15 Group Fitness Predictions for 2016 and Beyond

by Joy Keller on Sep 28, 2015

We interviewed and surveyed 15 high-profile group fitness experts who have vast insider knowledge of programming, budgets, marketing, equipment, creative class design, education, skill sets, music and more to find out where the industry “hot spots” are right now. Read on to find out how their predictions may help you manage staff and determine the best programs for your membership base.

15 Group Fitness Predictions

  1. Metrics (heart rate monitoring, etc.) will be used in classes to establish work intensity. This is a way for attendees to track tangible progress as they become stronger from class to class. —Abbie Appel

  2. Instructors and program directors should prepare for more integration between technology, workout tracking and analysis. Event-based training (group fitness as preparation for 5K, triathlons, The Color RunTM, etc.) may factor into future growth. —Julz Arney

  3. It is likely that instructors will become “movement coaches” and “everyone will have mindfulness components as part of programs: even CrossFit and boot camp.” Music usage will become “even more strict for instructors.” “And we will have a more defined career path.” —Lawrence Biscontini

  4. Payroll issues are something to keep an eye on as an industry. “We must come up with a simple payroll system [that includes] time outside of the gym.” —Donna Cyrus

  5. “Integration by discipline” is a growth point and more cooperation between fitness facility departments, as well as with allied health professionals, would be ideal. “There needs to be a more collaborative conversation and pathways for businesses and talent to come together to solve the greater issues we face as an industry.” —Lashaun Dale

  6. “Activity and fitness tracking (measuring heart rate training and integrating wearable devices) is something to watch, as well as mindfulness training and programs that focus on mobility. Outcomes-based fitness (reducing blood pressure, weight, etc.) for fitness programs that are health-and wellness-based are becoming the standard.” —Grace DeSimone

  7. There will be “smaller classes with a specialized focus.” “I think that musicality and group fitness will play a bigger role in the future. Outdoor-focused training will become more prevalent." —Amy Dixon

  8. “Regeneration-focused offers” may be an important driver and refers to “comprehensive programming that addresses all aspects of health and fitness in a more integrated way.” —Carol Espel

  9. “Virtual [classes] will surpass live [ones] in many locations for us, and trying to provide a studio experience inside of health clubs will continue to rise.” —Shannon Fable

  10. Virtual classes will indeed become more valuable, and functional training will continue to evolve. Yoga and Pilates will keep growing as well. —Fred Hoffman

  11. There is likely to be “continued growth in mind-body formats, less choreography and more “freestyle” formats, and more kettlebell group training programs.” —Alex Isaly

  12. Core-focused training will remain popular. “Pilates principles will become more trendy . . . [and there will be] more emphasis on alignment and technique within mind-body disciplines. Body weight training will stay up top.” —Amy Nestor

  13. Group fitness instructors can expect to see more active older adults and more dance-based classes. —Krista Popowych

  14. “Recovery” classes that include foam rolling and other forms of myofascial release will be popular, as well as fusion classes that include yoga as a “common denominator.” —Kimberly Spreen-Glick

  15. Indoor cycling will stay popular. Yoga will continue its time in the spotlight with special focuses such as “healthy back,” “cancer wellness,” “cardiac rehab wellness” and more. —Linda Webster

Group fitness arouses nostalgia and feels like “home” for many exercisers, both avid and novice. As the backbone of the fitness industry, it has ebbed and flowed over the past three decades (and counting). People love exercising to music and sharing endorphins. In fact, fitness facility members are thriving on creative class options, demanding more varied opportunities and driving the industry forward. What can you, as a group fitness professional, do to meet the needs of a growing market? What programs, equipment and trends are making people of all ages and abilities jump, stretch, lift and smile?

Thank you to the following 15 group fitness experts for helping us pinpoint areas of growth in the industry:

  • Abbie Appel, group fitness manager, Equinox, Miami
  • Julz Arney, Team Arney Fitness Consultants, Costa Mesa, California
  • Lawrence Biscontini, MA, mindful movement specialist, based in Greece and New York
  • Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming, Crunch Fitness, New York
  • Lashaun Dale, vice president of group X, 24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, California
  • Grace DeSimone, national group fitness director, Optum, New York
  • Amy Dixon, national group fitness creative director, Equinox, Los Angeles
  • Carol B. Espel, MS, senior global director of group fitness, Equinox, New York
  • Shannon Fable, director of exercise programming, Anytime Fitness, Boulder, Colorado
  • Fred Hoffman, MEd, owner, Fitness Resources Consulting Services, Paris
  • Alex Isaly, celebrity trainer, Los Angeles
  • Amy Nestor, educational ambassador, EMPOWER! Fitness Conferences, Capistrano Beach, California
  • Krista Popowych, 2014 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Kimberly Spreen-Glick, senior director of group fitness, yoga and indoor cycling, Life Time Fitness—The Healthy Way of Life Company, Chanhassen, Minnesota
  • Linda Webster, owner, Guru Fitness LLC, Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • To read more about how the insights from these industry experts will support and strengthen your class experiences, please see "2015 IDEA Group Fitness Trend Watch" in the online IDEA Library or in the July-August 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master. Joy joined IDEA Health & Fitness Association in 2002, and brought with her a wealth of information about how to fine-tune communication channels, after having spent her formative career years specializing in business-to-business journalism. Before she even graduated with honors from the respected University of Georgia journalism school, Joy was offered a job at one of the most successful trade publishing companies in the southeast, Shore Varrone, Inc. She made her mark in the automotive aftermarket industry as a creative thinker and journalist with an intuitive knack for researching and understanding niche audiences. Joy has worked on several titles, including Auto Trim & Restyling News, Truck Accessory News, Digital Output Magazine, Retail & Construction News, Miata magazine, Ford Racing, and many more. Her passion, however, lies with health and fitness. She was the associate editor of ACE Certified News while working at the American Council on Exercise, and transitioned that publication from a newsletter to a magazine. She has enjoyed 17 years at IDEA, where she has launched several publications, including the award-winning Inner IDEA Body-Mind Spirit Review, IDEA Pilates Today and IDEA Fit Business Success. Joy is a content creator and media 2.0 advocate who takes pride in discovering the unique information needs of qualified audiences, and she is dedicated to serving those needs while following the highest available standards.