If you’re looking for inspiration to freshen up your gym’s fitness programming schedule, you’re in the right place. Here are nine new workouts that are keeping members coming back for more.
This article appeared in the print edition of Club Business International in December 2018.
9 New Takes on Fitness Programming
The innovative fitness programming ideas keep coming with new concepts that incorporate aerial fitness, electrical muscle stimulation, aquatic Barre, and more.
Flying Fantastic is a stunning, breath-stopping, exercise extravaganza that’s offered at four venues in London.
The program, co-created by Edel Wigan, consists of aerial-fitness and circus-skill classes conducted with equipment such as trapezes, hoops, silks, and, most recently, bungee cords. These high-flying outings increase flexibility, body awareness, and core and functional strength via a series of gravity-defying feats.
“It’s a full total-body workout, but you’ll notice the benefits on your arms and abs first,” Wigan says. “But, when you’re upside down, you’re so busy trying to get all of your limbs in the right place, you don’t have time to think about how hard you’re working.”
You’ll notice it the next day, though, she laughs.
“You also learn something new every week, which is addictive,” she continues. “And, the more tricks you string together—the harder you work, and the stronger you get. Not to mention the adrenaline rushes!”
Impulse Body Fitness: A Truly Electrifying Idea
Sebastian Santos is the co-founder of IMPULSE, a Miami-based club that offers a series of one-on-one and group training workouts that employ EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) suits.
The body-hugging suits contain 20 dry-electrode pads, controlled by an operating tablet, that cover eight different muscle groups, which encompass 80% of the user’s body. The pads generate electrical impulses that trigger both isometric and isotonic contractions in the muscles, promoting growth and providing other benefits. IMPULSE-certified instructors customize impulse intensity for each workout, based on the participant’s fitness level, skills, and goals.
The system can accommodate up to 24 clients simultaneously.
Santos estimates that one of his 25-minute workouts is the equivalent of up to two hours of traditional training, and, over a 48-hour period, can produce a 2,000-calorie burn.
“My aim is to create and sustain a cutting-edge, urban-lifestyle fitness concept that’s time-saving, effective, and individualized.”
LIT LA: It Builds You, Not Breaks You
Given the remarkable popularity of HIIT, it was probably inevitable—now there’s low-impact, high-intensity training, or LIT. Founders Justin Norris and Taylor Gainer describe their series of on-demand, streaming workouts as ones that are designed to “build you—not break you.”
Because other regimens can sometimes do the latter, the Los Angeles–based partners set out to devise a sustainable model that empowers and strengthens people, and also corrects their mistakes. The result is the LIT Method, a group of more than 50 videos that, they say, can serve as the foundation for lifelong fitness.
The program strengthens and sculpts the muscles, and minimizes the impact on bones and joints. The LIT Method is designed to target and isolate each muscle group, while, at the same time, producing the ultimate cardio burn.
The two trainers craft each workout program carefully to avoid injuries and correct muscle imbalances, using simple equipment from their LIT KIT, which includes a bootie band, foam roller, resistance band, and lacrosse ball. The company sells the kits online, with a choice of one-, three-, six-, or 12-month memberships, and customers can personalize their own video playlists from the LIT library.
Norris and Gainer also operate a studio, the LIT Method, in Los Angeles.
“I’d say about 95% of our clients are suffering from some kind of injury,” Norris told Well + Good. Many of them, he observes, were caused by too many hardcore fitness classes.
Slide into Fitness With 3ACT Slide
Slide classes were extremely popular in the ’80s and ’90s, and, now, for the 21st century, there’s 3ACT Slide.
This program, co-created by Christy Abel, has participants gliding 360 degrees around a six-foot, self-contained, portable platform to obtain an exciting and satisfying strength, cardio, functional, and flexibility workout.
The reason for the constant circling? “Because,” the 3ACT Slide motto explains, “life is not a straight line.”
“As a former athletic trainer and physical therapist, my business partner and I knew there had to be a better way to exercise safely and effectively, while having fun,” Abel says.
The workout employs constant ground contact to increase muscular demand on a slippery surface, and integrates forward and backward, side- to-side, and long and short strides to provide a fun fitness experience. Guided by stability blocks, the sliders coast into different cardio zones around the platform, which folds for easy storage. There are a variety of class formats to address members’ different needs—e.g., strength training, weight loss, sports performance, aging more gracefully, or just feeling better.
“There’s no point to doing slide exercises if your muscles aren’t working,” Abel says. “With 3ACT Slide, they’re constantly engaged, and experiencing concentric and eccentric contraction to control the motion.”
KOBOX: Smash the Stigma Around Boxing
It’s “Boxing. Just Not as You Know It.” “Where Fight Club Meets Nightclub.”
Those are the two descriptions that deftly describe KOBOX, a unique London club that stages high-intensity, 50-minute classes that teach the fundamentals of boxing in a colorful, clearly theatrical environment.
Gone are the days when all that was required to sample the sport of kings was a pair of padded gloves, speed and body bags, and a ring. At KOBOX, members take part in an expertly designed, highly structured, and incredibly well-equipped program.
There are four basic parts to each session.
There’s a pre-workout warmup, and post-workout stretching, and, in between: THE BAG WORK portion involves working out on aqua (water-filled) bags, for five to ten minutes per round, designed to teach basic boxing combinations. A KOBOX trainer calls out different numbered combinations, which are projected in HD on the studio wall, making them easy to follow.
