Using Outdoor Group X Classes to Create Buzz

webFree, fun and fitness — that’s what “Shape Up Downtown” is all about.

In the spring of 2012, O2 Fitness launched an outdoor group fitness class series in Downtown Raleigh, N.C., which was called “Shape Up Downtown.” Residents participating in the series gathered for energetic, intense and entertaining workouts, at no expense.

On a city-owned outdoor turf in the heart of Downtown Raleigh, Shape Up Downtown hosted 20 classes — ranging from Les Mills® BodyCombat, to yoga, to O2 boot camps — during the month of April 2012. All were open to the general public — we only asked that participants register ahead of time and come prepared to sweat.

We kicked off the program with a Zumba flash mob and a press conference with Raleigh’s mayor. Participation was amazing right from the start. Each class had an average of 40 participants. Typically, 50 percent were members and 50 percent non-members.

Shape Up Downtown was derived from O2 Fitness wanting to give back to the local community and get people out from behind their desks and off their couches. Sometimes money is a barrier, but if it’s free, there is no excuse! We used our best instructors — two teaching each class, so one could help with first-timers — and had plenty of the O2 team helping out to make sure everyone was enjoying their workout.

The last night of April 2012’s Shape Up Downtown, we shut down the street and did an outdoor RPM cycle class, with cycle bikes right in the middle of the road!

At the end of the program, membership specials and incentives were offered to non-member participants, and we gained a few new members from the series. Shape Up Downtown was so successful (with over 350 unique participants) that we decided to host it again in October 2012, and will launch another series this month.

Not only did these outdoor classes benefit the local community, but it benefitted our members as well — they loved the program and continue to participate. With the weather being as nice as it is in North Carolina during April and October, it’s a great change of pace for our members to get out in the fresh air and take their favorite classes.

We also partnered with a local Nike representative and were able to offer attendees free Nike workout gear if they took five or more classes. We had about 40 people reach that number in the first season of Shape Up Downtown!

In addition, promotion was simple, and consisted of a few posters, a few e-mails and a street team wearing brightly colored Shape Up Downtown t-shirts who handed out flyers. We reached out to local media to secure some free radio and television spots in the form of a Public Service Announcement (PSA), and had a good bit of news picked up from our press releases and various media efforts.

It has been a wonderful program and something that O2 Fitness looks forward to continuing for many years to come.

To implement something similar in your club’s community, contact your local city or parks and recreation department to see where an event like this could be held. An outdoor group fitness series is fairly easy to implement, but also requires some creativity and an excited staff to ensure the success of the program. The community benefits by having quality fitness programs free of charge, and it’s a great way to brand your club as a fitness resource.


By Shanna Kane, the director of marketing for O2 Fitness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *