Mr. Broadhag

Spas, Health & Fitness

10 Top Exercise Trends Affecting Your Hotel Fitness Center

By Kurt A. Broadhag, President, K Allan Consulting

The fitness industry has seen its fair share of exercise trends in terms of fitness equipment and programming. Kettle balls, vibration belts, nautilus machines, racquetball courts, aerobics programs - all trends that have either come and gone or transformed into modern day fitness components. These trends are spawned by advances in technology, new research findings involving heath and exercise, or creative minds trying to develop a new workout program to counteract the boredom of monotonous routines. The end result of this process is either inventions in new equipment or fitness programs, or improvement upon the old.

Top fitness professionals stay abreast on current researches and advances in the field to forecast exercise trends and serve a crucial role in promotion into the general population. Health clubs must also chart these trends but have the additional burden of working within limitations of space and budget to provide their members to access to these trends. This is especially true for hotel fitness centers that, due to certain variables such as limited space and non-staffed facilities, must try to offer these trends to their guests when feasible. Following are ten current exercise trends that can be incorporated into the hotel fitness center..

1. Mind/Body Exercise

Although mind/body exercise has been around for ages it has recently caught on in the US. Current trends in this area include both yoga and pilates. Despite these being popular workout routines they may not be feasible to offer in the hotel fitness center setting. For one, both require an instructor for the untrained individual. Secondly, yoga typically requires a classroom setting or an open outdoor space. Finally, true pilates requires specialized equipment. To get around these limitations and still offer your guests these programs try, 1) locating local instructors and place on-call much like personal trainers for one-on-one sessions, 2) if demand is large enough, dedicating an outdoor space to have daily classes, and 3) offer DVD's that can be played within the fitness center and guests can follow along.

2. Technology/Personal Entertainment

Modern technology has transformed the way people pass time working out. Originally, drop down televisions were used inside fitness centers with the audio broadcasted through the speakers. Eventually wireless systems were invented. Now, the current trend is to equip each piece of cardiovascular equipment with its own television. Also new are the advances in ipod/mp3 player docking stations on cardiovascular equipment. This is especially useful given the new trend of downloadable workout routines onto ipods/mp3 players that people can follow while in the gym.

3. Function Training

Functional training, or exercises that help you perform day-to-day activities through improving strength, balance, and coordination, is one of the hottest trends in strength training. Typically this type of exercise is done with a free range of motion either with the use of cables or other resistance equipment such as resist-a-bands and focuses on core stability and strengthening. This category includes a number of smaller equipment items such as physioballs (or resist-a-balls), Bosu balls, balance boards, etc. Although this category is extremely popular in the health club setting it has its limitations in the hotel fitness center. Functional training is an advanced type of training and is not practical for those untrained and unsupervised. Also, smaller equipment associated with functional training is easy to take from the fitness center. If the facility is staffed or offers personal training this is not a problem. One option to get around the theft issue is to have the small equipment available on a check-out basis fro the front desk.

4. Outdoor Activities

Outdoor activities have been popular for some time, especially in the spa type setting, and continue to be a big trend in exercising. This includes running, hiking, outdoor group activities, sporting activities, all run through the fitness center. Simple yet effective way to promote outdoor activities is to print walking/running maps with different distances around the hotel. Also included in this are group exercise classes such as yoga, and aquatics - anything to get guests outside and in touch with nature.

5. Specialized Cardiovascular Equipment

Gone are the days of the three type of commercial cardiovascular equipment - treadmills, bikes, and climbers. Recently there has been a whole host of new categories of cardiovascular equipment invented including pieces such as ellipticals, hikers, stepmills, seated steppers, upper-body ergometers, versaclimbers, and rowers. For some years now the elliptical machine has gained ground as being one of the most popular types of exercise equipment. More recently the total-body elliptical and hiker have entered the market. These pieces are especially popular with the large baby boomer market that is getting older and does not need the higher impact type of exercise. As a hotel fitness center with limited space it is important to research what piece would work best for your given demographics.

6. Catering to the Baby Boomers

Recently the baby boomer generation has grown into one of the largest market segments in health clubs. Since most in this generation are reaching retirement age we generally consider them to take a moderate approach in terms of exercise. Given the fact that they represent a large portion of your demographics it is important to cater to their needs. Try offering low impact or mind/body classes such as the above mentioned yoga and pilates. Make sure your facility has cardiovascular equipment popular to this group such as the treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent bikes, and specialized pieces such as the seated stepper. Finally, make sure selectorized equipment is easy to use and has lower starting weights.

7. Using Educated/Experienced Fitness Professionals

Although there are a number of certifications for fitness professionals there in no law stating one must be certified. The major downside to club owners is the fact that they can be a major liability risk. Fitness participants, more than ever, are realizing that education is an important trait to look for when hiring personal trainers/instructors. This interest combined with the liability risks associated with non-certified trainers makes hiring qualified trainers a must for any hotel fitness center that staffs trainers. Before hiring paid employees make sure they are certified by one of the major professional organizations such as ACSM, NSCA, or NASM. If you are allowing outside trainers use of your space be sure that, not only are they certified, but they carry their own liability insurance.

8. Express Circuit Workouts

Circuit training has been around for years but it became a big trend with the popularity of the Curves franchise. Now clubs across the country are incorporating an express circuit into their floor space. The express circuit is basically a small circuit of selectorized equipment with cardio that an individual can use and get a full body workout within around 30 minutes. Hotel fitness centers can capitalize on this trend by designing their gym around the largest selection possible of selectorized equipment the space will allow arranged in such a way that there is easy access to go from one machine to another.

9. Strength Training

Although strength training has been a major component in fitness centers since their conception there has been a recent surge in popularity. The influence of the baby boomer generation in the gym and the importance of strength training as it relates to the aging process has been one of the key factors to its gain in popularity. Since hotel fitness centers are often limited by space past emphasis has been on cardiovascular equipment with weight equipment filling in any extra space. Now, given the recent trend, it makes sense to design the fitness center with selectorized equipment in mind as well.

10. Environmentally Conscious

It seems as if every business sector is being impacted one way or another with the green movement - the fitness industry is no exception. More and more gyms are realizing the importance of sustainability and are adopting these principles into design elements and everyday practices. Consumers also realize the importance of protecting the environment and are seeking out business that "go green." In the health club sector going green falls under a large umbrella. For the hotel fitness center this involves creating a safe, healthy workout environment for your guests. Sustainable principles can be adopted within the design elements, lighting, plumbing, and HVAC system. Facilities should be kept clean via regular cleaning with environmentally safe products. Finally, preventative maintenance programs should be adopted to maintain the equipment thus creating the safe environment.

Trend watching is an ongoing process for business trying to stay competitive when offering their clients the "latest and the greatest." Health clubs are constantly evolving to stay current with the newest trends. For most circumstances this is fairly simple - replacing a piece or two of equipment, changing the group exercise classes around, etc. In the health club industry service is the key. By staying abreast of the current trends or even forecasting what will be popular and adopting these elements into your hotel fitness center you can be assured you are providing the most up-to-date workout environment for your guests.

Kurt Broadhag has over 16 years of experience in personal training and gym design. He is president of K Allan Consulting, a firm specializing in health club design and management. K Allan Consulting works in unison with property owners, architects, and interior designers to address fitness solutions and develop functional workout environments. The company specializes in two-dimensional and three-dimensional fitness facility renderings, consulting from conceptual design to final installation. Kurt obtained his LEED AP certification and has authored articles on green fitness center design. Mr. Broadhag can be contacted at 310-601-7768 or kbroadhag@kallanconsulting.com Extended Bio...

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