Popularity of group ex soars

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There will be a continued growth in the popularity of group exercise this year, with a specific focus on mind-body classes, speciality classes, fusion-type classes, and minimal equipment classes.

This is according to Fabio Comana, American Council on Exercise (ACE) exercise physiologist, responsible for the annual survey of ACE fitness professionals exercise trends predictions.

With more and more health club operators in the Middle East looking for staff with qualifications accredited by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), his predictions are pertinent to the industry here and worldwide.

Comana said: "About four to five years ago, we witnessed the introduction of fusion classes that focused upon blending mind and body and those classes will continue to grow in popularity as they provide balance to people's lives.

"We have witnessed a shift in the focus of group exercise from one of pure physiological conditioning to the opportunity to create balance and wellness."

In terms of speciality classes, Comana said that those using reformers to focus on core muscles will remain popular, while there is also a need for population-specific classes, such as those for older adults.

Not only do these classes assist more mature adults to remain physically independent, they also build social support systems.

Quirky classes that Comana said we will see more of in 2008 are those blending together traditional and non traditional group exercise, like yo-cycling, and minimal equipment classes that incorporate conditioning and flexibility using body weight and accessories such as towels for resistance.

Personal Training is another key area for health club operators to focus on in 2008, particularly as it is a very valuable source of secondary income for clubs.

According to Comana, the main trends are express workouts; boot camps; sports conditioning; a more musculoskeletal and orthopaedic approach to training; and the expansion of options for programme delivery, such as pod-casting.

Finally, Comana said a focus on wellness - through increased public awareness and preventative programmes - will be important this year.

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