On November 14, 2015, Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey with a kick to the head 59 seconds into round two of a match, shocking millions of MMA fans around the world. Simply put, the event was a major one for what some have called the fastest-growing sport on the planet.
Due to the rise in MMA’s popularity, it, kickboxing and boxing have become appealing to the masses, leading to the rise of boutique franchises dedicated to these programming styles, like 9Round and TITLE Boxing Club. In addition, many gyms have begun incorporating similar programs into their group class schedules.
“The popularity of the boxing, kickboxing and MMA style workout has unquestionably been on the rise during the last several years, especially among women,” clarified Christine DiBugnara, the national director of group fitness and programming for UFC Gym. “We are seeing a rise in popularity with female fighters in mainstream media and this even further broadens the range for consumer awareness. Additionally, these types of workouts can be incredibly empowering and offer an experience some traditional fitness workouts cannot.”
So, how can you meet the demand for those seeking to fight in the style of Rousey or Holm?
> Discover what participants want
According to DiBurgnara, first you need to understand the type of experience your members are seeking when they ask for these programming styles. “There are many participants who are simply looking for a great high intensity conditioning experience that will leave them sweating and feeling challenged,” she explained. “Alternatively, there are other participants who may be searching for a more technical experience where the instructor slows the tempo to focus on improving striking techniques and execution. Each individual class should speak specifically to these goals and allow the participant to choose a class that will address their fitness objective.”
> Create your framework
According to DiBugnara, a framework for each class is important to guaranteeing the class’ success. “Having the framework of the class curriculum is essential so the instructor’s teaching lesson aligns with the pre-determined objectives for the class,” she explained. “A program can be rigidly designed or allow for freedom within the framework, but there must be a strong concept that can be easily executed and scaled so every instructor will successfully deliver a great participant experience.”
> Find the perfect talent
Finally, DiBugnara stressed that like all Group X classes, a great and knowledgable instructor is key. “The instructor is the delivery system and can create an impactful response from the participant if done well or poorly,” she said. “So hiring top-level talent is critical. Instructors must be qualified, prepared and engaging. They must be able to adapt to working in large groups with varying personalities and have the skillset to teach and educate, while making the experience memorable.”
> Get the scheduling right
Once these components are met, scheduling is the next challenge. DiBugnara explained scheduling these types of classes on your club’s weekly calendar takes a strong understanding of your consumer base. “Your class demographics can change hourly, so the club’s class scheduler must have a strong comprehension of their customer’s needs during the heaviest foot traffic hours so they can calendar the right classes at the right times, while ensuring the schedule remains balanced and user friendly,” she added.
Although MMA, boxing and kickboxing are rising in popularity, that doesn’t mean you should take the plunge without first evaluating whether or not you can meet the demand efficiently and effectively. “Any gym considering this type of program should remember they must conceptualize a class that will fit their members’ needs and ensure they have the right talent to deliver it,” said DiBugnara.