THE GOAL WAS TO MAKE FITNESS FUN AGAIN. IT'S WORKED. PEOPLE ARE REALLY HAVING A GOOD TIME — THEY'RE SMILING; THEY LOVE IT!
When it comes to training one's core, crunches still count; and, for balance, the BOSU Balance Trainer is still hard to beat. Over the years, countless exercises and a wide variety of tools have been devised to deal with core issues and add balance to club workouts, but the innovation is still going strong, and, if anything, seems to be accelerating.
Check out the studios at Equinox, the high-end, trendsetting chain that has more than 40 locations in seven major cities, and you'll find members soaring and spinning—literally—through the air. Take a peek inside the studios at Crunch, the quirky 20-unit club company based in New York City, and you’ll catch clients experimenting with an indoor waterless version of surfing.
And that’s not all: continue your tour of facilities and you'll also discover yoga classes that make use of hammocks, Pilates sessions replete with hula hoops, and, even, workouts conducted on a giant trampoline.
From a functional standpoint, these imaginative approaches are effective, but, more than that, they're also designed to make exercise fun, and, in fact, they succeed. Unique, entertaining, and uninhibited, they pique the interest of prospects and members, tempt them to participate, and, performing as promised, help drive membership sales, club utilization, and member retention OUTSIDE THE BOX WORKOUTS
An excellent example of the creativity that’s recently been brought to bear is Equinox’s new program. Jukari Fit to Fly was developed for Reebok, the international sports products and programs provider, by Cirque du Soleil, the global producer of avant-garde theatrical performances, with a little help from Sara Haley, an Equinox instructor.
“The goal,” she says, “was to make fitness fun again.”
The name, Jukari, was derived from a Sicilian word meaning “to play,” and the program, Haley explains, is a high-flying act that sometimes has members “jumping for joy.” It makes use of the Fly Set, a modified trapeze that can hold up to 2,000 pounds, on which students can swing freely. They also do floor work with foot strap attachments. The 45-minute routine engages the core as people lift themselves and also challenges their balance.
Instructors undergo a rigorous training and evaluation process. “Ideally, they should have a strong dance, yoga, Pilates, or circus background,” suggests Haley, “and it helps if they've worked with core-stability and suspension training.”
Jukari, the first in a series of programs that Cirque du Soleil is developing for Reebok, debuted earlier this year in select clubs stretching from Los Angeles, to New York, to Seoul. “It’s worked,” reports Haley. “People are really have a good time — they're smiling; they love it!”
Having fun also seems to be the raison d'être of Crunch’s choice, Indo Boarding, which, depending on season or preference, can offer, among other things, a surfing, skateboarding, skiing, or snowboarding experience. “A program has to produce results,” says Marc Santa Maria, the regional director of group fitness for Crunch, but it also has to be interesting and fun. That's what sustains students through a 45-minute class.”
The Indo Boarding sessions utilize the Indo Board, an oval-shaped disk that costs approximately $99 each, which sits atop inflatable IndoFlo cushions, providing the uneven movements associated with a variety of outdoor activities. Santa Maria was inspired to create his class by the popularity of extreme sports. “It was about bringing the ocean and the mountains to urban areas,” he explains. “We're giving people experiences that they wouldn't have, otherwise.”
During the summer, members surf to the music of the Beach Boys, and avoid “wiping out” by focusing on balance and using their core. At other times of the year, Santa Maria employs four-pound BOSU fitness balls as beach balls or body bars as ski poles, with appropriate musical accompaniment.
“We’ve got 15 Indo Boards,” notes Santa Maria, “and they always fill up fast.” SUPPLIER SOLUTIONS
As they design equipment and programs, companies, today, are focusing on both effectiveness and entertainment value. “BOSU training is all about results and fun because the skill progressions aren't like traditional exercise, where you count off each and every tedious rep,” points out Douglas Brooks, a programming director for BOSU by Fitness Quest, Inc., of Canton, Ohio. “Instead, they feel more like play and skill development, which keeps the process interesting, gratifying, and fun.”