THE WALL WORK consists of pulling, pushing, squatting, smashing medicine balls, and jumping using landmines, and more work with TRX, sandbags, resistance bands, and other accessories—all of it taking place at individual stations.
“The lights dim, the beat drops, and your inhibitions fall,” the club’s website suggests. “We want to smash the stigmas attached to boxing, and show everyone who’s always wanted to try the workout that they can do it,” says Kris Pace, the owner of KOBOX.
123STACK at THE WALL: A One-of-a-kind Workout
THE WALL, a Los Angeles–based club, is renowned for, among other things, its one-of-a-kind 123-STACK workout, which is designed not just to help members get fit, but also to allow them to push through barriers, overcome limitations, and achieve more than they’d imagined possible.
“The 123STACK workout is about empowering clients to break through their own perceived walls,” says Jason Wimberly, the fitness guru who created THE WALL. His objective, he explains, is to eliminate the mental barriers that keep people from reaching their physical goals.
123STACK begins with 10 minutes of core activation, followed by 20 minutes of high-intensity circuit training, and concludes with 30 minutes of indoor cycling. In the process, the program moves clients through two studio rooms, while keeping them focused on the group’s unity, making it a paradigm of group fitness.
Each class is choreographed rhythmically to promote cohesion, mindfulness, and most importantly, results. Technology is utilized to track performance results.
THE WALL’s other offerings include STR3TCH (45 minutes of stretching); STACKED (circuit, weight, and body weight training); and WIMBERRIDE (45 minutes of group cycling).
MOi Cycling: The Brainchild of Programming Innovators
Lori and Jeremy Lowell, the owners of Gold’s Gyms in Virginia, are inveterate exercise innovators, and one of the programs they’re well best known for is the MOi Cycle method, which faithfully replicates the experience of riding outdoors.
The acronym stands for “Measure, Observe, Improve,” but also honors Moi Wertz, a bike trainer in Aspen, CO, who helped develop the program.
“When we moved to Aspen, I was catapulted into outdoor fitness,” Lori Lowell says.
When she started biking at higher altitudes, she met Wertz, and began training with her. It wasn’t long before Lowell recognized the potential for the club industry.
“How cool would it be to create real rides that mirrored what Moi was doing outdoors, with music that corresponded with the rider’s RPM,” Lowell wondered.
The possibilities prompted her to partner with Wertz and Asaf Goldfrid, an actor and innovative cyclist, to develop MOi Cycle, a chart-driven ride.
“Moi rides outdoors, and creates charts—both for type of ride and heart rate—based on her intensity zones,” says Lowell. She and her team then orchestrate the musical journey for each 22-song ride.
MOi coaches set the target heart-rate zone for students, which is 75% to 92% of their maximum. The riders try to stay in that range throughout the INTERVALS, ENDURANCE, STRENGTH, BOOST, and RACE DAY portions of their rides.
Over five years, MOi Cycle has amassed more than 320 rides in its system, and adds five new charts per month to keep things fresh.
The Lowells are now training instructors in their method, which has been accredited by both the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).
Coming next from the Lowells: Drishti Beats, a live-music yoga experience.
H2O H.I.T. Is A New Take on Water Workouts
“It’s our secret sauce,” says Richard Earney, the national program director for the Midtown Athletic Clubs in Chicago, about his team’s ongoing efforts to create exciting and effective new offerings.
Most recently, he and one of his colleagues, Amy Chase, have created H2O H.I.T., an innovative program that refuses to recognize the difference between land and water.
“Imagine land-based training and vernacular exercise transported into the pool,” Earney says. “It’s fun, fast-paced, and challenging.” This imaginative group programming features high-energy music with a driving beat, and makes use of ViPR tubes, medicine balls, and Speedo training toys that are used for resistance training in water. The result is a series of high-intensity, low-impact workouts.
“It’s changing the notion of what we do in the pool,” Earney says. Aqua programming has long been reserved for swimmers, or for injured or aging populations in search of a gentler workout.
Now, however, H2O H.I.T. is attracting younger individuals with a tough interval workout that raises the heart rate and burns calories, in a low-impact environment that provides constant resistance.
Today, Midtown views each of its pools as a boutique fitness arena, a space where its coaches can conduct athletic, high-performance programs.
“It’s great to have this kind of energy in our pools,” concludes Earney.
Barre-A-Cuda: Barre, But In a Pool
Industry icon Sara Kooperman, the CEO of SCW Fitness Education, based in Northbrook, IL, has now seized on the popularity of barre training, and created Barre-A-Cuda—the first-ever barre class to be offered in a pool.
The program taps the principles of dance, Pilates, and strength training to lengthen and strengthen the muscles of the arms, legs, and core, and employs the water for resistance and aquatic noodles to provide stability. The accompanying music is typically 135 to 140 BPMs, with a strong downbeat so participants can follow along.
“Barre-A-Cuda calls for small isometric movements and full range-of- motion exercises to tone the muscles of the entire body,” Kooperman says of her ballet-inspired workout.
She predicts that aquatic programming will grow in importance and popularity as the world’s population ages.
“By the year 2030, the fastest-growing segment will be 65-plus. Currently, it’s the 50-plus market that’s expanding by leaps and bounds,” she says. “Due to the impact-reduction in an aquatic environment, more and more programs are being brought into the pool.”
Kooperman introduces instructors to Barre-A-Cuda—and other land-based regimens reprogrammed for the pool—at her many SCWMANIA conventions.