New fitness trends emphasize personal attention

From Crossfit to bootcamps, a handful of Bellingham gyms are following the newest training trends.

By Jesse Amorratanasuchad

Trends in the fitness industry are constantly changing, as different spokesmen have appeared to tell customers the best “get-fit-quick” schemes. From Jack LaLanne’s health and fitness show in the 1950s to Jane Fonda’s aerobic workouts in the 1980s, people are constantly finding new ways to lose a few pounds.

Traditionally, athletic clubs and gyms have been associated with treadmills, dumbbells and mirror-lined walls. In this setting, people have the chance to try different machines, weights and exercises that will hopefully give them the results they want.

Competition in the fitness market offers the question of how smaller fitness facilities attract clients and provide them a satisfactory workout experience. Several businesses in Bellingham are taking active roles in providing more specific strategies for patrons to lose weight, get fit and have fun while they work out.

Bootcamps, crossfit and boutique-style personal training classes have increasingly grown in popularity in Bellingham and in the fitness industry as a whole. The owners of Crossfit X, 41 Sports, and Fitness Gear and Training are offering more specific fitness training strategies to their clientele that focus on creating a personal connection with each and every one of their clients.

A completely different workout

Travis and Alycia HoGlin noted that five years ago, there were no bootcamp or crossfit programs in Bellingham. Now, Crossfit X is among some of the newer facilities in town to incorporate the “all-encompassing” fitness philosophy, where trainers teach their clients functional movements and workouts that can transfer to any part of their daily lives.

“If you don’t have the intimate knowledge of the big gyms, it’s hard to go in there and create workouts for yourself,” HoGlin said. “If you don’t have someone in there showing you how to work the different machines, it can be kind of intimidating.”

People will often purchase monthly memberships to gyms, but after two or three weeks, membership cards begin to collect dust. Crossfit X has eliminated monthly fees and operates on a month-to-month basis so that clients will commit to the workouts and use what they pay for, HoGlin said. Since their opening in early May, Crossfit X has 26 to 28 clients and has greatly outpaced their projections for the success of their business.

“Crossfit is the kind of workout that once you incorporate it into your daily life and your workout regime, it just has an effect on your life,” HoGlin said. “It becomes addictive.”

This style of workout is also relatively new, which means it will take time for people to notice the differences between crossfit and other fitness classes, HoGlin said. Crossfit X has done little advertising, but has been successful attracting clients simply through word-of-mouth. Although the business has been open only one month, the HoGlins’ client base is continuing to grow thanks to the results clients are seeing as well as the popularity of crossfit workouts.

“Health, wellness, fitness. These are all things people will always be concerned with,” HoGlin said. “If you have something that’s convenient, short in duration and completely effective then a lot of people will find a way to bring that into their lives.”

Know the business, be the business

As a former professional athlete, Anthony McClanahan knows the importance of fitness training.

McClanahan, owner of 41 Sports fitness facility, has incorporated the knowledge from his seasons in the NFL into his gym’s philosophy and offers 14 different bootcamp and cross-training programs that help customers see results.

“People will lose weight doing my program, period,” McClanahan said. “I don’t use electricity, we use your own body. We could be inside one day and outside the next. If you work out with me for 90 days, you can call me your cousin. Six months and we’re siblings.”

Publicity and online networking has been key for the success of McClanahan’s business. Along with the studio’s Web site, 41 Sports has Facebook and MySpace pages and is also signed up for a Twitter feed, which helps clients stay updated on upcoming classes and events, McClanahan said.

“People are tired of hearing the boring riff-raff of the gym,” McClanahan said. “These bootcamps aren’t work, it’s fun in fitness. Change makes you beautiful, it’s a butterfly effect.”

‘Virtually impossible to fail’

Zac Palmer, owner and manager of Fitness Gear and Training, said he relates crossfit and bootcamp workouts as the fitness industry’s “next big thing.” But Palmer said this training is much more than just a fad.

“People are tired of the old gym environment and are looking for something new,” Palmer said. “The good thing with the stylization of the training that these bootcamp- or crossfit-oriented gyms have is that it’s one hour, high-intensity and virtually impossible to fail.”

Three weeks ago, Palmer and his other personal trainers began to incorporate small-group training sessions among their one-on-one workouts and have noticed a steady increase in clients asking to join the group fitness classes.

The fitness studio has approximately 30 clients in their personal training program and at least 20 in their bootcamps, which are growing in popularity as more become available.

Palmer said the fitness studio’s core philosophy includes the functional aspect of fitness, which moves away from the isolationist theory of doing bicep curls and bench pressing, and spends more time focusing on replicating day-to-day movements, core stabilization and injury prevention.

What’s unique about boutique style personal training, where a small group of people comes in for the same workout, is that the trainers are able to give their clients input from multiple experts to get the best possible results, Palmer said.

“One thing that all trainers can agree on in this industry is we never agree on anything at all,” Palmer said. “So by having multiple fields of input, you’re more likely to get the full benefit of the workouts.”

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