SAN DIEGO – Personal training, mind-body fusion and outdoor activities continue to be popular offerings at health clubs while stability balls, resistance bands and balance boards are the most frequently offered equipment, according to the 12th annual IDEA Fitness Programs and Equipment Survey. The survey of 225 IDEA members, who consist of health club owners, fitness center managers and/or exercise program directors, measures the latest trends in programming and equipment offerings.

One-on-one personal training continues to be the most offered program with 80 percent of those surveyed offering it at their clubs. Seventy-one percent offer training sessions shared by two clients. In addition, clubs are more often taking their training outdoors. Since 2004, the number of respondents offering outdoor personal training sessions has risen from 26 percent to 60 percent while outdoor boot camps are now offered by 30 percent of the surveyed facilities compared to 16 percent in 2004.

Co-founder and executive director of IDEA Health & Fitness Association, Kathie Davis, says she sees the trend of more simplicity among fitness enthusiasts.

“The latest IDEA program and equipment survey reveals there is an important evolution underway in the fitness industry,” Davis says. “Our members have told us there is new importance placed on simplicity for gaining strength. Using smaller equipment and participating in outdoor activities such as boot camps–as well as the undeniable growth of mind-body classes–proves it does not require large, expensive tools to help people get and stay fit.”

Pilates and yoga combined rose 38 percent and continue to have a strong showing in the industry. Mind-body fusion classes are offered at 27 percent of the surveyed facilities. Fusion classes rank first among mind-body programs expected to grow. The fastest growing form of group exercise is dance-based classes, increasing 11 percent in 2006.

As for exercise equipment, stability balls and resistance tubing or bands came out on top with 85 percent of clubs offering this type of equipment. Treadmills, offered by 65 percent of those surveyed, were the most offered type of large equipment, followed by elliptical trainers and recumbent bikes, both of which are offered by 60 percent of respondents.

Although only 5 percent of companies offer interactive computer training programs, this area is expected to have the second-highest growth potential, with 73 percent of respondents saying it will grow, the survey says. Another category expected to grow is balance equipment. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed say it has the potential to grow, even though 79 percent say they already offer this equipment.

Davis also says the survey shows that many industry professionals are trying to come up with new ways to draw in people of all athletic types.

“It’s clear from this year’s survey that fitness center owners, health club managers and program directors are leveraging advancements in exercise coupled with highly creative approaches to create new fitness opportunities for consumers, regardless of age or physical condition,” Davis says.