Keeping up with fitness industry trends for group exercise involves tracking what experts in the field are saying, what your members/clients are asking for, and what equipment you have access to, either now or in the near future.
Here are three notable group fitness trends for this year and beyond. With planning and creativity, you can establish or enhance these trends (or variations of them) as part of your own fitness services or programming.
Fitness Technology for Groups
Technology is a prevailing trend in fitness, and its impact on group exercise is no exception. For example, virtual fitness classes are gaining momentum due to their convenience for members and studios. With virtual classes, members follow along to an instructor who is on screen and not in the room. Virtual classes sometimes happen in real time but are most often playbacks.
Tech devices as part of a live class are also increasingly popular. Each class participant straps on a heart-rate monitor or activity tracker. In some cases, tracker metrics are displayed on a screen for the whole class (and instructor) to see—the idea is that public stats provide motivation, a competitive spirit, and immediate feedback about how a person is responding to exercise intensity, recovery and progression.
Whether metrics are visible to the whole class or kept private per participant, fitness pros can leverage the fitness technology trend in classes by helping participants interpret tracker stats in ways that are most meaningful to their goals.
With a few exceptions, the fitness industry has been moving away from highly choreographed classes for some time. Workouts that are less choreographed allow instructors and participants to focus more closely on expanding equipment usage: The attraction becomes the equipment itself versus the choreography.
Some facilities with limited space and specialized equipment such as suspension training might play out this trend with a shift toward smaller groups and more individual attention (a trend in its own right). Other programs might offer larger classes with multiple equipment options. For example, participants could use sand weights, steps, kettlebells and more all in one class.
There are also equipment-based circuit classes that solve the problem of teaching to a large group when there isn’t enough equipment to go around. This format allows instructors, fitness managers and gym owners with limited space and/or budget to keep pace with trends in group fitness without having to store and supply equipment for each class member.
Recovery and Self-Massage
Fitness pros and consumers have been fixated on high-intensity exercise for a few years now, but with any intense workout, there must be an effort toward proper recovery as well. Enter the growing trend toward muscle recovery and self-massage.
Although fitness participants have always known about stretching after exercise, this portion of most group workouts lasts only about five minutes or less and happens at the very end of class. It’s basically an afterthought.
A new trend in group fitness involves dedicating more time and attention—perhaps even an entire class—to muscle recovery, using foam-rolling, self-massage devices and/or myofascial release. Because these approaches might be somewhat unfamiliar to the average client, classes that offer guidance are becoming increasingly popular, especially among participants with an interest in healthy aging, injury prevention and improved performance.
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