Nike takes its fitness app to the Chicago retail world
“Now I can easily buy workout clothes after taking a fitness class,” says Lake View resident Bianca French.
French is referring to the new Nike Free Run Training Club that opened Tuesday on Armitage Avenue. The Lincoln Park store is combining Nike Inc. retail products with fitness classes such as yoga at one location. The store occupies the space left by the recent departure of United Colors of Benetton.
“It is about creating a club and community for women that brings together the best of Nike’s products, services and experiences to serve the athlete,“ said Cindy Hamilton, the Chicago community relations director at Nike.
Everyone is an athlete, Nike Free Run 2 says, so Hamilton trusts that the fitness and retail destination will have wide appeal to women across the city.
French agrees: “Everything I workout in is Nike. It is definitely a store I’d be interested in visiting.”
Nike Free 3.0 Training Club was initially released in December as a downloadable mobile application offering custom workouts for iPhone and iPad users. The store is bringing these virtual workouts to the retail world by offering live fitness instruction to female shoppers, a first for Chicago Nike stores.
Sharon Zackfia, a consumer analyst at William Blair & Co., recognizes the potential for the concept. “Clearly it is a big marketplace with women being the main audience.”
Lincoln Park is already home to several female-only gyms such as Flirty Girl Fitness, Fit Girl Studio and Barre Bee Fit although their classes are not offered for free. But they feature amenities such as showers that Nike Free 5.0 Training Club doesn’t have. That may prevent the store from becoming a primary workout destination for local residents.
Although delivering fitness instruction is an added cost for retailers, it might have its benefits. If workout classes cause shoppers to spend more time in the store, then the opportunity to purchase products increases.
But it is still too soon to say whether the strategy is working.
“Outside Lululemon, you can’t really say anything has proved that this model works,” said analyst Zackfia. “It is a combination between having the right products, right location and right marketing strategy.”
Chicagoan Katie O’Brien thinks the Nike name will set the store apart from others. “People are always open to trying new workout classes, especially if they’re free,” she said. “Stores like Lululemon have seen a ton of success in offering free classes, but Nike Free Run 3 is a brand that people idolize and trust so I would definitely go.”
Nike Training Club’s classes will be held just about every day of the week beginning Monday. The class schedule will soon be available on the company’s social media sites.