The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support

Search IHRSA Blog

Welcome to the IHRSA Blog

The Online Home of news.

Blog Home |  Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Entries in Marisa Hoff (6)


Stevenson Fitness’ Small Group Cycling Goes Head-to-Head with Boutiques

When Stevenson Fitness first began offering small group training a few years back, it was an emerging trend. Throughout the industry, clubs were promoting small group classes in order to supplement one-on-one personal training sessions, and Stevenson Fitness leadership saw an opportunity. 

Continue reading "Stevenson Fitness’ Small Group Cycling Goes Head-to-Head with Boutiques."

Click to read more ...


Growing Your Gym’s Group Exercise Program

The following post was written Marisa Hoff, general manager of Stevenson Fitness, for our Best Practices series.

Question: We’d like to grow our group exercise program. Any thoughts on how we should go about doing that?

That’s a good question, as some larger clubs with many group exercise formats are having a hard time competing with the growing number of studios.

Continue reading "Growing Your Gym’s Group Exercise Program."

Click to read more ...


5 Ways to Step Up Your Gym's Group Exercise Game

Group exercise, or "group X," has become a staple at boutique studios. You can avoid losing market share—or even make gains—by reviewing your health club's group exercise program and making these five simple adjustments. 

1. Ask your members what they want. Frequent surveys are the best way to keep tabs on your members' needs.

"What owners think members want and like isn't necessarily the case," Marisa Hoff, general manager for Stevenson Fitness in Oak Park, CA, said in a recent IHRSA blog post. "You have to continue to survey; that will allow you to keep your programming fresh and cater to the needs of the members."

Continue reading "5 Ways to Step Up Your Gym's Group Exercise Game."

Click to read more ...


Train Your Group X Staff to Create a Boutique Studio Experience 

This post is part of our Session Spotlight series, previewing just some of the extensive education that will feature at IHRSA 2017, March 8-11 in Los Angeles.   

Ask any boutique studio member what they like about the experience and they’ll likely tell you the same reasons: the classes feel personalized, instructors foster a sense of community, and the workouts deliver results. 

And it doesn’t hurt that they’re trendy. 

Improving Group X Experience Will Boost Retention 

“There are a lot of different aspects to boutique studios’ popularity, but I think the first and foremost is they provide a real social [and] community aspect to the experience, and people are really looking for that these days,” says Marisa Hoff, general manager for Stevenson Fitness in Oak Park, CA. “We’re not a big-box club, but I’d imagine the bigger gyms have a hard time providing that personal experience. When people seek out Soul Cycle and Orangetheory, they’re in a place that feels like home and it’s really appealing to a lot of people.” 

Continue reading "Train Your Group X Staff to Create a Boutique Studio Experience."

Click to read more ...


Skilled Instructors are Integral to Running a Successful Group Exercise Program

Are you maximizing the ROI on your group exercise classes?

Research by IHRSA and others documents how important group-ex is to members and, in turn, to member satisfaction. According to IHRSA, a remarkable 90% of all exercisers prefer to work out in groups rather than on their own. And The Retention People (TRP), a Woodbury, New York–based provider of customer experience management (CEM) software and services, reports that group offerings reduce the risk of cancellation by 26%—possibly because the people who take part in classes visit the club more frequently than those who are equipment-centric.

Think an impressive array of new, well-maintained, high-tech cardio and strength machines is the key to success?

Well, you might want to think again.

If there’s one word that sums up the power of group-ex, it might well be engagement.

Classes, whether small or large, low- or high- impact, relaxed or high-intensity, produce an ambience marked by camaraderie, cooperation, encouragement, and friendly competition, creating a strong sense of community.

Instructors Are the Essence of a Group Program

Although many group-ex programs may look the same or share the same name, in reality, the instructor defines each class, shaping it in their own image. Even pre-choreographed sessions, such as those offered by Les Mills, vary somewhat, depending on the leader’s personality and style.

“Instructors are the essence of a group program,” said Aida Johnson-Rapp, the group-ex director at the premium East Bank Club in Chicago, which stages 216 classes a week. “They have to have the qualities of a performer; the skills and knowledge to deliver safe, effective classes that members enjoy; and the ability to produce results.”

No matter how trendy your classes are, your success rests,
ultimately, on the shoulders of certified professionals who are enthusiastic about service and helping others enjoy exercise.

“The instructors are the heartbeat, the air, the sunshine—basically, the life—of the program,” said Dori Nugent, the group-ex director at Club La Maison, in Wayne, PA. “Instructors who can create magic in the studio—they’re priceless.”

Continue reading "Skilled Instructors Are Integral to Running a Successful Group Exercise Program."

Click to read more ...


Top 3 Strategies to Improve Your Health Club’s Group Exercise Experience

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for health clubs from the increasing prevalence of boutique fitness studios is that the market is hungry for personalized group exercise experiences. 

Unfortunately, the group X program is frequently an overlooked aspect of running a successful fitness facility. But, when managed properly it can increase revenue, referrals, and member retention, making it a key element to the club’s overall success. 

Marisa Hoff, general manager for Stevenson Fitness in Oak Park, CA, will teach health club owners and operators strategies to make the most out of their group X program in IHRSA’s Thursday, July 14 webinar, "Engage & Retain with Innovative Group X Programs." 

Here are Hoff’s top three things club owners should do to improve their group X experience. 

1. Provide Ongoing Member Experience Training for Staff 

Of course, all great group X programs are contingent on hiring great staff—but the work doesn’t stop there. 

“You need to continue to work with them to ensure they’re doing everything they can to create a memorable experience in the classroom,” Hoff says. “During the webinar, I’ll offer lots of tips and tools owners can use to train their staff to do so.” 

2. Make Each Group X Format a Unique Experience 

Many of your club’s group X classes may take place in the same room, but that doesn’t mean they should look or feel the same. Differentiating between classes in this way helps to create a sense of community among members, which the club can foster using social media groups. 

“At Stevenson Fitness, we try to create communities in each format, and one way to do that is to create smaller social media groups” Hoff says. “We also make each format its own special experience; for Zoomba we dim the lights, boot camp is about the grid. We use lighting and different techniques, like candles, to make each format feel totally different from the next so it’s not just one big empty classroom.” 

3. Listen to What Your Members Are Telling You 

“Always listen to your members and engage with them to get their opinion and feedback on a regular basis,” she says. “What owners think members want and like isn’t necessarily the case—you have to continue to survey; that will allow you to keep your programming fresh and cater to the needs of the members.” 

Hoff’s webinar will go in-depth on each of these elements and more. The webinar’s learning objectives include: 

  • Identify the key factors to look for when hiring and interviewing potential instructors.
  • Explore the importance of the group exercise manager's role and the primary responsibilities for that position.
  • Gain insight into how to best design a studio or classroom.
  • Discover important elements for schedule design and balance.
  • Obtain tips on how to design systems in order to maximize the role of the instructor in increasing member engagement.  

“Attendees will leave with some very tangible practices for what to do from hiring to making sure you’re doing ongoing training with your staff,” she says. “I’ll also share actionable strategies that we use at Stevenson Fitness to create a memorable class experience with group X and make sure we keep our programming fresh and innovative. People will come away with tangible strategies they can implement right away—they’re not expensive and the're easy to implement.”

New Call-to-action