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    Acquisition & retention

    5 clubs striking gold with innovative approaches to strength workouts

    We spoke to five thriving clubs from across the world who are winning with strength programming through a range of different tactics. Here are their top tips for success.

    Jak Phillips

    “Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often,” author Mark Twain once wrote.

    We can all comfortably say that the red-hot strength trend represents a major growth opportunity for operators, but it’s how we act on this that will make the difference.

    Many have already made good progress. Operators across the world have been swapping out cardio equipment for extra weights stations on the gym floor, while a raft of new strength-based classes have quickly come to prominence – particularly as a means of alleviating lengthy queues at the squat racks.

    Enticing strength fans away from the gym floor requires a solid mix of strength-based classes on your timetable that can support regular lifters and newbies alike. Mixing up these classes between the studio and functional areas of your club is another great way to spread capacity and showcase these experiences to members who might otherwise not see what goes on inside the studio.

    The 2023 report Gen Z Fitness: Cracking the Code found that 64% of Gen Z exercisers like to choose different workouts, as well as discover new ones. Their enthusiasm for strength and conditioning workouts has led to sculpt workouts – such as Stretch, Yoga and Pilates classes – experiencing a resurgence in clubs as a complementary training modality for building and toning muscle. The report showed strong appetite for sculpt workouts – with 63% of Gen Z exercisers enjoying Reformer Pilates, 57% doing Yoga, and 55% taking part in mat Pilates – suggesting there’s plenty of demand for more strength variants across the club in 2024.

    So how do we follow Twain’s lead and ensure we lead with actions that will bring the biggest impact to bottom line? We spoke to five thriving clubs around the world who are taking very different approaches to winning with strength programming. Here are their top tips for success:

    1. Aim high to drive extra revenue

    Tapping into trends like strength with small group training can be a powerful driver of new revenue streams. Dutch facility Lifestyle and Health Club Magic recently leveraged the modality’s appeal by launching LES MILLS STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT™ – a science-backed, muscle-building workout designed to help members improve power, learn correct technique and build overall confidence in strength training, both in the studio and on the gym floor.

    The club is generating an additional €249 per participant (on top of membership fees) for each limited-time course by making the package feel as exclusive as possible. These tactics include early-access offers to influential members, as well as providing extra workshops and education nuggets to supplement the workouts and support member progress across the 12-week course.

    “We run STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT with a maximum of 12 members per class. That way we can personalize the coaching based on what each participant requires,” says the club’s Founder, Scott Elder.

    “It helps make the process more personal, aided by floor coaching, giving participants an excellent grounding for when they’re ready to move on to free weights. And it’s a great add-on for the club, which builds a buzz among members and generates more revenue.”

    2. Build a buzz by breathing new life into the timetable

    Eager to unlock new opportunities with strength training, The Edge Fitness Clubs conducted an 8-week pilot of STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT across seven US clubs in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

    “We’re using it to add something new to our timetable, build a buzz and become one of our star performers,” explains Jenny Au, Director of Fitness Operations.

    “As the trend towards strength training continues to grow, the program proved very appealing to members looking to enhance their strength training and we see particularly strong potential to engage younger members through STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT.”

    Results from the pilot showed 92% of participants returned after their first session, while nearly three-quarters (72%) took more than 5 classes across the 8 weeks. There’s also a strong opportunity for the program to drive referrals with 80% of members ‘very likely’ to recommend STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT to others, and a further 12.5% ‘likely’ to recommend it.

    Buoyed by the success of the pilot, The Edge decided to roll out STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT across a further 30 clubs. The program quickly became one of the operator’s top-performing classes and Jenny believes the unique style of training is what’s helping to add depth and dynamism to the timetable.

    “Differentiation is key. Nothing beats BODYPUMP™ for strength endurance and group barbell training enjoyment, so it rules our timetable at most clubs. We’ve used STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT to offer members something new and support them with their wider gym targets. It makes a great 8-12 week challenge for members who want to set a goal, and we find the broad appeal of a challenge means even people who wouldn’t usually take strength classes love STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT!”

