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How to Compete with the Boutique Studio Trend

This is an associate feature post, sponsored by Iron Grip Barbell Company

If you’re offering group exercise classes at your gym, you already know why the classes appeal to your members. Now more than ever, today’s fitness consumer isn’t just looking for an activity (running, lifting weights, cycling)—they’re looking for an enriching experience. Gym goers expect their workouts to be challenging and motivating, but they're also looking for that feeling of camaraderie and social connection. 

No doubt exercising in a group setting can offer the right combination of communal support and group accountability that keeps a certain type of member engaged. But if you’re not already offering a program that focuses specifically on strength training in a group format, you could be missing a huge opportunity to connect with these members, and open up a more compelling path to retention. 

Here are the top reasons why your club needs group strength training on the schedule: 

Strength training is (still) wildly popular. According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2016 worldwide survey, strength training still holds as the fourth most popular fitness trend among consumers. The editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® call it an “essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders.” 

What other activity appeals to such a wide cross-section of your overall membership? So many women are encouraged by the evidence that weight bearing exercise can increase energy levels, help burn fat faster, and ward off osteoporosis that they are embracing a “strong is the new skinny” mindset. But many members want the benefits of strength training as well as the feel of community that only a group setting can provide. 

Group strength training classes are the perfect complement to other group activities. Your members may crave their weekly dose of Zumba-fueled booty-shaking, or rely on a sanity-restoring savasana at the end of a hectic workday, but the most energizing cardio or relaxing stretching can get boring fast if you don’t provide options to mix up those routines. Not only do members need and demand variety to keep them motivated, but for the best results, a balanced fitness lifestyle incorporates strength training. 

So while the ever-popular yoga practice helps improve flexibility, breathing, and balance, a class that focuses on weight-bearing exercises will fill in the gap to build strength, burn fat, and increase bone density. And while getting your heart pumping is key to cardiovascular stamina, nothing reshapes a body and improves health more completely and effectively than strength training. 

Strength training classes won’t just keep members from losing interest, they’ll keep them in your club. Group exercise in general is a popular retention tool for keeping members engaged and motivated. But consider it also as a stepping stone to taking advantage of all your club has to offer. 

The growing popularity of boutique fitness studios (barre, spinning, yoga) or boot camp-style small group training (including CrossFit) means you need to compete to keep members at your full-service facility. A robust group exercise program offers the social experience members yearn for, but group strength classes in particular provide members with something more—a gateway to feeling comfortable using more areas of your club. 

For members who want to learn to strength train but might be intimidated by the weight room, group strength classes provide a welcoming space where they can familiarize themselves with barbells, weight plates, and basic free weight exercises that will help them see results fast and, importantly, introduce them to the rest of your club. 

That’s why it’s important to offer group strength training equipment that is user-friendly and ergonomic, but that also shares the same heavy-duty look of the equipment in the free weight training area outside the group ex studio. If members become comfortable with free weight training in the group ex studio, then it’s only a matter of time before they graduate to using other areas of the club on their own, which helps drive home the value of your full-service club. 

It may even be a bridge to one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer, or eventually specialized high-performance athletic coaching. And an engaged member—who is seeing results and utilizing all areas of the club—is one you’re more likely to keep. 

Iron Grip Barbell Company is the only commercial free weight provider to offer a complete line of exclusively American-made dumbbells, weight plates, and Olympic bars. They operate their own state-of-the-art factory in Southern California to ensure strict quality control and hands-on customer service. Iron Grip is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial free weights, with 23 years of innovation and expertise in the fitness industry. For more information, visit

Reader Comments (1)

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