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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Everyone's talking about...: Group exercise gyms

Standalone group exercise studios – offering dance classes, yoga or cycling – aren’t new, but the rate at which they are popping up seems to be getting faster. So is this a lasting trend or a passing fad?

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

The great thing about group exercise studios is that they require very little kit: it’s a simple formula and inexpensive to roll out. Added to this, group exercise has a universal appeal thanks to the camaraderie it builds, with members who do group exercise also more likely to remain with a health club than a gym-only exerciser. No surprise, then, that operators are starting to investigate the potential of standalone group exercise studios.

Fitness First Middle East is one of the big players to cash in on this trend with a new group exercise-only concept, The Studio by Fitness First. According to group operations and marketing director Mark Botha, the appeal for Fitness First is that these 4,000sq ft facilities can be opened up quickly and slotted into areas where the demographics make a full gym inviable.

So are group exercise-only facilities set to become a lasting trend, or will they just be a passing fad? Will the likes of Zumba lose their allure, or will the popularity of these studios in fact ensure there is constant innovation in group exercise programming?

Could this even be the key to pushing up the industry’s market penetration, as people who are put off the idea of a full gym membership might commit to taking part in a group exercise class once or twice a week? Or will traditional gyms lose members who joined primarily for the exercise classes?

The trend may even encourage gyms to revise their own internal group exercise model, charging booking fees to reserve a place in busy classes for example – as at New York cycling club SoulCycle – or even creating a boutique, added-fee area within the club.

Will we start to see some of the big names going into towns which would be too small for a full gym, but which could support a studio, or will it be entrepreneurs who drive the trend? We ask the experts for their thoughts.

Phillip Mills,

CEO,

Les Mills International

“Unlike budget gyms, the growth of the micro gym has not negatively impacted traditional clubs. That these clubs have grown without eating into traditional membership rates suggests that either a new breed of consumer is being welcomed into the fitness industry, or those with gym memberships are also adding a micro gym experience.

Group exercise has always been one of the most powerful ways to tap into the touch-points of community, motivation, convenience, time and results, and micro gyms have focused on this. Some of the new-style micros like Crossfit are even attracting young men and others to whom club stereotypes may not appeal. And they are happy to pay a premium.

But in the long term, I feel our industry may follow other sectors: people generally prefer to shop at a supermarket, with access to a host of products, rather than selecting individual items at small local stores. Traditional clubs should see this as an opportunity to profit from their group training – for example, by creating boutique spaces and charging members who want to reserve a place in high-demand sessions. SoulCycle charges US$30 a class and an extra US$30 to reserve a place.”

Doyle Armstrong,

Product specialist,

Indoor Cycling Group

Doyle Armstrong
Doyle Armstrong

“Group exercise facilities are here to stay – especially in London, where we are seeing more studios springing up which focus on one type of activity, like cycling or yoga. No-one has yet done the full works, with a mix of group exercise options, but I think they will in the future, especially outside of the London area.

For this concept to work, the quality of instruction is of prime importance, with great instructors supported by CPD. Rather than necessarily increase market penetration, I think group exercise studios will probably attract existing gym members who only use the classes at their club. The good thing is that these people tend to be frequent attendees.

In terms of the impact this trend will have on the industry, I think it will make operators look at how they provide group exercise and encourage them to invest in this area, especially in the education of their instructors. For many clubs, the current quality of class delivery needs to be addressed.

I don’t think chains will react by launching studio brands – I don’t think it’s a scaleable business model, so I think the trend will be driven by independents rather than chains.”

Mark Botha,

Operations director,

Fitness First Middle East/North Africa

Mark Botha
Mark Botha

“One of the lessons we have learned in the Middle East is that many people don’t want to join a gym and aren’t interested in weights or treadmills, but will happily pay £15 for a single group exercise class. Around 40 per cent of Fitness First’s attendance in the Middle East is for group exercise.

The trend for group exercise-only facilities will absolutely improve market penetration: it’s more appealing for those to whom the gym will never appeal. Also, there is the camaraderie of group exercise and engagement with the instructor, all of which help drive retention.

For the industry, this is an exciting opportunity which operators should embrace. I think we will see more clubs diversifying, as there’s no reason not to launch a separate membership for group exercise, just as many local authority and private clubs already offer for swimming. Unless we change with the times, we will always get what we have always got.

Members want innovation and convenience, not inflexibility, and they want to pay only for the services they use. The industry should move fast on this, otherwise lot of freelance concepts will spring up, fracturing the market.”

