For Lydia Haskell, creating a space for group fitness instructors “to be the best they could be” was the dream.
That dream came true in 2013, when Haskell founded THE FITNESS RAVE, a studio centered around high-energy group fitness classes in Middle River, Maryland. There, Haskell believes instructors can reach their potential to be the drivers of retention and community.
“The first key to [THE FITNESS RAVE’s] success is providing raw, wonderful talent,” said Haskell. “I find the best instructors I can find, many of them Les Mills certified. I have a dynamic Zumba team and we are most proud of our hand-picked members that became certified instructors. I make my schedule diverse and offer variety with top-of-the-line instructors that have the incredible ability to create fitness magic with every class.”
In addition to four individual group fitness rooms, the studio boasts locker rooms, childcare, cardio, weights and a lounge area. The most unique feature includes the “rave” component of the gym, with each group fitness class treated like its own party.
Just like with traditional health clubs, Haskell explained the biggest challenges to success are operations related.
“I would say my biggest challenge has been having money for marketing,” explained Haskell. “I have built my entire business through word of mouth by my members and through social media. Direct competition of the opening of a ‘big box’ club, as well as other established competitor clubs, is also another challenge to contend with.”
However, Haskell believes her studio’s unique classes give her an advantage. “I overcome [competition] by continuing to provide exactly what I set out to do: Create the best fitness experiences and deliver on the promise our members fell in love with,” she said.
Haskell’s love for group fitness began in high school, during which time she became a group fitness instructor. “I was truly a product of the late 80s and 90s,” she recalled. “This was the dawn of aerobics. The second I saw Jane Fonda and the beginnings of Jazzersize, I knew this was for me.”
In college, Haskell transferred her passion into education and achieved a bachelor’s in kinesiology, with a minor in physical education. Group fitness has remained her passion since, leading her to win the IFBB Professional National Fitness Championships in 2003, and become a part of the Les Mills USA Training Team in 2005.
Today, Haskell continues to share her passion for Group X through her studio.
“My ultimate vision is to see A FITNESS RAVE in every major city across the country,” said Haskell. “When my members come to THE FITNESS RAVE, they know they are going to work hard, but they are also going to have fun. They know they are not alone and that they are going to make friends along the way.”