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In Print

Time is Money

group x

Do you ever feel like your Group X schedule has gone stale? Do you have hour-long blocks of cycling, yoga and kickboxing? Are you offering the same classes, day after day, week after week? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, it could be time for you to shake things up.

At Merritt Athletic Clubs, that has meant capitalizing on a new trend: Express classes. “We are increasing the express offerings with the consumer demand to get in and get their workout done fast,” said Donyel Cerceo, the director of marketing at Merritt Athletic Clubs. “People are busy and many say they don’t have time to workout. We are taking that excuse off the table.”

According to Devon Dohony, the regional group fitness manager at Merritt Athletic Clubs, these shorter Group X classes have become a growing trend. “These shorter, high intensity interval training classes have become more popular,” said Dohony. “You get in and get out in 30 to 45 minutes, but within that time you are really focusing on the high intensity and maximizing your results in a shorter amount of time.”

The club recently launched several new express format classes in order to better meet member demand, one of these being the Les Mills SPRINT class. “The program is actually a low-impact, high-intensity program, so you are not really putting any of the stress on your body,” said Dohony. “You are on a stationary bike and you are using speed and resistance to provide that workout. The whole class focuses on cardio peak training.”

Dohony explained the new SPRINT class has been a hit. Members love getting in and out of the club quickly, while still feeling like they got a great workout. “The feedback has been very positive, especially in our city clubs, which have a professional demographic with an age bracket between mid 20s and 40s,” she said. “They want to sweat, get a good workout in a short amount of time. As long as we give them that, then they are happy.”

However, offering just express classes won’t cure a poorly managed schedule. When it comes to keeping programming fresh, Lori Lowell, a Gold’s Gym franchisee, suggested continuously switching up the Group X schedule by cycling certain classes on and off. “What I have started doing is four weeks on, four weeks off,” said Lowell. “So something like Pound — it is a cool, fun workout, but it might not be sustainable ongoing. So what we do is put it on the schedule for four weeks. We tease our members with it and let them really get into the experience, and then take it away for four weeks. That way they are waiting for it to appear back on the schedule.”

An engaging Group X schedule revolves around creativity and innovation. According to Lowell it is not necessarily about the product or program, but how you deliver it. “For me, at this stage in the game, it is about constantly reinventing yourself and having fun,” said Lowell. “How can we reinvent our programs and give members things they have never done before? It is not necessarily the program, but what we do with it.”

Lowell explained it doesn’t matter what the program is, rather what is more important is how creative you are with rolling it out and delivering it. In fact, there might be classes that you already offer that can be expanded or re-developed. “How do we reinvent what we have to make it greater?” she asked. “People keep on thinking, what is the latest? What is the newest? But it is more about, what do we have that we can elaborate on? What do we have that we can make better? This is our barre class, now how about barre for men or a cross between barre and yoga?”

Your members have a lot of options, whether it is the boutique studio down the street or the new app that can help them workout on their own. Therefore, it is essential to maintain an evolving and innovative Group X schedule. “Directors need to think outside the box in creating an experience for their members because the competition is too fierce out there now,” said Lowell. “It is about thinking above and beyond the traditional fitness schedule.”

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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