Outdoor Fitness: Thinking Outside of the Box
Outdoor fitness boomed during the coronavirus pandemic. While some clubs turned to the offering temporarily in order to continue operations, some brands are making these permanent additions to their offering lists.
One of those facilities is the Stone Creek Club & Spa in Covington, Louisiana.
“Closures and health concerns created the need to move more of our services outside and as an industry, we saw the members embrace it and demand it,” said Marvin Gresse, the general manager of Stone Creek Club & Spa. “Exercising outdoors has many health benefits from lowering stress and anxiety to helping you unplug from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Being in the outdoors alone is good for your body and soul — adding exercise certainly enhances that to the next level.”
Stone Creek Club & Spa sits on 25 acres, enabling it to offer an array of activities and options for members. The club has a fitness trail that loops around the property extending eight-tenths of a mile. “It is crushed limestone and winds through the woods to give you an escape from your hectic day,” said Gresse. “Our lap and resort pool are used for lap swimming and aquatic exercise classes. We have 14 tennis courts and five pickleball courts. Besides court play, we have cardio tennis classes that attract non-tennis players as well.”
Additionally, the club will take some group fitness classes outside to the event lawn or the balconies overlooking the pool complex. Their most popular Saturday morning boot camp class utilizes the fitness trail, lawn and parking areas to get members into the fresh air.
In order to be successful at outdoor fitness, Larry Conner, the former president and general manager of Stone Creek Club & Spa, said programming, embracing the nature around you and having something for the different segments of members in your club are vital.
“Have the same versatile approach you have inside, now outside,” said Conner. “Try to have as many options outside as you do inside. HIIT is huge for our members, and we see that outdoors as well. Listen to the feedback and needs of your members and adapt as the crowds and desires of your members change.”
While offering outdoor classes may seem like a temporary fix for some clubs, others are seeing new potential the offering could bring to their facility as more people discover that exercise is medicine. When the weather is nice, Gresse said it’s important they are outside with your trainers, rather than somewhere else.
“The option for members to take their fitness outdoors is a natural progression for clubs,” said Gresse. “Embrace the benefits and variation outdoor workouts give your members, and offer them all the opportunities to do it at your club — not somewhere else. Keep them connected to your staff, your club culture, offerings and their fellow members. It will boost your retention and the value they have in the club.”