Feature Article - March 2009
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Shaping Up

Staying on Top of Fitness Trends

By Dawn Klingensmith

Shake It Up, Baby

Willis of Lindenhurst Health & Fitness Club said he thinks Kranking is here to stay. Other group formats he thinks will endure are dance-based classes, particularly Zumba, a trademarked cardio workout set to Latin rhythms; circuit training and boot camps; and water-aerobics classes geared to all ages.

"The trend today in the water world is taking land group class formats and applying them to the water, such as H2O Yoga and Aquatic Boot Camp," he said.

Mixed martial arts classes also remain popular.

Then there are classes that take fitness innovation to new heights—and in the case of one fad, that's the literal truth. Hundt predicts that AntiGravity Yoga, currently the rage in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, will soon catch on from coast to coast. Advanced inverted poses are performed in hammocks suspended from the ceiling, which is said to allow for deeper stretching and increased flexibility while creating a flying sensation.

However, "I have my doubts that this trend will last," she said, "but it's a rather stylish new way to deepen your yoga practice."

Crunch offers AntiGravity Yoga in its clubs in three—soon to be four—major metropolitan areas. If Hundt is correct and the trend dies down, according to the Crunch model of doing business, it will have been worth it to introduce an exciting and unique fitness technique to its membership. The Crunch philosophy holds that just because trends come and go (that's their nature by definition) doesn't mean clubs shouldn't leverage them while they last.

"It is very important to freshen group exercise classes, especially making them more exciting, interesting or off-the-wall, because one of the most common complaints or challenges in a person being consistent in their workouts long-term is that they get bored," said Crunch's Santa Maria.

Not only does an ever-changing mix of unusual classes stave off boredom, but it also helps people meet their fitness goals and rise above plateaus. Once the body adapts to a particular exercise routine, the results begin to diminish. Changing things up challenges the cardiovascular and muscular systems in new ways, ensuring continued results, Santa Maria said.

The model works for Crunch because the club knows its clientele, but it's not one-size-fits-all.

"Crunch definitely caters to younger, experienced, already-fit people," said fitness facility consultant Sandy Coffman, president, Programming for Profit, Bradenton, Fla. "Its success is to be applauded, but I believe there is a larger, more realistic world that may need to take another approach."

Even among people who work out regularly, the percentage who are always on the lookout for the latest fitness craze is small, said Lloyd Gainsboro, vice president and director of business development, Dedham Health & Athletic Complex, Dedham, Mass.