Behind the Scenes
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"Group training" differs from "group exercise" in that the former often sees the coach deliberately leading the workout and providing "experiential elements" for class attendees—as opposed to passively participating.

Learn How to Create a 'Club Within a Club' with Effective Group Training

A rock-solid group training programming stands on six pillars: vision, program, marketing, people, experience and easy sign-up. Mary Edwards of Cooper Fitness Center and Erica Tillinghast of Precor offer insight on developing these components in Club Industry's latest webinar.

Conceptually, group training is nothing new. What is newer is the urgency for larger commercial health clubs to compete with the fun, high-energy culture that boutique studios have cultivated, in part, through effective group programming.

In Club Industry's latest Precor-sponsored webinar—"Capitalize on the Group Training Opportunity: Learn the Key Components for Developing a Successful In-Club Program"—presenters Mary Edwards, fitness director of Cooper Fitness Center, Dallas, and Erica Tillinghast, global education manager for Precor, outline best practices when it comes to launching (or re-launching) group exercise programming in your club.

Tillinghast started off the webinar by making a distinction between "group exercise" and "group training." In the former, a coach may participate in the workout; in the latter, the coach is deliberately leading the workout and providing "experiential elements" for participants.

Simply put, she said, club members are compelled by guided, tribal experiences, where the direction they are receiving is as crucial as the community component of the workout.

Tillinghast also noted that 31 percent of members tried a group training class last year, versus 12 percent who tried personal training. (Additionally, 37 percent of women were drawn to small group training, whereas only 9 percent were drawn to general group training.) Millennials are driving many of these experiences in health clubs, but they are especially drawn to programming that is personalized and, above all, convenient.

The presenters broke their strategy into six key bullet points. 

1. Vision (What are the building blocks of your club?)
2. Program (Do centrally managed workouts or trainer-created workouts make more sense for your facility?)
3. Marketing (Consider complimentary classes and "less-social" members.)
4. People ("Your program offerings will be an absolute waste of time if you don't have the right people leading these programs," Edwards said of staffing.)
5. Experience (This is an easily overlooked step, Tillinghast warned. Music, lighting, personality, check-in desks and lounges and premium touch points must be scrutinized.)
6. Easy Sign-Up (Remain accountable, transparent and hassle-free.)

For more insight, view the free 62-minute webinar on demand here. To view more on-demand webinars on topics such as technology and retention, visit Club Industry's webinar landing page.

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