When the weather gets warmer, many students would rather take their workout outside than get sweaty indoors, translating to a dip in reservations—and revenue. Why not take your workout outside, then? Beyond the health benefits of sunshine and fresh air, adding an outdoor workout is an easy and cost-effective way to target a wide and more specific audience of students. We spoke with two boutique fitness studio owners, each of whom have curated creative outdoor offerings with positive results. We’re sharing their advice for thinking outside the box—and outside the studio.
USE WHATEVER SPACE IS AVAILABLE
FIT RxN NYC is known for its sweaty (and popular!) strength training group sessions. Bonnie Greenwald, Head of Social Media and Business Development, gave us some insight into the studio’s open-air utilization.
“We have a somewhat unique situation with our NYC studio in that we have a gorgeous courtyard right outside and quiet sidewalks and streets all around,” Greenwald says. “Because of this, we are able to take classes outside for part or all of the class whenever the weather cooperates and the instructor feels it will enhance the planned workout.”
Don’t have a park nearby? Greenwald suggests utilizing what outdoor space you have for specific parts of your planned workout. Even if you have just a few feet of outdoor real estate, get creative and consider using the space for a quick warm-up before conducting the rest of your class in your usual space to mix things up.
CRAFT AN OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE
Not all outdoor workouts are created equal. If you decide to offer an outdoor workout, be sure it doesn’t just entail a regular indoor workout. Justin Fassio, Manager at San Diego Core Fitness, touts the many benefits of working out in the fresh air, including the flexibility to use a natural environment to mix up the workout. “We can create a unique bootcamp 6-8 times a day by moving around the parks, utilizing different features,” Fassio says.
He suggests incorporating whatever you can find outside such as inclines, park benches, sand, grassy areas, steps, pull-up bars, curbs or large open sweeping spaces. “I like to use clusters of benches for various exercises from legs, chest and triceps to abs and core. I also like open spaces for sprints and band runs, as well as steep hills that will take 20 seconds to sprint up. A large flat area is essential for most of your body weight exercises as well as trails for running,” Fassio suggests, adding, “outdoor workouts are invigorating as well as extremely diverse.”
PREPARE FOR CHALLENGES
Perhaps you’ve organized a killer outdoor workout—but Mother Nature may have different plans. Environmental and weather changes require a sense of flexibility. Fassio programs his classes seasonally, accounting for Daylight Savings, cold, heat, wind and rain—and always suggests preparing accordingly. First and foremost, always identify how many students will be participating. “This allows us to anticipate the workout and the amount of equipment we will be using. We set up much differently for a 15 person class than we do for a 35 person class,” Fassio says.
Another challenge is dealing with the other people in the outdoor space. “You can’t just assume that the space you would like to use is always going to be available,” Fassio recalls.
Greenwald adds that storage can also be another piece of the outdoor fitness puzzle—clients may come to class with their belongings. To solve this issue, Greenwald says, “we had clients meet at the studio to drop their stuff off inside. Then running over to the park together was part of the warm up.”
With a little creativity and an open mind, adding outdoor classes to your studio offerings is a great way to reach a new clientele—or add a refresh to your usual routine.