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Fusion Classes: The Blends Justify the Means

If you are eager to create something new for your group
fitness participants, fusion classes are a great way to go. Fusion programming combines
(or blends) different disciplines, equipment or modes from the fitness training
trilogy (cardiovascular conditioning, strength and flexibility). Fusion offerings
combat boredom, give exposure to various disciplines and provide necessary
cross-training stimuli. In short, the blends justify the means. Let’s explore
how to create and deliver not just a class but an exceptional blended experience.

Step 1: The Investigative Stage

First, a fusion class has to give guests an unmatched
experience in which benefits exceed the risk taken and the time invested.
Second, a fusion program must provide press-grabbing potential.

A fusion experience has to have a home before its creation. These are some of the questions I

  • What
    equipment currently exists in the movement studio?
  • What
    types of classes are currently drawing the highest and lowest numbers?
  • What
    existing classes on the schedule could I fuse without having to create new
  • What
    does competition in the area currently provide?

Knowing the club’s existing equipment inventory helps me
stay within budget. Creating a fusion class from a facility’s most and least popular offerings helps boost numbers across
the board as I bring in participants from both disciplines. To keep resistance
at a minimum (from those who initially defy change), I fuse from pre-existing
classes before introducing new modes of movement. If a cycling class and a sculpting
class are both packed, I might create an optional blend of those two, for
example. Finally, I check out the competition. This helps me create a program that
can be promoted as “the first of its kind”—buzz that public relations and
advertising departments love.

A lack of credentials shouldn’t prevent you from letting
participants glimpse some of the most innovative ideas in movement history.
When drawing from a discipline that’s newer to you, learn as much as you can.
For every new movement, I study the “Six Ps”:

  • pattern:
    the discipline from which the movement derives
  • purpose
  • position
  • physiology:
    the muscles used and where participants should be “feeling it”
  • planes
    of movement
  • progressions:
    modifications, including regressions

When you feel comfortable with all aspects of a single
movement, add it your toolbox. Always
credit the source of your information, and use the word
inspired; for example, “This movement pattern is inspired by
my own continuing study of the Feldenkrais Method.” Teach what you know, and
know what you know well.

Step 2: The Purpose and Naming Stage

I have developed names for two different types of fusion
experiences that I create. The first is called a “microfusion,” in which I
combine different modes of fitness and/or pieces of equipment for a singular purpose: cardiovascular, strength or flexibility
training. Examples include “Bounce!” (cardiovascular fusion using various pieces
of equipment, such as a BOSU® Balance Trainer and a Resist-A-Ball®)
and “Millennium Matwork” (strength fusion using Pilates, core training and

The second type is “metafusion,” in which the purpose
includes making gains from a combination
of cardiovascular, strength and/or flexibility modes. This realm of hybrid
training is fairly unexplored in our industry, and I feel it offers the most
potential to attract both guests and press. Some of my creations in this vein
include “20! 20! 20!: The Complete Workout for Desperate Housewives” (fusion of
cardiovascular, strength and flexibility with no equipment in interchangeable 20-minute
sections) and “Enter the Zen Den” (strength and flexibility with Gliding™
discs, yoga and Pilates).

An innovative name alone can help sell a successful fusion
program. While traditional names such as “Step and Sculpt” quickly identify the
content, some program directors have found success with trendier titles. Rather
than offering “class descriptions,” call your class list a “menu” and include a
mission statement for each class, describing its overall purpose. The name must
back up and represent the class’s mission.

To learn more about how Lawrence Biscontini
creates his fusion offerings, refer to the full article in the March issue of IDEA
Fitness Journal
or online in the IDEA Article Archive.

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