Are Group Training Classes Like Pure Barre Hurting Commercial Gyms?

When I say “commercial gym,” I’m talking about the gyms where you walk in and find treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, dumbbells, barbells, and strength training machines. Don’t get me wrong, my passion for fitness was discovered in a commercial gym, and I still spend plenty of my time at commercial gyms. However, you’d think that with the obesity epidemic, these facilities would have increasing numbers in both membership and personal training sessions. So where is everyone going? Could it be group training?

Seven or eight years ago, I attended a strength and conditioning conference in Chicago. One of the leaders in the fitness training fields is Alwyn Cosgrove. Alwyn explained that small group and/or group training classes were going to be the future of the business. The reason is simple; buying a personal training package for a small group (3-6 people) would be cheaper than one on one training. On the other hand, the trainer gets paid MORE. Win win. This type of training is still very popular and most personal training managers will preach this option to their trainers because it is fantastic for member retention, keeps the members involved and committed, and it generates revenue quickly so the club can hit their monthly sales goals.

So where is everyone else going? The boxing gym, to Crossfit gyms, to pure barre classes, to suspension training studios (TRX, rings, etc). The group training buzz has led to the special niche gyms explosion! Have you been to Peter Welch’s Boxing Gym in Southie during peek hours (5am, 6am, noon, 6, 7pm)? It is crazy there with tons of people getting terrific workouts! No, you don’t need to be a competitive fighter to work out there, although it is ALSO the place to be if you do want to be a fighter. Maybe this is why they are so popular. You may take a class with an ex pro boxer, or a current Golden Gloves champion and you’re doing the same workout! It is authentic!

Crossfit gyms are popping up everywhere you look. It truly has turned fitness into a sport. Strength and conditioning coaches all over the country are anti-Crossfit, due to the lack in exercise science principles and protocols. But, it’s a sport, and if you’re good at it, you’re most likely jacked! So, seems like it is something we should all become good at. My background is in exercise science, and I do cringe at some of the Crossfit videos I see on Youtube, but I will admit that I am impressed with real “Crossfitters.”

I guess my point is that commercial gyms are not failing, but the issue is most (most is a generous word here) people have NO clue what to do at the gym, and a trainer is a huge luxury that a small part of the population can afford. Therefore, a niche gym that “tells you what to do” as part of the membership, is a win win for everyone. Bottom line, choose something, and stick to it!