where Biker Barre can really leverage the community: Trainers are encouraged to be creative and host Friday night “dance parties” in the spin studio. A partnership with a local dry cleaner lets members drop off their sweaty clothes at the studio right after class. Instructors will bring classes to the popular and health-conscious salad shop, sweetgreen, a few blocks away, after an hour of intense spinning, and special packages have included a wine tasting at a shop around the corner. Even a few political deals have reportedly been greased from friendships at Biker Barre, though Fouts and Brodsky say they can’t spin and tell.
Why is the Capitol Hill neighborhood so important to Biker Barre?
Fouts: One of the things we were looking for was a really close-knit community. We had a good vision of what our brand meant, and what we wanted it to become. One of those things was a brand that was not only successful monetarily, but for our clients. We want people to come in and keep coming back.
Our model only works in a neighborhood where people move there in order to know their neighbors. [Capitol Hill is] a well-off neighborhood full of really interesting people. A boutique fitness studio is one of the few things that offers people a chance to interact. Those little interactions mean so much.
Brodsky: Working on the Hill and in politics for as long as I did means I know a lot of people in the area. Clients are our best advertisements, and having a personal connection with so many of them means we can get the word out even faster.
You have partnered with a number of local businesses, from wine shops to local restaurants. Why is that important?
Fouts: What we want is someone to come into Biker Barre, see someone every day in class, and then run into her at DCanter [a wine store], and realize, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re the girl from class.’ We have really cool political stories — and I don’t know if we can actually share names — but it involves a senior person on one side of the aisle and a senior person on the other side of the aisle becoming friends, and deals got done. That’s what we want to foster. And in order to foster it, community partnerships are totally a part of our strategy. It is intentional.
Pictured: Katie Fouts and Jane Brodsky