The Queen of Crunch Fitness

webDonna Cyrus began her foray into health and fitness as an actress and dancer, appearing on Broadway, TV shows and in the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever. After moving to Los Angeles in the 80s to pursue her acting career, she joined a gym, and got her first taste of group fitness — called aerobics at the time.

Fast-forward almost 25 years, and Cyrus is the senior vice president of programming for Crunch Fitness. According to Keith Worts, the CEO of Crunch Fitness, Cyrus has been instrumental in Crunch setting the standard for successful group fitness programming. “Her creativity is remarkable and her eye for spotting trends and formulating them into classes has been a critical component in developing the Crunch brand,” said Worts. “She is a great leader who manages the most talented instructors in the country. One way to sum it all up is she is the ‘Queen of Crunch.’”

Due to her background in acting and theatre, Cyrus said she was naturally inclined to identify with the Crunch Fitness brand. “Crunch itself has that theatrical kind of buzz,” said Cyrus. “Crunch’s innovation is kind of like being in the theatre, yet you’re in fitness.”

That theatrical vibe is reflected in many of Crunch Fitness’ core group fitness offerings. Classes such as “All Tapped Out,” which incorporates tap dancing as a cardio routine, and “Burlesque Beat,” which teaches burlesque-style moves to participants, are just a couple examples of classes that reflect Cyrus’ penchant for the theatrical. “Because I’m a dancer, I really love a lot of our dance-based programs,” said Cyrus.

Under Cyrus’ guidance, Crunch Fitness began partnering with Broadway shows to offer group fitness classes structured around show choreography. Each quarter, dancers from different shows teach Crunch’s members their show’s routine. “We’ve done In the Heights, Hairspray, Chorus Line, and we’re getting ready to partner with Cindi Lauper’s new show called Kinky Boots,” said Cyrus. “I like to go to those [classes] and pretend I’m back on the stage.”

Cyrus said she is grateful for the creative freedom that being the senior vice president of programming allows her. “I’m always searching for the next new thing, because that’s what our members are here for,” said Cyrus. “Our retention level is probably the highest for classes, of the major chains. Everyone has their thing and [Group X] is really our offering in the industry. It provides me with a lot of freedom.”

Although Cyrus no longer appears on Broadway, she still shines in front of group fitness classes as an instructor, teaching classes such as Spinning®, when her time permits. “I’m on the road two weeks a month so it’s sort of difficult,” joked Cyrus. “I would fire myself because I’m never there!”

 

By: Rachel Zabonick

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