    3. Build a boutique out of underutilized areas

    Jaci Griffin, Manager of Les Mills New Lynn club in New Zealand, recently transformed underutilized space in her club into a boutique studio to help it compete with the string of F45s and other boutique offerings that had sprung up nearby.

    Jaci’s in-club boutique studio offers a range of high-quality programming, including HIIT and strength-based classes, along with LES MILLS SHAPES™ and LES MILLS CEREMONY™. She suggests carrying out data benchmarking to ensure your studio can support the optimal mix of programming.

    “With so many trends and member categories to cater to, it can be really tough to decide how to allocate space in the club,” says Jaci. “One of our key performance indicators is that we aim to be servicing 2.1 active members per square meter in our workout spaces – we use this to inform our decisions on capacity management and investment. We made sure the boutique was a multi-purpose room so we could host a breadth of classes, and this new space has brought a strong boost to both our capacity metrics and our total membership.”

    Adding the boutique space required some initial investment, but it’s helped to attract hundreds of new members and turbocharge engagement, sending the club’s NPS score up into the mid-60s.

    “We know the sense of community in our club is integral to keeping our members with us, so we wanted to make sure the boutique offering would drive even more members into group fitness,” adds Jaci.

    “Because CEREMONY combines functional training with strength work, we’ve been able to mop up the gym floor and bring new faces into our studio who wouldn’t have been seen dead there previously. The sense of competition and camaraderie is a real draw, and we’ve got participants in there ranging from 16 to 76 years old, so we’re reaching right across our member base.”

    4. Leveraging your A-team to lead the charge

    As a forward-thinking operator with a strong track record of innovation, UK club chain Village Gyms wanted to launch new strength programming to support its member experience strategy and attract new Instructor talent.

    To kickstart the project, Ben Edwards, National Health & Fitness Manager for Village Gyms, curated a team of top talent to give STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT an impactful start.

    Once Ben had his A-Team lined up, he found the simplified STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT onboarding process – a half-day upskill session open to any PT or fitness professional – increased the pace at which they could launch the program. Meanwhile, having access to a simplified training model widened the net of staff members eligible for training.

    The results of this approach were plain to see, with 98% of participants satisfied with the quality of Instruction they received, while 100% of the Instructors said they were likely to continue teaching STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT.

    “To give our members the best possible experience, we picked our most engaged GFMs and team members to help us bring the program to life,” Ben explains.

    “The process from induction to launch was smooth and seamless, while the results were really impressive. We achieved a 95% average class occupancy at our best-performing club, despite trying out some unusual time slots. There’s nothing like STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT on the market right now – it's a great way to attract Gen Z with a red-hot trend.”

    5. A more affordable alternative to PT

    The need to engage members who require extra support to stay on track with their goals, but can’t necessarily afford a personal trainer, led Dutch facility SportStudio Dokkum to take a new approach.

    Owner Dirk Monsma decided to heighten the personal experience by offering LES MILLS STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT™ classes as small group training, promoting them as a budget-friendly alternative to personal training. Charging €139 for a 12-week course, the club was inundated with interest and soon had to double the number of classes it was offering.

    “STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT offers a heightened sense of coaching, providing participants with a cheaper alternative to PT that still gives them personal attention and the results that keep them coming back,” says Dirk.

    The approach has brought new members into the facility, as well as generating extra revenue and engagement among existing members.

    “It really is a very strong addition to the timetable,” adds Dirk. “You train completely differently and it’s a totally new experience – the participants all say that. And it’s a great all-round workout; you really notice the impact that the exercises are having on your body and you leave feeling much stronger.”


    Les Mills has crafted a new series of programs to meet the specific demands of Gen Z and put your club in the fast-lane for growth.