Club Insider

Creation Vs. Evolution

The Religion of Programming

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Bill McBrideBill McBride

We are facing disruption in our industry with increased segmentation and specialization. Our challenge as operators is to discern trends that have longevity with fads that will be a "flash in the pan." Studios and specialization are now everywhere! What should we do? Should we create a program or programs that attempt to compete directly with the studios with specialized offerings that are popular today? When it comes to trends and programming, this is the fundamental question we operators are asking ourselves... or need to be. Do we CREATE completely new programs to follow trends (and possibly fads), or do we stay fresh on our current traditional offering while EVOLVING with elements of efficacy from new technologies and consumer-adopted preferences?

  • We have seen the surge in Small Group Interval Training (SGIT) with Heart Rate (HR) technology. This space is currently in full adoption mode. Most forward thinking clubs are implementing SGIT with multiple apparatuses: Cages, TRX, Sleds, Balls, Slam Bags, Ropes, Kettlebells and everything else imaginable. Many have added turf and open areas and are utilizing MyZone, Polar or one of the other technologies now available for heart rate measurement in class and beyond. This type of programming, while efficient and getting a lot of attention, can still be somewhat intimidating to a large group of people. In this arena, it is imperative to make it mainstream and use the HR technology as an equalizer for all to be able to succeed based on their own effort. The routines must be doable and user-friendly. A lot of focus has to be given on the regular exerciser, not the somewhat more extreme fitness enthusiast. A lot of operators are seeing success in this arena with the more advanced exercisers. But, let's not forget about the less advanced in functional movement; making simpler while using all the camaraderie and technology of the HR measurement is the great equalizer. Team/Group exercise does increase efficacy and adherence and should not be minimized. Figuring this out is important.
  • We have seen a surge in Yoga offerings. Remember, Yoga is a practice, not a trend or fad. People spend a lifetime practicing yoga, mastering Yoga. They have a noun: Yogi. It means a person proficient in Yoga. Yoga isn't going anywhere, and it cannot be faked. To have a viable Yoga program, you have to have stellar Yoga/Yogis teaching and a variety of offerings. is a great resource in finding Yoga instructors and obtaining training for your Yoga program. There are others as well. The point being that, to offer Yoga in clubs that compete with the specialization of Yoga studios, you need to have high quality Yoga classes with high-quality, well-trained Yoga instructors/practitioners.
  • We have seen a surge in cycle offerings. Cycling has also proven not to be a fad. Outdoor cycling is actually a sport. Thus, we can presume that cycling isn't going anywhere. There are so many levels of cycling. Some cycle indoor to augment their outdoor routines. Some are committed just to indoor cycling as a fitness activity in and of itself. For the most part, when you look at the cycling studios and space, there are fundamentally two varieties: "Dance Party on a Bike" and "Cycle Training." Of course, this is an oversimplification of the spectrum. Various studio models focus on variants of each. They range from "Exertainment" to active fun and cycle training. My advice to traditional club operators is that we have 2 - 3 varieties of cycle class formats with very strong charismatic personalities teaching all.
  • We have seen a surge in boxing offerings. I think that most clubs should offer some boxing training formats. A lot of times, this can be done within hybrid classes or as a part of your Small Group High Intensity Interval Training (SGHIIT) program. But, boxing modalities are currently attractive and engaging. While boxing is a sport, boxing training seems to be much more than a fad and more of a trend in class formats.

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