The experts at Virgin Active the UK’s leading health club operator have used industry insights to predict the UK’s fitness trends for 2012.
Tim Foster, Virgin Active’s head of fitness predicts that fitness trends in 2012 will be lead by the latest government guidelines for shorter duration, higher intensity workouts, “At Virgin Active we have recognised the physical benefits of shorter duration workouts since the introduction of Fast Classes (20 minute instructor-led intensive sessions on the gym floor) several years ago. Fast Classes are popular with members who enjoy coming to the club but are looking for an effective whole body workout in a short space of time, before picking the children up from school, meeting friends for a drink or rushing back to work from lunch.”
2012 will see the introduction of 30 minute studio classes at Virgin Active clubs. These will fit well into most people’s busy schedules and will be designed for effectiveness in burning more calories and fat in a shorter space of time. Tim Foster highlights that this is not an ‘easy’ option, “the challenge for people will be that the workout will be tougher. We all know you don’t get results without putting the effort in.
Training needs to be enjoyable and impactful; people need to see results in order to stay motivated so our fitness professionals will be pushing members to work harder in these sessions.” The Virgin Active experts have recognised that this form of workout increases both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, meaning that metabolism is increased, even at rest, giving better results long after the workout has finished.
The world of fitness will move online, in tune with all other areas of modern life. In 2012, people will have much more access to online goal setting, tracking and competing. This will enable people to see more evidence of results from their training. Another clear way of tracking progress and increasing motivation is with full biometric and body composition testing. The scales are misleading in tracking performance in health and fitness. Full body composition testing will track percentage body fat and muscle changes.
Tim Foster explains what Virgin Active will be doing to help members stay focused on their goals, “We will be educating all of our gym floor fitness coaches to guide members towards achieving goals; they will help members achieve an end goal, by coaching, motivating, guiding and reviewing. The trend for more goal focused workouts will compliment the access to online tracking. People will be able to compete against themselves or their peers. Training should always be progressive and never stagnant. Driving our members online to record their progress will ensure constant motivation and achievement.”
Tim continues “Never before in our history have we invested so much resource into the education of our Fitness Coaches, ensuring they set appropriate goals for our members and that they create truly personalised programmes to help get our members to their chosen goal. We’re also allocating huge training resource to help our Fitness Coaches motivate and encourage our members whilst they are at the club – we call it Oomphing and it’s having a huge impact on our gym floors.
Industry experts at Virgin Active have seen trends in group exercise rotate full circle. The 80s approach of freestyle aerobics developed into a rigid exercise structure into the 1990s. Class attendees became familiar and therefore comfortable with a specific style but in the last year, classes such as Zumba® fitness have led people into a less structured group exercise format. Less structure allows instructors to interpret their own style and participants to have more fun, lowering barriers to entry and making group exercise more accessible. The growth of social networking, allows instructors to have instant feedback on their classes in groups and forums, making group exercise much more interactive rather than a one way conversation from an instructor at the front of a class.
Gillian Reeves, Virgin Active’s national group exercise manager, comments, “Incredibly, the trends for group exercise have very much been led by the hugely popular Zumba Fitness. The Zumba philosophy of fun with fitness as an additional benefit fits wholly with Virgin Active’s goals and works perfectly for our members. This has led to there being more dance classes than ever on offer to our members. People are looking for a community in their group exercise class, which drives a social environment in the classes and the clubs in general.”
“Fusion will emerge as a trend in group exercise in 2012. We witnessed the beginnings of this in 2011 with classes such as Krank Fusion (Kranking and Spinning) and martial arts with dance classes. The style of class is set to grow even further next year.”
As the 2012 Olympics approach, people are naturally starting to think about athletic fitness. Virgin Active will be working with a very high profile British athlete to create classes for members that will be made up of athletics based drills, designed to focus on speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) in both a 20 minute Fast Class format and 30 minute studio class. The classes will be inspired by professional athlete training and include plyometrics that fire up muscle fibres in order to create maximum impact from movement.
Inspired by the Olympics, people are looking for more excitement and variety from their fitness, this leads to more innovation. Virgin Active, as the UK’s most innovative health club will be looking to excite members with the introduction of the TRX Riptrainer, Aqua Zumba®, mind and body inspired suspension training and the nationwide rollout of willPower & grace®.
TRX Riptrainer is a piece of kit that provides a total body workout emphasising rotational power and high velocity movements. A baton shaped object that is attached to a frame, challenges the core muscles with varying levels of resistance. The kit can provide hundreds of different sport based exercises. Whilst most traditional weight training and resistance tools employ a single plane of motion, TRX Riptrainer mimics the real world 3D range of motions and rotations commonly found in sport and everyday life, offering a total body workout in just 20 minutes.
The kit consists of a 12 foot long ‘sports cord’ attached to a double handed pole which is anchored to a secure surface. The users move the pole in a multitude of three dimensional directions and planes that require the use of muscles throughout the legs, core and upper body to help maintain an upright, balanced posture.
Virgin Active will be taking the global success of Zumba classes into their swimming pools with Aqua Zumba. Gillian Reeves believes that Aqua Zumba will take aqua aerobics into a new area of fitness, “Aqua Zumba takes the energy, excitement and fun of a Zumba class into the swimming pool. The classes are out of the studio but the instructors are Zumba-trained and the participants will come along for fun with fitness as additional benefit! The classes are refreshing, dynamic and exhilarating and the Latin and international music transports participants, far away to somewhere exotic and exciting. The beginning of 2012 will see people escaping the winter blues with an injection of various forms of Zumba classes, Aqua Zumba being the latest for Virgin Active.”
Mind and body inspired suspension training
Virgin Active will be offering their members a mind and body inspired suspension training exercise class that involves hammock-like swings hanging from a studio ceiling. The swing supports parts of the body, allowing the participant to carry out strength and flexibility training in an interesting and unique way.
willPower & grace®
willPower & grace is a barefoot, cardiovascular high-energy group exercise class that involves a formatted fusion of postures and drills. Both a foot-fitness conditioning program and a workout, it is as philosophical as it is physical. The class, set to high energy music, integrates barefoot training methods designed to strengthen feet while progressively correcting imbalances in the ankles, knees and hips.
The willPower & grace® programme teaches participants to stretch their toes in order to increase circulation and mobility throughout their feet and ankles. In the class, participants are taught to use their most intrinsic muscles to land on their feet gracefully; reducing pain and injuries in their feet, ankles and knees. Virgin Active will be launching the extremely successful US based class in 2012 to clubs nationwide.