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5 Reasons Why Your Club Needs Heart-rate Training

Here’s how to leverage this group X experience for stronger retention and bigger profits.

As a club operator, you’re well aware of what’s popular in fitness programming, but if you had any doubt, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) lays it out in their 2018 survey of worldwide workout trends. Here are the top three:

  1. High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  2. Group X training
  3. Wearables

If you own a health club in 2019, you’re likely already offering some type of group X training or small group training (SGT) options. If not, you’re probably looking for a way to begin offering these wildly successful classes.

According to statistics in the 2018 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, group training is increasing in popularity every year. HIIT activities have grown by 21% in just the past two years, and roughly 27% of health club consumers engaged in small group training in 2017.

In a recent IHRSA webinar, “Engage & Retain with Innovative Group X Programs,” host Marisa Hoff, general manager for Stevenson Fitness in Oak Park, CA, offered up some eye-opening statistics:

  • More than 90% of exercisers prefer to work out in groups;
  • 60% of people cite group X as their primary reason for joining;
  • Group X makes up 70% of long-standing members;
  • The risk of cancelling was 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.

You only have to look at recent industry success stories to understand why it’s good business to offer group-X and SGT programs. Boutique studios, which specialize in the group concept, experienced a 121% increase in membership growth over the last five years, according to the 2018 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. And in August, IHRSA reported that Orangetheory had opened their 1,000th studio club, proving that the explosive growth of the company wasn’t slowing down.

Focusing on heart-rate training (HRT), Orangetheory’s programs actually combine the top three rankings in the ACSM’s survey noted above: HIIT, group training, and wearables. If there’s a sweet spot in group training, it’s likely the group HRT concept.

Five Reasons Group HR Training Can Work for You

Heart-rate zones have long been a useful training tool for personal trainers, but in the past many health club members didn’t understand the concept or weren’t comfortable with wearable technology. Those attitudes have changed dramatically.

The proof is in the popularity of these programs that have flourished in boutique studios. The good news is that no matter what kind of club you operate, you can bring some of the advantages of boutique studios to your members with group HRT.

Here are five reasons why group HR training can enhance your brand and improve your bottom line.

1. Group HRT and HIIT are what younger demographics want.

If you want to recruit and retain younger members, group training is where it’s at. According to the IHRSA Fitness Training Report, 45.8% of Generation Z consumers used SGT in 2016, the highest of any age group. Non-member Millennials utilized SGT more frequently than any other age group, and HIIT training was ranked the No. 2 activity choice among Millennials (runner-up to yoga).

2. Group HRT promotes a social atmosphere.

The community aspect of this group concept creates a strong dynamic that increases engagement and retention. The display monitors that provide instant heart-rate feedback makes the activity fun and competitive, bringing a gamification aspect to classes. This bonding experience projects to your club brand, further strengthening retention.

3. Group HRT can increase non-dues revenue streams.

Besides class fees that you can structure as packages or standalone sales, group HRT programs allow for more “touch points” and ways to engage with members. You’ll be able to market other products and services, along with offering heart rate devices for class members.

4. Group HRT delivers measurable results.

HR group training also allows for personalization, even within the group concept, which helps members chart their progress. This keeps members motivated and accountable. Also, trainers can calibrate group HRT across a spectrum of subcategories, from classes for seniors to bootcamp-style workouts. Group HRT also serves the growing demand for performance training.

5. Group HRT helps you collect valuable member data.

If you choose the right partners, the software will be able to connect with your members even when they’re not in your club. You’ll be able to aggregate valuable consumer data while maintaining engagement with members beyond gym walls.

Having a thriving HR group training experience at your club enhances your brand and creates excitement that radiates beyond the class itself. But you want to make sure you have the best hardware and software for the long haul.

Launching a Winning HR Group Training Experience

For more than 40 years, Polar has been an industry leader in heart rate technology, long before the word “wearables” entered our vernacular. Now they’ve developed a plug-and-play HR group training experience that delivers all the advantages we listed above. Called Polar Club, this all-in-one health club solution offers a range of heart-rate devices powered by a software system that makes it easy to create a successful results-driven program.

The Polar name comes with decades of research behind delivering the most accurate and reliable measurements possible. Polar Club relies on technology using Polar OH1, an optical heart sensor that utilizes a chest strap or a wearable for the wrist or arm. The built-in memory provides real-time personalized data that keeps information accessible and up-to-date, and Polar products are well-known for their comfort, which helps compliance in high-intensity sessions.

Polar Club app software is intuitive and easy to use, and with Polar Open AccessLink API you can create a direct information-sharing link between the Polar ecosystem and your organization’s own data system. The durability of Polar products and simplicity of use make Polar Club a great option for those who want to begin offering these popular classes or add another programming option to their club’s schedule.

Learn more about Polar Club and other related products.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org