With 2017 already well under way, we wanted to reflect on areas the fitness industry saw significant growth in 2016 that are poised to continue to prosper this year. We spoke with Valerie Meyer, Senior Director of Partnerships at ClassPass, to uncover the latest trends to find traction in the fitness and wellness space.

What industry trends from the past year have continued to see growth this year?

Shorter class lengths, which we saw an uptick in the past year with more studios adding, have continued to perform well with our partners and ClassPass members. In fact, based on our industry report released last spring, classes ranging in length from 45-55 minutes on average saw 23% higher utilization on ClassPass. Several businesses have explored how to maximize the lunch hour, tapping into the market of busy professionals and those with tight schedules. If you only have an hour for lunch, you might not be able to make it to a midday 60-minute class, but could squeeze in a 45-minute workout. Popular studios such as Exhale or The Dailey Method have begun offering 45-minute versions of their traditional, longer classes. While not all classes are 45 minutes, the handful of express classes Exhale offers have performed well for them and their clients.

In addition, themed classes have seen explosive growth and traffic this past year. Seize the opportunity to engage with your community and current cultural trends by designing special classes, such as a Lady Gaga-themed class timed around the Super Bowl, or a partner’s class for Valentine’s Day.

Themed classes are easy to plug on social media and are a low-effort but incredibly fun way to attract both new and existing members to visit your studio.

Themed classes are easy to plug on social media and are a low-effort but incredibly fun way to attract both new and existing members to visit your studio. Check out our round-up of why themed classes are strong performers on After Class.

How can studios stand out from the competition in 2017?

It’s important for fitness businesses to take stock of their end-to-end user experiences, which have shown to be a significant factor in driving traffic and cultivating a client following. These extend beyond what happens in your classes to include how your clients perceive and experience your studio or gym outside of class. Owners everywhere should seize the opportunity to curate the full experience for their clients, from the tone of the booking confirmation emails users receive to the nature of interactions with front desk staffers. Adding personal touches such as offering fresh, naturally-flavored water, cold towels after class, high-end amenities in the bathroom or locker room, and Instagram-worthy studio spaces (such as the prolific Y7 Studio staircase), invites your clients to feel part of a community they’ll want to engage with again and again. You don’t need a huge budget to make these experiences stand out; it can be something as simple as instructors offering to take a photo with clients after class or remembering a client’s birthday and playing their favorite song during warm-up. More than ever, it’s important to consider all the brand touchpoints your clients experience from the time they first book a class to the next time they book and how you can make each moment unique and memorable.

What other areas do you anticipate growth in 2017?

One of the other areas we anticipate seeing additional growth is in the pre- and postnatal class space, especially as boutique fitness continues to expand into suburban areas and appeal to women of all ages. 67% of women in their thirties have children, versus 37% of women in their twenties, so there’s a large market waiting to be tapped into of women who want to work out but face childcare limitations. Classes that target expecting mothers, allow moms to take class with their baby or child, or offer childcare will remove the barriers for mothers who are eager to get a workout in. Consider adding or testing lower-intensity versions of your popular classes, even for genres that don’t typically offer pre- or postnatal classes, that will be suitable for new or expecting mothers.

Valerie Meyer is Senior Director at ClassPass, where she oversees Partner Development, Partner Communications, and Corporate Accounts. She joined our team as General Manager launching ClassPass in San Francisco, and established our SF office where she continues to be based. Previously, she held marketing and strategy roles at companies including The Clorox Company, simplehuman, Mattel, and Intuit. She holds a B.A. from University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

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