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Group Fitness — Is Your Club Staying Ahead of the Curve?

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Group fitness, for most clubs, is a vital component to success. Now, more than ever, it is at its height due to the rise of the boutique studio market — a 450% increase in the last two years. Studios continue to create experiences and communities that are shaking up how people want to work out. But health clubs can also compete in this market.

Take, for example, Merritt Clubs. They knew back in 2014 they needed to add classes that were trending and what their members were seeking. So what did they do? They added barre classes.

The same thing happened at GoodLife Fitness. Mo Hagan, the brand’s vice president of program innovation, saw the need to spice up the class offerings, so she added two new group fitness programs that were hot on the market. She reported she saw a 6% increase in group fitness participation in just six months after implementation — a stat not to be overlooked.

Because group fitness classes are important to member acquisition and retention, health clubs would do best to step back and take a look at their group fitness timetable.

Is the schedule exciting, or has it been the same class offerings for the last 10 years? Is it consistent, or are there random classes once a week? Have you asked your members what they are interested in? What other classes could they be taking outside the gym? Take a survey and get feedback on what they are seeking, as well as what instructors are looking to teach. This hard data will help analyze next steps.

There are a number of solid, comprehensive programs out there to choose from, which is exciting and good news. This is one area health clubs should expand. Create a tight, yet diverse class offering that keeps the schedule exciting, as well as consistent. Members like choices, but it has to make sense. Lack of class diversity can kill a member’s interest.

Implementing a new program can seem overwhelming in the beginning but done properly, like any new project, can be seriously rewarding for everyone: clubs, instructors and members.

  1. Choose wisely. Look for smart, results-driven, trending programs that have been researched and are what members will relate to.
  2. Create a partnership with the program company. Make sure there is support from headquarters so management is not in it alone.
  3. Get the whole team on board. Directors and instructors need to be behind the program or it will not be a success. Does the club have their support?
  4. Market well, create a buzz and build excitement! From flyers and posters, digital marketing to email blasts and special events, there are many options to get everyone excited for new programs. Change is good!

Group fitness brings individuals together and builds community. Health clubs can elevate the experiences with exciting class offerings and a strong team of instructors to stay ahead of the curve.

Stacey Seward Vandiver is the co-founder and CEO of SoulBody, a group fitness programming and subscription company. She can be reached at svandiver@soulbody.fitness.

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