Fitness Entrepreneurs Find Inspiration in Ballet and Beyoncé
Fitness trends come and go all the time. The ones that claim to provide maximum results with little or no work--for example, the 1960s-era Walton Belt Vibrator--ultimately disappear.
The successful programs work by actually requiring that you exercise. Enterprising trainers and businesspeople have been profiting by offering new exercise classes, branded workouts, and devices without making outrageous claims of zero-effort fat burning and muscle building. It appears the tide may be turning in the fitness industry.
Marissa Gold, senior online editor of Glamour, tells Inc. the formula for a successful fitness product is no secret. "The fitness trends that are sticking around are the ones that provide results you can see--whether it's leaving class drenched in sweat or finding ab muscles you never knew existed," she says.
Still, exercise-minded consumers are getting bored of the dreary experience of going to the gym and picking up the same old set of dumbbells. "People are looking for engaging classes, especially ones that encourage you to bring a friend," Gold says. "Boutique fitness classes are slowly taking over, and gyms are trying to compete by adding more creative classes to their repertoires." Here are four of the latest workout offerings to capture the public's attention, and the clever entrepreneurs behind them.
Dance like Queen Bey
Dating back to the advent of Jazzercise in 1969--thank you Judi Sheppard Missett--dance-based fitness classes have been popular. But ever since Beyoncé released her secret album last December, Mitchell Wayne's Beyoncé workout class at Broadway Bodies in New York City has topped the charts in the dance-workout world. Every Monday and Wednesday night, Wayne teaches a packed class one dance routine from one of the 14 songs on Beyoncé's album.
Wayne, who has been teaching pop-music choreographed workout classes since 2011, told The New York Times that this particular class is more popular than Broadway Bodies' other offerings, including those based on songs from Michael Jackson and the TV show Glee. "We tried teaching a few other artists' more recent singles, but every time we'd promote a Beyoncé class, people seemed to line up from the doors to the elevators," Wayne tells the Times.
Glamour.com's Gold says the Queen Bey-themed classes not only tap a hugely popular pop icon's mesmerizing moves, but are challenging and engaging. "Maybe you're in the mood for an energetic 'Crazy in Love' routine, or a more jazzy and slow 'Drunk in Love' routine. Either way, you'll practice and perform the moves enough times during the hour-long class to leave sweaty and empowered," she says. "How can you go back to running on a treadmill after a workout like that?"
The tiny dancer workout
Physique 57 is all about efficiency, results, and longevity--the barre class is a 57-minute blend of strength training, cardio, and stretching that promises you'll see results after eight sessions. Founded by former Wall Street professional Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi and former Lotte Berk Method (a ballet-inspired workout) instructor Tanya Becker in New York City in February 2006, the company now has seven locations, including one in Dubai. In 2010, Physique 57 made the Inc. 500 list at #377 and ranked in the Inc. 5000 in 2011 and 2012.
The company markets non-impact exercise routines designed to prevent boredom and plateaus. While other branded workouts and gyms can have quality-control problems after expanding to multiple locations, Physique 57's founders do not take risks when it comes to hiring instructors. "Our clients know they can expect to find the same superior instruction and customer service no matter which location. And they know that every class will challenge them physically and mentally and moreover, produce results. That's what keeps our loyalty rates some of the industry's highest," Maanavi tells Inc.
The Dutch speedskating workout
The Disq, developed by former Dutch speedskater Robbert Boekema to train off the ice, is a resistance-cable based device used for strength and cardio workouts. The device is composed of a pair of hip-mounted retractable resistance cables that thread through pulleys on each ankle and then are pulled by straps in your hands. The resistance wheels can be adjusted to any level and can be used with a range of exercises--from running and squatting to plyometrics to dancing and boxing.
The gadgets' popularity goes back to the Sochi Games. Three-time Olympic speedskater Stefan Groothuis used them to train before he won gold and his Dutch team took home 24 medals there. According to The Wall Street Journal, Crunch has exclusive rights to the Disq for six months in the U.S. The gym, known for quirky classes, started a 45-minute class called "Transformer with Disq." The $300 device and accompanying mobile app have has been featured in the The Los Angeles Times, Shape France, Glamour Netherlands, and WSJ this week.
The Big Kahuna
If you're too chicken to hang ten in a 12-foot swell but you still want the physique of a lean surfer, then SurfSet Fitness's Ripsurfer X is for you. The 70-inch indoor surfboard machine is a total body trainer designed to mimic the precariousness of riding a surfboard. The company, founded by former pro hockey player Mike Hartwick, made waves during season four of ABC's Shark Tank, where Mark Cuban took a 30 percent stake for a $300,000 investment.
But Cuban doesn't deserve all the credit--the company has gained popularity through its classes, as well as through private gyms in California, New York City, and even Kansas that have bought the boards and the company's signature programs. The Surfset can be used for yoga, strength conditioning, and core workouts. The device requires users to engage their entire body, including small stabilizer muscles, core, glutes, arms, and back muscles. There's no isolating one group at a time with the Surfset--you hit everything at once just as though you were surfing for real.
WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com
Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported on the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.