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Group Exercise for Niche Markets

Carol A. Kennedy-Armbruster & Mary M. Yoke

Let’s look at some other potential niche markets for group exercise. Many fitness professionals are targeting new mothers as exercise participants who could use camaraderie and support during their life transition into motherhood. Until 2000, classes for new moms were very hard to find, but today stroller-based exercise programs are on the rise (Asp 2006). Baby Boot Camp, StrollerFit, and Stroller Strides are only a few of the new group exercise classes that promote engaging in outdoor activity with your baby. These classes are held either indoors or outdoors in neighborhoods and provide a 60- to 75-minute workout combining all the health-related components of fitness. They average in size from 5 to 15 participants and are held in more than 150 locations in many different U.S. states. They are a wonderful way to get new mothers to interact with one another and enjoy a movement experience together. Most participants stay in the program until their kids are around 3 years old. These programs, which are franchises that can be started by any fitness professional, are listed in the resource guide at the end of this chapter (see page 301).

Another niche class that is popping up is a postpartum class in which the children are involved directly with the exercise experience. A recent article (Davies 2006) described a class named Baby Steps in which the mother and baby work out together. Some people call this type of class a mommy and me program (for more information, see the resource list on page 301). The format is usually strength based, with the new moms using their babies as weight rather than holding a dumbbell or a resistance tube. These types of classes are rich experiences in so many ways. The mothers avoid the guilt of leaving their child in order to go exercise. The families don’t have to pay for day care. The baby loves the interaction and attention. The mothers get a wonderful interactive experience with their child and also get a good workout. And this form of exercise is definitely functional training since the mothers become fit using the weight they carry around all day-their baby.

Another very creative example of a niche market program is a class that combines the enjoyment of music with physical movement. This class, which is based on basic conducting techniques, is called conductorcise. The inventor is a retired conductor, David Dworkin, who played clarinet for the American Symphony Orchestra. He suggests that conductorcise is a very good workout, especially for the upper body (Gerard 2006). He also feels that it improves the listening skills of participants and teaches them about the lives and works of great composers. Many musicians are sedentary due to the nature of their activity. Yet they love listening to and learning about music. Thus this mode of exercise can bring a whole new group of participants-musicians-to the exercise experience.

As exercise instructors, we know that there are clients out there we are missing, and so we need to be creative and think outside of the box when coming up with new movement experiences. Keller (2008) outlines several ideas that have brought energy to group exercise. There’s drop-in dodgeball, a game that is held in a basketball court and resembles the dodgeball game played by children. Or there’s stadium stompers, a class whose participants use the stairs of an outdoor football stadium to enhance their fitness. Finally, there is the breakfast club, a senior fitness class that combines all the components of fitness with an opportunity to eat breakfast and socialize at the facility’s café. All of these programs are client centered and involve not only a fitness component but also a meaningful life experience. This is what creating niche markets in group exercise is all about.


This is an excerpt from Methods of Group Exercise Instruction, Second Edition.

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