Given the popularity of emerging fitness programs such as CrossFit, suspension training and kettlebell workouts, gym goers are seeking out facilities and trainers who provide these services. Producing tangible results while creating an exciting exercise environment, these types of programs deliver the outcomes many fitness seekers crave. Although some members gravitate toward intense workouts, others are turned off by the hardcore connotation that accompanies this type of training.

To provide effective and innovative training programs for members of all experience and ability levels, take the edge off of intimidating fitness classes by doing the following:

Engage your members. Create a conversation and build relationships with your members. Provide them with a forum where they are free to share their goals, questions and concerns about fitness in general or specific classes. Doing so will help you determine the types of classes to offer, how they should be structured and the methods that will be used for marketing.

Offer free demonstration classes. These classes should be both informal and informative. Invite current and new members to attend a class demonstration where the instructor is on hand to explain the program, equipment and what to expect. Create a level of comfort among members, instructors and the equipment to encourage participation by easing exercise-related anxiety.

Provide options. Include beginners’ classes in your program mix. Those classes should address exercise basics and lead into a series of classes that become progressively more difficult. Make sure to point out in the demonstration classes that you offer these options.

When people start CrossFit classes, they typically must complete an on-ramp or fundamentals class before entering regular classes. In those fundamental classes, participants learn basic exercise form, terminology and become familiar with the equipment. They must demonstrate proficiency before advancing to the regular class. The same tactic can be used for kettlebell or suspension training classes. Doing so creates a foundation of fitness techniques and familiarity before participants are turned loose in the group exercise setting.

Train your trainers. Your members might not be the only ones in need of guidance when the decision to launch a new fitness program is made. Take the proper steps to ensure that the trainers and staff are prepared for the launch and instruction that will follow.

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Begin by identifying an instructor or group of instructors who can be relied upon to play a leadership role in the development of schedules and programming. In some instances, instructors will need to complete additional training prior to working with a class or client. For example, to become a CrossFit instructor, a trainer must attend a Level I certification and pass the accompanying exam. Furthermore, any facility owner who desires to offer CrossFit classes must become an affiliate and pay a licensing fee to use this trademark. Consider these logistics ahead of advertising or beginning training sessions.

Although some members of the training staff might have personal experience with TRX-style suspension training and kettlebells, they should attend a specialty certification or workshop prior to entering the group exercise or personal training setting. Trainers must be focused on the needs, goals and ability level of each individual. High-intensity workouts with non-traditional equipment can be dangerous if members use improper form or progress too quickly. At times, trainers may find it difficult to slow their pace or back off during a workout. However, the ability of trainers to modify exercises and scale workloads is essential to integrating hardcore programming into the recreation fitness setting.

When properly integrated, the decision to include innovative fitness programming and nontraditional equipment into your group fitness schedule and facility can pay huge dividends. Prevent setbacks and ensure success by using this guide to reduce intimidation and angst. Market to the masses, build relationships and train your training staff to place the needs of the individual ahead of the program. A willingness to do so will result in returns on your time and financial investments, including increased member satisfaction, retention and the creation of additional revenue streams.

BIO

Joe Vennare is the co-founder of Hybrid Athlete and co-creator of Race Day Domination, a training manual designed to prepare competitors for success in any obstacle course race. Vennare can be reached at joe@hybridathlete.org.