Preparing an enticing group exercise program not only requires creative thinking, but it also calls for a robust budget. Offering the hottest trends in group exercise involves buying the corresponding equipment — BOSU balls, cycling bikes, yoga mats, resistance bands or kettlebells, for example. So before you invest, make sure the class will be a long-lasting trend, rather than a quickly-passing fad.
For Donna Cyrus, the vice president of programming at Crunch, deciding which classes to launch is a multi-step process. “We always have what I call our ‘meat and potato classes,’ which are your Chisel and body-sculpting programs, things that every gym has to have,” said Cyrus. “From there, I am always looking for trends — what are the hottest things, what are people talking about?”
The Crunch brand is known for unique and exciting classes for every fitness level. It is the place where fitness meets entertainment. So when looking for new fitness trends, Cyrus says it is important to be creative and think outside the box.
“I look for trends that may not even be in fitness at this point, but could have the ability to be a great fitness program, whether it’s shows or entertainment or what is trending in the paper,” said Cyrus. “I have never been afraid to try something that no one else has wanted to try and find that they become trends later on.”
One such risk was launching POUND, a full-body cardio exercise program that combines Pilates, isometric exercise and light resistance with weighted drumsticks called Ripstix. “That was taking a big chance because I didn’t know if people were going to want to take some drumsticks and bang on the floor, but they do,” said Cyrus. “The members really love it. It has been a great launch for us.”
If you are apprehensive about taking a chance and launching a new class, there are a few factors that may indicate whether a program is going to be a quick fad or long-lasting trend. According to Cyrus, a class is more likely to be successful if it is something that people of all fitness levels can do. “Make sure the level of expertise is not so dramatic that people aren’t discouraged from trying it,” said Cyrus. “It should appeal to the masses.”
Once Cyrus decides on a new class, they will test it for three months to see what the response is. If the feedback is positive, they will expand to other markets, at which point it will become a staple class. “I don’t expand to our core markets unless I am pretty sure it is going to be a success,” said Cyrus.
According to Cyrus, a good way to test a program and see its potential success is to buy one or two pieces of the equipment and put them in a circuit class. “If people think it is great and everyone is trying to do it, then you know it has possibilities of being a class of its own,” explained Cyrus. “If it is too hard and too complicated, then members will eventually decide not to do the class.”
So what is the next big group exercise program? Cyrus believes anything that is fun and entertaining, but most importantly quick, has the promise of success. “People want fast workouts that take the least amount of time,” said Cyrus. “I also think the future is small pieces of equipment that are not taking up your entire room. With the lack of time that people have, they don’t want to get into class and have to put down a set of weights, a body bar and a step. They want to get in, get the workout done and get out.”
By Emily Harbourne