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Group X



Today, most people have a limited time frame in which to workout. Between parenting, going to school, spending time with friends and family and many other obligations, working out can often fall to the bottom of the list. That can be the case even if you’re a well-known fitness expert such as Jillian Michaels, who’s best known for her appearances on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and “Losing It with Jillian.”

“I’m a mom of two small kids, I’m a business woman, I have a family to take care of, my parents, my partner,” listed Michaels. “People are busy. We don’t often have 60 minutes to get a workout in — it’s a huge luxury.”

With this in mind Michaels was inspired to create the Jillian Michaels BODYSHRED program, specifically targeted towards the members of health clubs. In just 30 minutes those that take the class can experience a quick, and more importantly, effective workout. “The fact that it’s only 30 minutes is really important, but the fact that they’re going to see incredible results in only 30 minutes is what keeps them coming back,” explained Michaels.

The program is a high intensity, endurance-based program that follows Michaels’ “3-2-1 philosophy” of three minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio and one minute of abs. In addition to being only half an hour long, other hallmarks of the program include the fact it’s extremely customizable.

“BODYSHRED basically incorporates every singly modality of fitness in as many different ways as possible,” said Michaels. “It has an exercise index of over 250 exercises, so whenever you go, you’re getting a different workout. The body can never adapt and never plateau, and in my opinion, it creates the most well-rounded athlete, as well as the most impressive aesthetic transformations, in a very accelerated period of time.”

Crunch, based in New York City, was the first gym to offer the BODYSHRED program. According to Donna Cyrus, the senior vice president of programming for Crunch, the class has been well received by instructors and members alike. “It was a big hit for us right away because it’s a really clean, hard, good workout and the options are safe,” she said. “They’re difficult, but they’re safe.”

A testimony to the program’s effectiveness is its continued popularity at Crunch since its launch. “We have 50, 60 people in a class and I think we’ve had it for almost three years now,” said Cyrus. “I know for a fact that if her name was on it and the program wasn’t good — our members wouldn’t care. The celebrity plays a big part, but [Michaels has] proved that she’s not just a personal trainer — she actually knows her stuff.”

In addition to being a fun, quick and effective workout for members, Michaels also wanted to cater to instructors by creating a program they could put their own personal spin on, hence the large index of exercises. “I wanted to have BODYSHRED allow these trainers to insert their own personalities and styles,” explained Michaels. “I was talking with one of our master trainers the other day and she was showing me a class she put together out of BODYSHRED and it was genius. For her, this was her creation. She used the [BODYSHRED] science, but it was her creation.”

To help instructors truly succeed in the concept, Michaels created ShredNET, a hub for BODYSHRED instructors to share ideas, workouts and support. “We really want to bring all of these trainers to one hub, one place, get them sharing ideas and build a fountain of education for them they’ll constantly go back to and share,” she said.

As for why a fitness expert well known for personal training would create a program that revolves around Group X, Michaels explained that in reality, one-on-one training is just too expensive for most individuals. “A lot of people don’t have the money [for personal training], they just don’t,” she said. “That’s something we have to appreciate and understand, and therefore I think Group X is a great solution to that.”

In addition to being affordable, Michaels explained she also enjoys the social aspect of group exercise. “It’s really supportive, it’s really social, it’s motivating, it’s fun, it gets you out of the house, it makes you accountable if you’re meeting friends there — you’re not going to find that in any other sort of fitness format, personal training or otherwise,” she said.

At the end of the day, Michaels seems to have carved out a niche in Group X programming that has struck a chord with particular big-box operators. In April 2015, Life Time Fitness announced the addition of Jillian Michaels BODYSHRED to its Group Fitness Featured Format lineup. As a result, the class will be launched at all of Life Time’s locations throughout the year.

In addition, as Michaels continues to market the program towards more health clubs, she’s also keeping an eye towards the future. “We’re looking at things like YogaWorks and SoulCycle or Flywheel and [asking] … is there a boutique business down the road where we bring BODYSHRED in-house and expand on the philosophies and the format?,” she speculated. “We really see this as limitless.”

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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