Innovative Equipment and Programming Drive Group X Success

New products and programs helped group exercise move up the top-10 fitness trends chart.

Having moved up four spots on the list of top 10 fitness trends last year, group exercise now sits in the No. 2 slot, surpassed only by high-intensity interval training (HIIT), according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Whether offered in clubs or boutique studios, this popular, constantly evolving workout format addresses virtually every exercise need—cardio, strength, balance, flexibility—while providing the novelty, excitement, and interactivity that foster both usage and a sense of community.

Today, everyone’s pursuing group-X success.

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Unique Group X Classes

“Clubs recognize the value of unique group-X classes that bring something new and different to the table,” says Darren Jacobson, the senior vice president of instructor programming at Zumba. He points, by way of example, to STRONG by Zumba, a high-intensity cardio, strength, and plyometric offering that’s synchronized to custom music.

Introduced last year, it’s now delivering fun and results to members worldwide, in clubs such as 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and Celebrity Fitness.

As rowing has reemerged as a popular exercise option, clubs and manufacturers have capitalized on the opportunity with fresh equipment and classes. Total Gym markets the Row Trainer, which utilizes bodyweight for resistance, facilitating cardio and strength training, and a full complement of programs.

“Our job is to come up with really cool, functional equipment that provides an unbelievable workout experience,” says Jesse Campanaro, the CEO of Total Gym.

Innovative Group X Equipment

Merrithew—a brand that encompasses STOTT Pilates, Total Barre, CORE, Halo Training, and ZEN•GA—continues to innovate. Recently, it’s been conducting educational workshops that incorporate its new Halo Trainer Plus and Twist Ball.

“Our programming incorporates total-body conditioning, HIIT, and neuromyofascial dynamics,” says Stefania Michas, a master trainer and the company’s senior program director of education. “It complements existing programs in clubs, allowing them to layer and diversify what they’re doing.”

New to group-X programming is Airex AG, which manufactures fitness mats and balance pads. The recently launched Airex Academy offers a variety of classes, including, among others, X-Balance Yoga, X-Balance Pilates, and X-Balance Functional Fitness.

“We’re striving, with our products and programming, to provide our clients with an all-in-one solution that allows them to easily introduce and offer high-quality exercise programs,” says Gina Tagliaferri, the firm’s manager of marketing communication.

Products and programming matter, of course, but the real power of group-X lies in the experience it provides.

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This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.