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    Fitness trends

    Five reasons why HIIT remains the red hot fitness trend

    High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a fitness phenomenon. It’s taken the world by storm over the past decade and shows no sign of slowing down in popularity with the public or efficacy for exercise results. Here we explore the factors fuelling its growth and highlight how your club can harness the trend to boost bottom line.

    Les Mills

    1) Fun and effective

    High-quality offerings are designed to use the principles of HIIT to push participants’ heart rate up as high as possible, as often as possible, across a 30-minute class. An effective HIIT program will be precisely designed and rigorously tested to ensure it delivers the cardio-boosting, calorie-burning effect people crave.

    Yes, it’s fast and furious – but it’s also fun and proven to be more enjoyable than slower-paced exercise for club members, boosting engagement and keeping timetables ticking over smoothly. In a recent US study published in the journal Plos One, 92% of participants found HIIT more enjoyable than moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICT). “Although HIIT is more physically demanding than MICT (moderate-intensity continuous training), individuals report greater enjoyment due to its time efficiency and constantly changing stimulus,” the study’s authors noted.

    2) HIIT keeps members coming back for more

    From the UK to the US, and across the Middle East, HIIT classes are helping keep members hooked and clubs profitable. By their nature, classes are short and sharp, making them convenient for both members and operators alike.

    Les Mills GRIT has been an absolute gem for us

    Angela Davis, owner of emPOWERed in the US

    “The retention rate for participants is over 90% and, last year, GRIT brought in additional revenue that’s increasing by more than 50% year-on-year – members can’t get enough!” Instructors equally love coaching HIIT classes.

    GRIT has helped our Instructors confidently step into the personal training space and help members around the club.

    Sokvann Thaut, group fitness coordinator of Al Corniche Club Kuwait

    “It’s one of the most popular programs in our timetable – our Instructors can’t wait to teach it.”

    3) HIIT is helping to drive the boom in group exercise

    Group workouts continue to shape the future of fitness. In the US, more than one in four (27%) adults now work-out in group fitness classes once a week or more. That’s according to a recent survey of 16,412 individuals by fitness tech platform Mindbody, who identified group exercise as the fastest growing fitness trend in 2019. It echoes recent Les Mills research that found HIIT-inspired group exercise to be the most adopted program or service between 2013 and 2017, with facility adoption growth exceeding 30%. In 2017, HIIT group exercise overtook spin or group cycling as the sixth most popular class worldwide, offered by 62% of all global fitness facilities. Meanwhile, the Les Mills HIIT workout collaboration with Hollywood A-Lister Nina Dobrev was the most-watched fitness video on Youtube last year, racking up over 9 million views so far.

    Group fitness participation is only expected to rise as boutique-style HIIT classes increase grow in prominence, says Amaya Weddle, Ph.D., Director, Product Marketing and Research at Mindbody. “Across the US and worldwide, there’s huge room for growth and plenty of opportunities for wellness businesses to step up and play a part in people becoming healthier and happier,” Weddle said, speaking to wellness news website Welltodo. How? “By engaging them, offering support and motivation and helping break down the levels of intimidation that often come when trying a new workout or service.”

    4) ‘Generation Active’ can’t get enough of HIIT

    Far from being the latest flash in the fitness pan, HIIT has been cooking on gas for several years now and is clearly here to stay. The annual American College of Sports Medicine survey of over 2,000 health and fitness professionals ranked HIIT as its number three fitness trend in 2019. It was number one in 2018 and has remained in the top five for the last four years since hitting the top spot in 2014.

    Among the wider public, it’s a similar story. Since Google started gathering data on online search trends in 2004, interest in HIIT has climbed year-on-year, with each New Year bringing a reliable spike every January. Of those climbing aboard the HIIT juggernaut, Millennials and Gen Z – who now account for 80% of all people paying for exercise and have been dubbed ‘Generation Active’ – make up the largest demographic, with 24% of this demographic participating in HIIT.

    5) Nothing beats GRIT

    With these sky-high numbers for HIIT participation, intensifying competition is leading to varying levels of quality and a growing number of concepts which frankly don’t deliver on the HIIT promise. As a result, Les Mills invests heavily in collaborating with academic institutions to ensure every new release is as effective and engaging as possible. “That is one of the unique aspects of GRIT,” says Dr Jinger Gottschall, an associate professor at Penn State University and a studio owner. “It is tested so that you have the confidence that the sequence of exercises in a release will deliver the results you are hoping for.”

    Every new GRIT release is tested by multiple GRIT experts (individuals who have been training with GRIT for over five years). It’s then trialled by 20-40 people of varying fitness levels, ranging from 20- to 55-years-old with heart rate data recorded to calculate how long participants stay in the optimum 85-100% range of their maximum heart rate.

    “I don’t know another HIIT product that puts as much emphasis on testing every single session for intensity and safety,” adds Gottschall. “This provides an extra level of confidence to Instructors. You’re given all the tools to lead a safe, effective training session and the combination of the choreography notes and videos helps set you up for success.”