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AFS's executive panel believes a variety of high-energy group training programming will be the top driver of studio growth this year.

Small Group Training, Technology Top AFS's 2018 Studio Trends Report

AFS's executive panel expects in 2018 small group training will remain a "cash cow" with retention power, while apps, virtual reality and new marketing concepts will continue to drive overall studio growth.

After ranking No. 10 on the Association of Fitness Studios' (AFS) Top Fitness Studio Trends report in 2017, small group training has topped the association's same report for 2018.

Last year, AFS's executive panel called small group training a "leading cash cow" that provides "the ideal customer experience for acquisition and retention." This year, the panel—comprised of an advisory council, vendor partners and various studio operators—said to expect studios to push a "variety of new and hybrid classes to maintain high interest and energy levels" among current and prospective members.

"There are a few eyebrow-raising trends that people in the trenches are seeing,” AFS founder and CEO Josh Leve said of the report in a Jan. 3 media release. “Of course, you never know exactly how things are going to develop, but those in the fitness business need to be aware of what industry leaders see over the horizon.”

The report highlights 12 trends, the top six of which are as follows:

1. Small Group Training
2. Technology
3. Continued Studio Growth
4. Here Come the Big Boxes
5. Multiple Memberships
6. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

In regard to technology, the panel said to expect more "wearables, apps, data, and other workout-specific applications along with the virtual world of remote classes, scheduling and marketing concepts." On the topic of continued studio growth, they cited in-house research that suggests 27 percent of all fitness professionals are contemplating opening their own studio concept.

In November 2017, AFS also released its 2017 Fitness Studio Operating & Financial Benchmarking Report. For studio operators, the report emphasized the importance of driving traffic, growing a client base and hiring the right staff.

For Club Industry's latest Precor-sponsored webinar on group training—and tips for creating a "club within a club"—click here.

To view the full AFS trends report, click here.

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