People are always asking me how we come up with such innovative and exciting group fitness programs. This isn’t always an easy question to answer; it’s a bit like going to a great restaurant and asking the chef to give you his recipe on the way out. That being said, with all the famous chefs on TV these days sharing techniques and tips, I think I can give a little insight into our recipe for finding and developing great classes.
I am sure it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but a good part of the formula truly is instinct. Something simply speaks to you when you are seeing a potential hit for the first time. I felt this like a ton of bricks when I first met Johnny G, the creator of the Spinning® program who first introduced the cardio workout that has since swept the glob. Then again like two tons of bricks when I hired Zumba’s Beto Perez to teach his Zumba classes at a club I used to own in Miami. Whenever possible, be open and willing when approached with a new idea, concept or piece of equipment. You may have to sift through a pretty big pile of duds before you get to that goldmine, but believe me it’s worth it. A Beto and Johnny G come around once in a lifetime and you have to have your eyes wide open when they do, and don’t let them leave the room until they agree to work with you.
Even more important than spotting a dynamic program that has long-term potential, is being able to create one within your own talent pool and even in the gym itself. We’ve created some incredible programs that our members love by utilizing some of the more popular pieces of equipment from the gym floor and bringing them into a group setting. Classes like BOSU® Bootcamp and Bodyweb with TRX® have been a huge success. There is a bit of magic that happens that almost transforms the equipment when thirty plus people are using it correctly in unison.
Besides looking for ideas in the gym, I am most often inspired by what’s happening outside the gym. Keeping an eye on trends is an incredibly potent tool in the development of relevant programs that feel modern and edgy. How are people spending their free time? What are they doing to have fun? And then when you recognize those trends, how do they translate to the group fitness setting? Technology is huge today, it’s part of every hour of every day, and there are endless ways to capitalize on that with programs that digitally track progress or use online elements to drive engagement.
Pop culture, movies, television and even reality shows are a great way to gauge what people are into. Shows like Glee opened the door to programs that brought singing and dancing together, upping the fun factor and the sweat factor at the same time. Competitions like “So You Think You Can Dance” continue to expose people to new genres of dance and let them challenge themselves to try those new genres in a familiar and welcoming environment.
Stay tuned for my next post which will focus on how and why group fitness can drive the success of the gym business.
Donna Cyrus is the Senior Vice President of Programming for Crunch Fitness.