Emerging Group X Trends
Two industry leaders share the rising Group X trends they are seeing emerge that can help other health clubs post-COVID.
While Group X is not a new program in the fitness industry, there are fresh Group X trends emerging. The majority of what’s currently trending is due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Cleanliness, health and safety is at the top of everyone’s mind,” said Victoria Tolbert-Ashley, the national director of group exercise for Xsport Fitness. “Facilities have an increased focus on communicating to all community members that they are not only clean, but it remains a key priority for the future. Additionally, I am seeing a number of businesses take advantage of hybrid class scheduling. Supplementing their live class experience with digital in studio and/or virtual in home.”
One facility taking advantage of hybrid Group X classes is EōS Fitness. Joella Hopkins, the vice president of group fitness, said they are confident online classes will only enhance and increase members coming into the gyms to attend classes with each other.
“Our goal by continuing to offer these online classes as a hybrid to our regular in-the-gym classes is twofold: to offer people the opportunity if they can’t make it into the gym to still get to take their staple classes, but also to become more confident and comfortable taking classes so they can walk into the group fitness studio at the gym without any hesitation or intimidation,” said Hopkins. “Nothing can take the place of the energy, connection, inclusiveness and fun of a class at the gym with friends. We never want to lose that personal experience for our instructors and members. By offering both options, we feel we are doing what is best for our members, our team and ultimately our business.”
Another one of the emerging Group X trends is incorporating more technology into new programs.
Tolbert-Ashley said while Xsport Fitness has not fully decided on what new programs they are bringing to their members, they are planning to utilize their mobile app more.
EōS Fitness has incorporated technology into their group cycling offering with big screens and state-of-the-art programming to create an experience, not just a workout. “We want our members to go on a journey, not just sit on a bike and pedal in a room for an hour,” said Hopkins. “By adding visual stimulation, as well as technology with regard to power output and heart rate/zone training, our members have embraced their inner athlete and created more of a community with a healthy competitive spirit with their fellow members.”
Additionally, EōS Fitness has added virtual reality fitness through their exclusive partnership with Black Box VR. If someone is not ready to participate in a group class setting, they can instead try a fun, gamified workout privately. In fact, this can be a great segue into a group fitness class. By participating in this private workout, members have their own individual studio and learn many different exercises they would be doing in a group class.
“Because it’s so fun and entertaining, it’s something members can really look forward to and challenge themselves without having to feel insecure or embarrassed in front of other people,” explained Hopkins. “Then when they start to build up their confidence, our goal is to get them to walk into the group fitness studio and take a class without the feeling of intimidation many new people feel.”
While Group X is not a new program in the fitness industry, it can be a game changer in recovery and revenue post-COVID. Tolbert-Ashley offered one last trend in Group X: clubs taking their Group X service offering more seriously and actively looking to enhance the member experience with qualified instructors.
“I believe clubs will benefit from taking a deep dive into their Group X program from a complete business perspective,” said Tolbert-Ashley. “Find a way to increase the service offering and make the Group X experience a top priority, examining everything from employee experience, member experience and studio experience. Examine how the ROI can be maximized through a powerful Group X experience. Integrating the group experience with other service offerings will not only sharpen this under-tapped retention/revenue generating stream, but it will also increase consumer and community longevity, creating more loyal members.”