There comes a point when every gym owner or manager must decide on a group class lineup. Some managers take a hands-off approach and let their trainers take over building out class schedules and routines. This works fine as long as you already employ a wide variety of skilled trainers in a bunch of different specialties.
But what if you are just getting started hiring trainers? Or what if you want to broaden the scope of the classes you offer beyond the basic classes your trainers are qualified to provide?
Keep in mind that not all fitness trainers are qualified to teach group classes at all, let alone specialty classes. For example, trainers must attend a training session and pay a fee to CrossFit before they earn the right to host a CrossFit class on their own. Similarly, if your gym employs trainers who focus mostly on heavy weight training and bodybuilding, you might have trouble finding one who is also qualified to step in and teach an official Zumba class.
For these reasons, you will want to know ahead of time which group classes you would like to offer, so you can make sure to hire trainers with that specific specialty.
So, where do you start?
The following is a list of popular (and often lucrative) specialty class ideas. This is very far from an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good idea of the huge variety of classes you could provide in your facility. Once you make a list of classes that would probably work with your gym’s primary demographics, interview a few trainers and look for ones who hold credentials in your chosen specialty areas.
In no particular ranking order, here are several great ideas for group fitness classes:
Whether you find a world-class jiu-jitsu master or a local coach who teaches principles of self-defense, the world of martial arts has something for everyone. As long as your instructor holds the proper credentials to teach his chosen martial art, it really doesn’t matter which art it is. However, you can tailor the choice to your demographic somewhat.
Competitive sports such as Taekwondo appeal to younger people who enjoy sparring and developing a competitive edge for tournaments. Krav Maga, including methods for gentle takedowns, can be intensely helpful for police officers, nurses, and any other professional who comes into contact with dangerous or unruly members of the public from time to time. And basic self-defense classes will often be packed with women who want to stay safe and learn to protect themselves.
Traditional yoga has been a mainstay of gym classes for decades, for very good reasons. It’s relaxing, functional, effective, and enjoyable. You really can’t go wrong offering yoga classes if you have the membership numbers to support filling out a roster.
If you are interested in hopping on the hot yoga trend, consider hiring trainers who can teach both traditional yoga styles and hot yoga to capitalize on the widest areas of interest.
If your gym has a lot of female members, look into hosting Pilates classes. Though many men do appreciate this fitness style, you will likely find that a heavily female membership will fill these classes out first. This may be because Pilates has a reputation for building incredible core strength and flexibility without adding much bulk to the muscles.
Though CrossFit isn’t without controversy, the explosion in popularity in recent years means that CrossFit is in the mainstream now and likely here to stay. If your trainers are willing to attend a weekend training session, and you’re okay with paying the fee to CrossFit to host official classes, this could be an incredibly lucrative opportunity for your gym. This is especially true if you already have many barbells, racks, kettlebells, and other resistance equipment that CrossFit uses regularly.
Intended to whip class attendees into shape in a matter of weeks, boot camp classes are known for their intensity and strict programming. Often, boot camp classes run for a set amount of time before class members graduate and a new cycle begins with fresh signups. As such, these classes frequently focus on fitness results and are hugely popular among people trying to achieve those results in a short time with focused routines and coaching.
Cycling or spinning
Cardio is still king for many gym members! If you notice your cardio section is always full to the brim around busy hours, you should capitalize on that fact by opening up a spinning or cycling class during those times. Qualified trainers can take classes through from beginning to advanced sessions, and each class member can work at his or her own pace when needed.
Another great option for the busiest hours is a weightlifting instruction class for beginners. Trainers focus on teaching proper form and workout programming for resistance training to class members who may never have been exposed to the material before.
If your gym’s barbells and racks seem to always be in use by experienced, athletic users, consider the other people who may be watching, interested in giving weightlifting a try but too intimidated to cut in. Taking introductory classes like these is a great way for beginners to jump into the world of weightlifting in a nonthreatening and supportive environment, surrounded by other newbies.
Zumba is another class that makes cardio fun. Again, it can be heavily dominated by women, so choose classes like these based on your demographics. If you have the female membership to support it, Zumba classes can fill up quickly!
If your gym has already been doing well with other female-dominated classes like Pilates and Zumba, consider offering a Barre class as well. Barre is another great way for members to work on core strength, isometric muscle strength, posture, and flexibility.
Cardio kickboxing appeals to both men and women across a fairly wide age range. If your gym does not seem to skew toward any particular demographic, cardio kickboxing could be a winner for you. Beginners can work at their own paces with coaching focused on developing good form, while advanced students can get an intense, effective workout in the same class.