David Cooper,

Operations director,

Gymbox

David Cooper
David Cooper

“All in all, I think group exercise-only studios is an exciting and interesting trend, and it’s an avenue that Gymbox might be interested in exploring at a later date.

For these studios to work, it’s important that they offer something unique and different from what gyms are offering. They need to be specialised – without being so specialised that they only appeal to one market – and offer excellent instruction.

People don’t want to do the same thing all the time – they want to have progression – and I think these studios can be small enough to adapt quickly to their customers’ needs and offer the next curve of fitness.

With a unique product offering, I think they will be successful in pulling new customers into the industry, especially those who have preconceptions of gym workouts being boring. However, until the concept matures, it will stay in the major cities rather than spreading to provincial towns.

It’s more likely that entrepreneurs will drive this trend than the larger chains, as it’s entrepreneurs who break the mould. But the chains are going to have to move fast to keep up.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2013_2about.gif
Will the current influx of standalone group exercise studios be a lasting trend or just a passing fad? We ask the experts
Phillip Mills, Les Mills International • CEO. Doyle Armstrong, Indoor Cycling Group • Product specialist, Mark Botha, Fitness First Middle East/North Africa • Operations director, David Cooper, Gymbox • Operations director,Standalone group exercise studios, dance classes, yoga or cycling
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features

Everyone's talking about...: Group exercise gyms

Standalone group exercise studios – offering dance classes, yoga or cycling – aren’t new, but the rate at which they are popping up seems to be getting faster. So is this a lasting trend or a passing fad?

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

The great thing about group exercise studios is that they require very little kit: it’s a simple formula and inexpensive to roll out. Added to this, group exercise has a universal appeal thanks to the camaraderie it builds, with members who do group exercise also more likely to remain with a health club than a gym-only exerciser. No surprise, then, that operators are starting to investigate the potential of standalone group exercise studios.

Fitness First Middle East is one of the big players to cash in on this trend with a new group exercise-only concept, The Studio by Fitness First. According to group operations and marketing director Mark Botha, the appeal for Fitness First is that these 4,000sq ft facilities can be opened up quickly and slotted into areas where the demographics make a full gym inviable.

So are group exercise-only facilities set to become a lasting trend, or will they just be a passing fad? Will the likes of Zumba lose their allure, or will the popularity of these studios in fact ensure there is constant innovation in group exercise programming?

Could this even be the key to pushing up the industry’s market penetration, as people who are put off the idea of a full gym membership might commit to taking part in a group exercise class once or twice a week? Or will traditional gyms lose members who joined primarily for the exercise classes?

The trend may even encourage gyms to revise their own internal group exercise model, charging booking fees to reserve a place in busy classes for example – as at New York cycling club SoulCycle – or even creating a boutique, added-fee area within the club.

Will we start to see some of the big names going into towns which would be too small for a full gym, but which could support a studio, or will it be entrepreneurs who drive the trend? We ask the experts for their thoughts.

Phillip Mills,

CEO,

Les Mills International

“Unlike budget gyms, the growth of the micro gym has not negatively impacted traditional clubs. That these clubs have grown without eating into traditional membership rates suggests that either a new breed of consumer is being welcomed into the fitness industry, or those with gym memberships are also adding a micro gym experience.

Group exercise has always been one of the most powerful ways to tap into the touch-points of community, motivation, convenience, time and results, and micro gyms have focused on this. Some of the new-style micros like Crossfit are even attracting young men and others to whom club stereotypes may not appeal. And they are happy to pay a premium.

But in the long term, I feel our industry may follow other sectors: people generally prefer to shop at a supermarket, with access to a host of products, rather than selecting individual items at small local stores. Traditional clubs should see this as an opportunity to profit from their group training – for example, by creating boutique spaces and charging members who want to reserve a place in high-demand sessions. SoulCycle charges US$30 a class and an extra US$30 to reserve a place.”

Doyle Armstrong,

Product specialist,

Indoor Cycling Group

Doyle Armstrong
Doyle Armstrong

“Group exercise facilities are here to stay – especially in London, where we are seeing more studios springing up which focus on one type of activity, like cycling or yoga. No-one has yet done the full works, with a mix of group exercise options, but I think they will in the future, especially outside of the London area.

For this concept to work, the quality of instruction is of prime importance, with great instructors supported by CPD. Rather than necessarily increase market penetration, I think group exercise studios will probably attract existing gym members who only use the classes at their club. The good thing is that these people tend to be frequent attendees.

