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New Year, New Direction


When a member peruses your club’s Group X schedule they are likely to notice yoga, Zumba, cycling, and probably Pilates as well. These are fitness staples, the classes that most clubs offer year after year.

However, classes such as Tabata, interval training, boot camps, small group training and HIIT have been popping up on schedules at health clubs across the country. In fact, for the past two years, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has landed in the top spots on ACSM’s annual Top 20 Fitness Trends list.

“The efficiency and effectiveness of HIIT make them appealing,” said Sheila Gardner, the group fitness director at Gainesville Health and Fitness. “It is great bang for your buck. Members love being able to get an effective workout in a shorter period of time. This format is also popular with those that do not like the ‘dancey’ classes with a lot of choreography. They can be easily modified for all fitness levels.”

Are the shorter, high intensity protocols here to stay? We spoke with a few fitness professionals who gave their opinion about what is in store for 2016.

Individualized Programming 

There is no silver bullet to fitness success. A format that works for one person might not work for another. Recognizing this, fitness offerings are becoming increasingly diverse. Between personal training, large group classes and the recent emergence of small group training, members now have more options than ever.

“I think we are going to see a shift away from the high intensity, one-size-fits-all formats and instead more of a thoughtful approach to exercise,” said Pete McCall, an ACE fitness expert.

Shorter Classes 

Between juggling work, family and friends, your members rarely have time to commit to a 60-minute workout. McCall explained clubs might begin shifting to shorter 30 to 40 minute classes.

Gardner agrees: Members will appreciate having a variety of longer and shorter classes to choose from. “Express-type classes where members can get in and out, but can also have the option of blocking classes together for longer workouts,” she explained.

Wearable Tech 

Your members like being able to track their progress and know exactly how hard they are working. An estimated 19 million fitness-tracking devices were in use in 2014 and that number is expected to grow exponentially.

“Programs that provide accountability and track results, such as wearable technology, fitness apps and fitness evaluations, will be popular,” said John Boyd, the group fitness director at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. “Wearable technology can be a personal unit or in-house club sponsored units such as MYZONE.”

Recovery Classes 

Making a more prominent appearance on Group X schedules in 2016 will be recovery and mobility classes. Many clubs are already featuring classes related to flexibility, stretching, foam rolling and therapy.

“This may be more of a specialty-type class,” said Boyd. “Now that baby boomers are getting directed toward exercise, they may be more financially sound and in need of additional attention relating to injuries and specific heath conditions.”

Big Box Gyms Make a Come Back 

For the last few years small, boutique studios have been dominating the market. Clients flocked to their unique and specialized programming. But according to McCall, this might change in 2016.

“I think what you are going to see is health clubs catching up in terms of programming,” said McCall. “People will be tired of spending all this money to go to different studios and instead want the benefits of going to a health club where everything is under one roof. I think health clubs will have an opportunity to re-position themselves and really get the business back.”

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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