What Lies Ahead for Group X?

Photo courtesy of Zumba® Fitness.

Photo courtesy of Zumba® Fitness.

The popular Group X class, Zumba® Fitness, recently named “Company of the Year,” by Inc. Magazine, can be found in over 140,000 locations across the world — and, it’s not the only popular group fitness offering. Pilates, yoga, Les Mills, Silver Sneakers® and other Group X classes have become staples in almost all health clubs — so what’s next for group fitness?

Callie McFee, the group fitness director at Big Vanilla in Pasadena, Md., believes group fitness will continue to grow in popularity — specifically Zumba — as well as high-intensity interval training and boot camp-style classes. Additionally, she speculated the health and fitness industry will continue to see Group X evolve.

“I do believe that Group X is evolving, to include the total picture of fitness,” said McFee. “Strength training is becoming an important part of Group X classes. At our club, we carry ‘Group Power,’ and it is one of our best-attended classes. I think that members are becoming smarter when it comes to maximizing their workouts. They want to have classes offered that are going to address cardio and strength training.”

Donna Cyrus, the senior vice president of programming for Crunch Fitness, saw similar trends in Group X programming at Crunch Fitness locations nationwide. “2012 showed a shift towards sports-specific training in the group fitness setting,” explained Cyrus. “While dance-based workouts will always be popular, there has been an increase in more intense and physical classes across the board. Men and women alike are looking for classes with a focus on strength and conditioning.”

Recently, Crunch Fitness implemented JILLIAN MICHAELS BODYSHRED, which Cyrus said does both — strengthen and condition members, in less time.

“The big message for 2013 is shorter, high-intensity programs in the group fitness setting,” continued Cyrus. “People will begin to embrace the notion that you can see results and get in a great workout, through combining high-intensity training with active recovery. We’ve seen this with the success of classes like BodyWeb with TRX, Diesel and recently with the launch of JILLIAN MICHAELS BODYSRHED, a 30-minute class utilizing Jillian’s ‘three-two-one’ approach to shed fat, define muscle and condition for optimum performance.”

In 2013, Cyrus said Crunch plans on continuing to add exciting new modalities to its Group X programming, including “fusion” classes. “We’ll be adding more fusion classes to the programming that combine two or more class categories,” explained Cyrus. “For example, GRID Ride combines a traditional ride class with a session of self-massage through foam rolling. BodyWeb with TRX uses the TRX to give your body a resistance workout, in combination with a core-strengthening routine.”

In terms of Group X’s ability to retain members, McFee believes that won’t change in the near future. “Group X is, and will, continue to be an excellent retention tool to keep members coming back,” she said. “Finding the right format and instructor is critical to keeping your members involved. An awesome Group X program will make members look forward to working out.”

How can you continue to “keep up with the Joneses” in terms of Group X programming? According to Cyrus, you need to know your demographic. “Knowing your demographic allows you to cater specific programming to your members,” she said. “Clubs need to ensure they have solid programming offerings that combine classes based on strength, flexibility, cardio and dance — effectively.”


By Rachel Zabonick

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