Bob and Jolyn Esquerre are business solutions consultants and co-owners of the Esquerre Fitness Group (EFG). EFG is known for training trainers, group exercise instructors and managers. It has challenged the fitness industry to provide exceptional service to members. Recognized as subject-matter-experts in personal training, program development, club branding, management development, customer relationship management and membership retention, Bob and Jolyn’s total focus is to create customized business solutions for their customers.

Group exercise and personal training. Personal training and group exercise. These two programming options make up the foundation of service offerings at fitness facilities. Add the impact of the recession to this mix, and now we have a more pressing need to launch additional cost-effective programming options that are sensitive to the members’ new financial reality, satisfy the programming needs of members, support the on-going financial requirements for clubs and continue to reinforce the value of the club’s brand.

If planned, executed and managed properly, a group training program can potentially generate an increase in gross income, create a higher profit margin, increase income per member and increase the percentage of non-dues revenue. From the educated consumer’s perspective, group training adds a cost-effective programming option into the programming mix that will keep members on track as they continue their journey to success at the facility of their choice.

Mix in Suspension Training
One option in today’s group training environment is suspension training. Suspension training refers to a broad body of unique training movements, coaching cues and program principles. When doing suspension training, either the exerciser’s hands or feet are generally supported by a single anchor point while the opposite end of the body is in contact with the ground.

Initially developed as a military training option (Navy Seals) and subsequently launched as a creative training tool for skilled personal and athletic trainers, suspension training has now been positioned as a dynamic, multi-level, fee-based group training tool for clubs and fitness professionals who want to create a competitive point of difference in their business platforms.

Suspension training can deliver seven physiological responses for individuals of all fitness levels:

  1. Muscular strength
  2. Muscular endurance
  3. Cardiovascular endurance
  4. Joint stability and joint mobility
  5. Flexibility
  6. Power
  7. Core stability

As fitness professionals with more than 30 combined years of exposure to fitness programming options, we view these seven physiological benefits as inviting from an efficiency perspective.

Benefits of Suspension Training Programs
Suspension training programs offer several benefits:

  1. A cost-effective response to the recession
  2. The creation of additional fee-based programming options
  3. Availability of more fitness professionals with new skill sets—the hybrid fitness professional
  4. The creation of a stronger club branding message delivery system (group exercise programs, personal training programs and group training programs)
  5. An increase in gross income to the club
  6. A higher profit margin to the club (i.e. increase in net income)
  7. Lower club member attrition rate
  8. Higher club member retention rate
  9. Higher referral rates from satisfied clients
  10. Higher hourly income for fitness professionals
  11. Increased income per member for the club owner
  12. Strengthening of the club’s brand (i.e. the club’s value proposition)
  13. An increase in percentage of non-dues revenue
  14. A reduction of employee overhead expenses
  15. An increase in synergy of all club programs
  16. Strengthening of the club’s competitive points-of-difference
  17. The reinforcement of the club’s customer relationship program
  18. A reduction in fitness professional turnover

Implementing Suspension Group Training
At this time, just one company in the industry offers a suspension training program for fitness facilities. That company has a nine-step implementation process for focusing group training on suspension training:

  1. Identify someone who will be responsible for launching and managing your group program (coordinator, supervisor or manager).
  2. Identify the club-specific suspension system hardware option.
  3. Develop a business and marketing plan for your suspension program.
  4. Identify the skill sets that your suspension group coaches must have in order to be a coach in your program.
  5. Have all your coach candidates enroll in a suspension training course.
  6. Upon completion of the course, candidates must complete at least 30 days of a hands-on practice program with the suspension training course content.
  7. After completion of the 30-day hands-on practice program, all coach candidates must enroll in the group suspension training course.
  8. Upon completion of the group suspension training course, each candidate must complete 30 days of teaching the program in a live teaching environment. The students in these practice classes should be personal trainers, group exercise instructors and other coach candidates.
  9. After completion of the 30-day practice cycle, the club program coordinator, supervisor or manager will select the candidates who will launch the program.

Club owners who do not follow this implementation pathway actually sub-optimize their ability to achieve the benefits of suspension training at their clubs. In today’s economic environment, group training is a must, and suspension training is a win-win, if you do it right.