Help your guests become healthier (and happier) by offering a good mix of group exercise classes.
How are your workouts working out? Are your classes full these days, or are you chalking up diminishing attendance to your guests’ busy schedules? If it’s the latter, it may be time to shake up some old routines.
Take, for instance, something as basic as your class length. Maria Spearman, the Fitness Coordinator of Cypresswood Golf & Country Club in Winter Haven, Fla., has seen a sea change in the approach to structured exercise programs over the last two decades.
SUMMING IT UP
• Consider fitness as a lifestyle, not just a series of classes. Offer pointers to guests to help them implement smart choices when not in your facility.• Encourage socialization; for example, market your restaurant’s healthy food options as an ideal way to top off a successful workout.
• Make sure your program schedule is properly balanced to meet the needs of older adults (who might want stretching and mind-wellness types of exercise) as well as younger members (who might want more challenging workouts and/or family-friendly offerings).
“Twenty years ago, we as an industry were pushing 90-minute step classes,” she recalls. “There were so many knee injuries as a result! These days, we tend to offer a more realistic, 60-minute fusion workout.”
Spearman describes fusion as “a little bit of everything”—including warm-up, cardio, training and relaxation.
Mandy Benderman, Membership Director of the Porters Neck Country Club in Wilmington, N.C., notes that many members are now joining specifically for the fitness activities available to them.
“It’s a lifestyle,” she explains, “and having so many classes gives them confidence to try new things. There’s a ‘safety in numbers’ mentality for everything from water aerobics to Pilates.”
Deep-water aerobics classes have been well-received by members old and young alike, Benderman says, as have the Zumba offerings. She theorizes that members who are avid golfers and tennis players are turning to the fitness offerings to improve their respective games.
Spearman agrees that’s the case for Cypresswood, too. “Many members want to develop a better golf swing and bring more stability to their lower back,” she says. “Pilates and yoga are popular with both men and women, because it teaches them how to stretch properly. And even with children’s tennis classes, I sometimes stop by to show them how to stretch before their lessons.”
|Cypresswood Golf & Country Club ‘s Aqua Fitness classes|
Change of Scenery
Maggy Dunphy, Director of Spa and Wellness at Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vt., finds that guests are still interested in traditional classes like yoga, spinning and body sculpting—but they now want to take them outdoors.
“We offer fireside yoga, poolside spinning and ‘Boot Camp on the Mountain,’ ” she offers as examples. “Integrating functional training with the traditional seems to be a trend that is here to stay.”
Stowe Mountain Lodge highlights the body-mind-spirit concept in its marketing efforts. Programs like the “Wellness Weekend” incorporate outdoor activities such as snowshoeing and hiking—along with follow-up nutritional counseling and other information after the guest returns home.
“We work on the notion that integrating all of our services—indoor, outdoor, pampering, therapeutic—should all be a part of the guest experience,” says Dunphy. “It is our responsibility to educate and teach each and every one of our guests, with the hope that they will integrate the experience into their everyday lifestyle.”
|Stowe Mountain Lodge tries to incorporate outdoor views (and often, classes) into its fitness programs.|
At Cypresswood, Spearman notes, members not only want to try old things in new ways, but her older class participants, in particular, are looking for ways to “age with grace.”
“People sincerely want to find peace of mind above everything else,” she says, adding that classes like yoga and tai chi (held both indoors and outdoors) remain popular. “The mind is the most important thing as you strengthen the body.”
Porters Neck is also helping its members stay fit when not at the facility, Benderman notes, through a fitness column in the monthly member newsletter that usually includes healthy recipe ideas and tips for everyday exercise.
“Our trainers are constantly coming up with new ways to keep a focus on fitness,” she continues. “In fact, in October we’re starting a Fitness Challenge. It’s an eight-week program that determines different point ratios for tennis, golf and exercise activities. There are prizes and drawings for participants who reach different point levels.”
It’s important to know what your members are looking to get out of each class, Spearman says. At Cypresswood, for example, morning-class participants tend to skew older and be more social in nature, while the evening classes often have more young professionals looking for a harder workout. Still, she stresses, “It has to be fun for everyone.”
|Pilates is a popular program for members of the Stowe Mountain Lodge Spa & Wellness Center.|
Because they cater only to registered guests and spa members, classes at the Spa & Wellness Center at Stowe Mountain Lodge tend to be small—about four to eight students, says Dunphy. But this gives the instructors added flexibility, she points out: “They’re able to focus on all ability levels, offering modifications when needed and more advanced moves for the higher-level participant.”
From Pools to Ping-Pong
Porters Neck is looking at offering a day-care option for guests who want to work out but have young children, Benderman says. Whether those workout sessions may be individual or in a group setting, the idea of staying healthy for body and soul is growing more popular, she says.
“In this market, there are a lot of professionals who relocate from other areas,” she explains. “They join our club and find that it’s a great way to make new friends, especially in group classes. We find some people are chatting before class and then right afterwards, they head out to our sports center to hang out for a while and get to know one another.”
To further facilitate the social aspect of staying fit, Benderman says, a facility renovation is on the not-too-distant horizon for Porters Neck. Plans call for an infinity pool, an area devoted to children’s activities and, following another popular exercise facility trend, a separate area to play the Nintendo Wii interactive video system.
However, some group activities defy trend and remain as tradition: “We still have a lot of ping-pong players,” Benderman notes with a laugh.
Zumba Zooms to New Heights
If you’re not already offering Zumba classes, chances are you’re getting inquiries about them on a regular basis. Here’s the scoop on what’s making this high-energy form of exercise so irresistible:1. First, a bit of history. According to the Website, Zumba.com, fitness trainer Alberto “Beto” Perez walked in to teach his aerobics class in his native Colombia one day back in the mid-1990s, and realized he had left his music at home. He went back to his car and grabbed some tapes of traditional Latin salsa and merengue music that he had been listening to on the way to work. He improvised some dance step to keep the class going, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive, he soon found requests for more. The concept of “Rumbacize” began to emerge. The program arrived in the U.S. in 1999 via some business partners in Miami, who convinced Perez to rename the program Zumba (which is slang in Colombia for “having fun and moving fast”). By 2002, tapes and trainer certifications were available nationwide.
2. Short attention span? No problem. Zumba combines steps from a variety of dance forms, including merengue, salsa, hip-hop, mambo, rumba, flamenco and even a bit of belly dancing. What trainers particularly love is that Zumba never needs to become formulaic. They can use a routine again and again, or tweak the music and choreography anytime to keep students on their toes. Levels of difficulty can be changed easily—even during the class, if trainers are so inclined.
3. Party with your peers. There’s an unmistakable energy to Zumba classes, with the festive music and showy dancing. The philosophy behind it is to exercise while having fun. Some groups have even been inspired to take their classes public, doing Zumba routines onstage at county fairs and local festivals. Not only do these performances bring attention to a novel way of achieving both cardiovascular exercise and body sculpting, it’s a great marketing tool for your facility (just make sure you bring plenty of sign-up sheets!).