By Trever Ackerman, Special AFS Contributor

In the last five years, one in every three deaths in the USA was attributed to Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). The latest statistics have also revealed that 60% of Americans don’t take part in regular physical activity and 25% are not physically active at all. On a positive note, research tells us that statistics like these could be significantly improved if more people simply started exercising on a regular basis.

A Nielsen survey 1 of over 3000 participants of group fitness classes around the world highlighted that more than 85% of class members visit their facility twice a week, specifically to engage in group classes. 43% of members visit their facility 4 times per week for this purpose.

Les Mills believe that group fitness classes help enable your members to fall in love with fitness and want to exercise regularly.  The result of this change in attitude toward exercise - from feeling they have to exercise to wanting to exercise - means they are much less likely to leave your gym if they are participating in these types of activities.

The Powerful Effect of Group Exercise

To find out what impact group fitness has on exercisers, Les Mills conducted a study with Dr. Jinger Gottschall of Penn State University.  At the heart of the research was a desire to draw a conclusion on the effectiveness of group exercise as a programming tool to help on-board members.

A group of 25 sedentary (but otherwise healthy) adults (15 women and 10 men) between the ages of 25-40 completed a 30-week group exercise program. This involved participants undertaking:

  • A 6-week familiarization period (where fitness classes were introduced gradually and time spent exercising increased progressively to reduce injury risks as well as to optimize adhesion to the program)
  • A 12-week block of 6 group fitness classes every week (3 cardiovascular, 2 strength, and 1 flexibility)
  • A 12-week block of 7 group fitness classes per week (4 cardiovascular, 2 strength, and 1 flexibility)

At the end of the program, each study participant showed significant reductions in areas such as body mass, fat mass, and cholesterol.  A gradual introduction to group exercise classes also enabled the participants’ confidence and capability to increase week on week. As a result of this carefully-managed group fitness program, all participants had become regular exercisers.

How you can help your members fall in love with fitness

If gaining and retaining member numbers is important to you, group fitness is an ideal way to engage with and keep your members. As an industry we often focus on those members that want to work out versus those that need some help to fall in love with fitness and become regular exercisers.

To introduce or to improve your group classes, you can: 

  • Ensure that group fitness exercises are offered at your studio and that class content is updated regularly
  • Ensure there is a good variety of group fitness classes covering cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training
  • Be inclusive and support your members by starting slowly. Develop induction plans that allow your members to join a class for 20 minutes, rather than the whole hour for the first few weeks
  • Speak to your members regularly – are there more classes you could be running or ones that aren’t well attended? Find out why this is. Perhaps your instructors need additional training or the timing doesn’t suit enough people

Les Mills delivers a variety of group fitness classes that provide cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training for your members. Fresh class content is provided every three months to motivate and support engagement of both instructors and members which in turn reduces the attrition rate of your members. Our tried and tested group exercise classes deliver real physical results, including supporting the fight against CVD.

Learn more about the tools and resources you need to improve your members’ experiences in their workouts, in the group studio and across the entire facility – all of which contribute to increased member engagement and retention.

It’s time to build a stronger business and motivate your members, or somebody else will. For more information, email or call 844-LES-MILLS.

Trever Ackerman serves as Vice President, Marketing for Les Mills, where he oversees all marketing and communications for the United States. Trever focuses his efforts on connecting marketing and communications with both top and bottom line growth.

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