In terms of the impact this trend will have on the industry, I think it will make operators look at how they provide group exercise and encourage them to invest in this area, especially in the education of their instructors. For many clubs, the current quality of class delivery needs to be addressed.

I don’t think chains will react by launching studio brands – I don’t think it’s a scaleable business model, so I think the trend will be driven by independents rather than chains.”

Mark Botha,

Operations director,

Fitness First Middle East/North Africa

Mark Botha
Mark Botha

“One of the lessons we have learned in the Middle East is that many people don’t want to join a gym and aren’t interested in weights or treadmills, but will happily pay £15 for a single group exercise class. Around 40 per cent of Fitness First’s attendance in the Middle East is for group exercise.

The trend for group exercise-only facilities will absolutely improve market penetration: it’s more appealing for those to whom the gym will never appeal. Also, there is the camaraderie of group exercise and engagement with the instructor, all of which help drive retention.

For the industry, this is an exciting opportunity which operators should embrace. I think we will see more clubs diversifying, as there’s no reason not to launch a separate membership for group exercise, just as many local authority and private clubs already offer for swimming. Unless we change with the times, we will always get what we have always got.

Members want innovation and convenience, not inflexibility, and they want to pay only for the services they use. The industry should move fast on this, otherwise lot of freelance concepts will spring up, fracturing the market.”

David Cooper,

Operations director,

Gymbox

David Cooper
David Cooper

“All in all, I think group exercise-only studios is an exciting and interesting trend, and it’s an avenue that Gymbox might be interested in exploring at a later date.

For these studios to work, it’s important that they offer something unique and different from what gyms are offering. They need to be specialised – without being so specialised that they only appeal to one market – and offer excellent instruction.

People don’t want to do the same thing all the time – they want to have progression – and I think these studios can be small enough to adapt quickly to their customers’ needs and offer the next curve of fitness.

With a unique product offering, I think they will be successful in pulling new customers into the industry, especially those who have preconceptions of gym workouts being boring. However, until the concept matures, it will stay in the major cities rather than spreading to provincial towns.

It’s more likely that entrepreneurs will drive this trend than the larger chains, as it’s entrepreneurs who break the mould. But the chains are going to have to move fast to keep up.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2013_2about.gif
Will the current influx of standalone group exercise studios be a lasting trend or just a passing fad? We ask the experts
Phillip Mills, Les Mills International • CEO. Doyle Armstrong, Indoor Cycling Group • Product specialist, Mark Botha, Fitness First Middle East/North Africa • Operations director, David Cooper, Gymbox • Operations director,Standalone group exercise studios, dance classes, yoga or cycling
Latest News
Sport England has vowed to tackle inequality and create a nation of "more equal, inclusive ...
Latest News
Fitness instructors, personal trainers, coaches and other self-employed physical activity workers in Wales are being ...
Latest News
HCM editor, Liz Terry, has launched a Parliamentary Petition calling for gyms to be in ...
Latest News
The failure to tackle the UK's obesity crisis is down to successive governments being guilty ...
Latest News
Les Mills has launched a new digital content solution to support health and fitness operators ...
Latest News
Gymbox has entered the hospitality space with the signing of a deal to deliver in-room ...
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Nuffield Health has launched a series of free, online classes focused on emotional wellbeing. The ...
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Forget the ‘Netflix effect’ – it’s all about the ‘iFit effect’ to boost member retention
Addiction – a word laden with negativity. But isn’t that exactly what the fitness industry wants? For members to be addicted (in a healthy way) to exercise – not just to increase profits but, most importantly, so they can live happier, healthier and longer lives.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Storytelling - the future of fitness content
Heading into 2021, storytelling will be a key trend among fitness content creators and connected fitness providers, as the industry recognises its potential to unlock ultra- engaging experiences that boost retention.
Video Gallery
CPASE creates unforgettable luxury member experience at new boutique club with Technogym
Technogym
Technogym has equipped Clare Stobart's new boutique health club – CPASE. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Physical Company Ltd
Physical Company provides specialist fitness solutions. This includes equipment, flooring, gym design, programming and training ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Incorpore Limited
Incorpore Ltd is a leading fitness and wellness company which has been successfully delivering solutions ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Egym: Game changer
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Fitness equipment
Precor: Fitness equipment
Fitness Software
FunXtion International BV: Fitness Software
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Property & Tenders
11 - 25 Union St, London SE1 1SD
Bankside Open Spaces Trust
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
02-04 Feb 2021
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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