Group X — The Opportunity in Technology, Part 3
I’m back with a follow-up to my previous post on group fitness and tech! I do my best to be in the know on the cutting-edge of new fitness ideas and trends — and pondering how they can be utilized to enhance health club growth and increase revenue, especially the ones that cost little to no money to implement. Savvy club owners know that while group exercise members can be incredibly loyal to their favorite instructors, the siren song of exciting new classes offered elsewhere can also be very tempting.
The interesting thing about all of the trends I have spotted is that group fitness supported technology can be integrated into nearly all of these formats. Use your imagination and as you read through some of this trend spotting, imagine how adding heart rate tracking might enhance the experience for the member.
It is amazing to see, as trends come and go in our space, the new and somewhat out-there ideas continue to come onto the scene. I actually read about a new class featuring crawling — yep, that cute thing you used to do as a baby — that is now becoming a hot new group fitness class idea. “Crawling is the new plank,” said the Washington Post just a few months ago, and already this trend is packing clubs in London and New York City. Crawling is a technique already in use by physical therapists for rehabilitating certain shoulder girdle and pelvic injuries. This isometric movement also strengthens core muscle groups and helps develop unilateral muscle tone in all four limbs. Crawling classes involve lots of floor work and bodyweight exercises, so it requires a nice open group fitness room, but no expensive equipment.
Another hot topic that I am noticing is the notion of how club owners can help to monetize the rest day. Some studios are even offering “nap classes,” featuring guided meditations, cozy blankets and super padded mats reminiscent of kindergarten days.
Hydrotherapy, sometimes called float therapy, is also becoming a very popular added attraction for health and fitness clubs. The new float tanks now available are light-years ahead from the sensory deprivation tanks of old. Several pounds of high-quality salt is dissolved in only 10 inches of water, making it dense enough that you can actually float on top and experience a feeling of weightlessness usually only enjoyed by astronauts or deep sea divers. Experts say there’s a wide range of benefits to float therapy, ranging from a release of toxins from the skin to relieving symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. The initial investment for a float tank set up is in the $4,000 to $10,000 range, but would quickly build a fanatic following among your more adventurous members. Having done it myself, if is definitely an experience to check out.
And of course, we know that classes such as pole dancing are making way into smaller health clubs and studios as part of their group fitness experience. Sturdy steel poles can be easily installed for a relatively small investment — well worth it, as these are sure to become extremely popular classes. Pole dancing not only builds muscle in a fairly short period of time, it focuses quite well on certain “problem areas,” like the waist, back and hips. Participants claim pole classes improve core strength, balance and coordination, as well as releasing stress and adding to overall psychological and emotional health.
With so many fads constantly coming and going, it’s more important than ever before to stay in-tune with your clients’ wants and needs. Savvy club owners know to balance being on-trend without sacrificing the fitness experience your customers crave. Of course, group fitness trends will always be coming and going, and it is important for club owners to stay focused on what their members are wanting to see from them and also what is trending.
As industry leaders supporting our members it is so important we think of ways to enhance, sustain and support what fitness seekers are looking to experience. Never losing sight of the fact that we are all mobile, computer ready and more tech savvy than ever, how can this fact make the health club environment more fun and exciting? The good news, the possibilities are exponential.
Lindsey Rainwater, also known as Lindsey RainH2O, is a sought-after business advisor, founder, writer & keynote speaker to the fitness and wellness industry. For more information about Rainwater, follow her on Twitter@LindseyRainH2O.