Marketing Tips for Group X

Les Mills BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT, BODYATTACK, CXWORX and RPM — these are just some of the Group X classes offered at Catalyst Fitness. Along with the classes, the club hosts Group X events to accompany their Les Mills quarterly releases. These events not only promote their club and instructors, but include raffles, door prizes and a small entry fee that benefit charity.

“Seasonally, we have found October launch is a great opportunity to host a breast cancer awareness fundraising event with shortened formats of the programs we offer,” said Mike Fix, the group fitness manager for Catalyst Fitness.

Fix added the club has also done in-house “Spin-a-thons,” and “Zumba-thons,” which consist of two to three hours of straight Spinning or Zumba with rotating instructors to raise money for a specific charity — and, it’s a win-win, because it is also a way for Catalyst to promote the club and its instructors.

Not all events are held in-house though, and an example of that is the “outdoor summer series,” which is an event that is held at a different, outside venue free to the public.

“It’s a great opportunity to reach outside the studio walls,” said Fix. “Last year we did a one-night special event open to the public where we rented the stage and stereo equipment to promote our club and classes at a different venue.”

Catalyst has six locations in the New York area, and Fix said that while Group X is more popular at some clubs than others, it is a key foundation for the facilities.

“We have found catering to the individual clubs’ needs is the best way to go,” said Fix. “Not all instructors, time slots or programs will do well for each location.”

There is one consistency across all locations — the popularity of the BODYPUMP program. “It’s a perfect starting point for brand-new participants who are intimidated by weightlifting, and a great way to change the training stimulus for anyone who is in the same routine out on the floor. Also, since it’s a class with weights, men are a little more comfortable to come in and try it out,” added Fix.

The club markets the program with both print and digital efforts such as posters and social media, but relies on one tool that they found works best — word-of-mouth.

“The best tool for promoting for us has always been the members,” said Fix. “Giving your members a great experience — class after class — ultimately drives retention, and leads to more referrals.”

Fix said each program and time slot pulls in different numbers, and the classes range in size from anywhere between 10 to 60 members. If Catalyst notices a fall in numbers, Fix said they make minor adjustments such as promoting the class more; and look into reevaluating the time slot, instructor or format. The club is willing to make any adjustments to leave the members with a positive experience, because that’s what Fix believes makes a strong Group X program.

“Having a strong Group X program will keep retention high and give you more referrals,” continued Fix. “If they are getting the experience they came for, they are far less likely to leave your facility, tell everyone how great it is and get others to try it. Group X is more of a social experience inside the club. The members get to know each other and the instructors.”

Fix added the members and instructors build relationships by conversing about various topics before and after class and hold each other accountable for missing classes. He explained Group X participants use facilities more frequently, which can result in an increase of revenue, if you have a juice bar or apparel store, for example.

Mike Fix’s Expert Advice: Find the right instructors. “The number one thing that will drive your Group X department is having the right instructors. Your instructors need to be 100 percent authentic; if they try to be someone they aren’t while teaching, the members will see right through it, and numbers will show. You want to find instructors who are willing to take feedback and grow. Fitness trends will always be changing, and they need to be adaptable — the same class 10 years from now will not have the same response if you let it get stale. Taking the time to groom instructors who are there for the members more than themselves or the paycheck will fill the studio and stick around for a very long time.”

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