Booming Trends: Anti-Gravity Yoga

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Once upon a time, I had no interest in yoga at all. I thought yoga was all about meditating by candlelight and singing “oms” in unison with twenty or so strangers. As a health and fitness enthusiast, I was under the impression that a “good” workout had to include intense cardio and heavy weights — neither of which, to my knowledge, were present in most yoga classes. It wasn’t until a friend of mine invited me to an Aerial yoga class that I realized how little I actually knew about this ancient fitness practice.
First of all, I had no idea that there were different types of yoga with varying degrees of intensity. Aerial Yoga (also known as Anti-Gravity Yoga) just so happens to be the most rapidly growing variation, popping up in clubs all over the country. Aerial Yoga includes the use of silk hammocks to support participants as they move through various yoga poses, midair. When I walked into the class and saw lines of these silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling, I immediately thought of the acrobats in Cirque Du Soleil. I thought, if I didn’t get a real workout, at least I’d have fun swinging from the ceiling.
About fifteen minutes into the class I realized I had severely underestimated it. I was sweating, breathing hard and channeling all of my energy into holding what felt like a hundred different positions only a contortionist could pull off. However, I felt great! I felt muscles aching in places I couldn’t normally reach with a typical cardio or weight-centered workout. It was a completely different kind of experience. After class, I thanked my friend for introducing me to this new-found addiction and immediately went home to do some more research about this practice.
What I found was a recent study conducted by the American Council of Exercise that examines how effective Aerial Yoga is as a form of exercise. As I was still feeling the endorphin rush from class, I wasn’t surprised by the results. The study aimed to track how this form of yoga affected participants on a cardiovascular level after three 50-minute classes a week, for a total of six weeks. The study included sixteen participants (all women) of various ages who were asked to wear a calorimetric measurement system as well as a heart rate monitor during each class. The results were extremely positive. At the end of the six weeks, participants not only experienced weight loss and a reduction in body fat, but also an increase in “good” cholesterol and improved respiratory function. Furthermore, it was found that each participant had reduced their risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The study went on to say that each 50-minute class burned about 300 calories! That was impressive enough for me to go back for another round. In fact, I now go about three times a week and each time I go I see a significant increase in attendance. It’s become so popular that my gym had to start offering three more Aerial Yoga classes to accommodate all the members jumping on this new trend.
From the health benefits to the positive, fun, intense environment Aerial Yoga provides, it might be time to consider adding it to your facility’s programming. The flexibility of the hammocks allow for all different fitness levels to participate. I highly recommend it!

If you are yoga business offering anti-yoga classes make sure to check out our yoga studio software to make class check-in quick and easy.

Turning Your Racquetball Court Into a Yoga Studio

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I love my gym. I do not, however, love my gym’s yoga offerings. The first time I went to one of its (few) yoga classes, I left with a longing for the studio I used to live near, where I’d gotten into the habit of attending daily classes. It was a struggle to fit the classes in to my busy schedule, but I loved the instructors, who had studied and taught nothing but yoga for years and who could even make me chant without feeling phony or self-conscious. I loved the wide, airy room, with candles and overgrown plants on the windowsills and a giant Buddha statue near the entryway. I loved the long, green, silky curtains that billowed out when a breeze came in through the open windows — it was the perfect space, with the perfect people, for a practice dedicated to awareness of the spirit/body connection.

At my gym, yoga, zumba, and something called Belly Boot Camp are all held in the same small space. There are no windows. There are no decorations. It smells of sweat. The fluorescent lights in the ceiling remind me of my high school homeroom. The instructors, while well-meaning and good class leaders, sound more like drill sergeants than dharma students. So, although I revel in my gym’s cardio court, run around its elevated track whenever I can, and have a great time with my son in the pool on the weekends, I go elsewhere for my yoga fix.

What if I didn’t have to? What if my yoga studio were inside my gym? According to a recent article in Club Industry, some health club facilities are beginning to create spaces solely for the practice of yoga, Pilates, or some other boutique-type exercise. Many clubs are reluctant to do this; the commitment required to create a dedicated space, find high-caliber instructors, and pull together a devoted marketing team seems too daunting. But, the article argues, the clubs that have taken the leap have reaped economic benefits and increased member retention rates.

In general, the article states, yoga and Pilates studios were among the top 10 fastest-growing industries in the United States in 2012 — despite the recession. Health clubs that have opened studios of their own have found members willing to pay extra for workouts that address both their body and spirit. Carol Tricoche, vice president of education sales for Toronto-based Merrithew Health and Fitness, told Club Industry about her experience as director of group exercise for Pilates and yoga programs at the Claremont Club in Claremont, California. While there, Tricoche helped convert existing racquetball courts into a Pilates studio. “[Members] embraced it as a Pilates studio, and they paid for it,” she said. “Pricing was very comparable to the Pilates studios in the area. They still had their showers, the day care, things they could not get at the studio down the street.”

That’s what I want — my studio, where there’s the kind of yoga I want to practice, inside my gym, where there’s a steam room and a sauna and a locker full of my things. Like the clients at the Claremont Club and at other clubs featured in the article, I’d be willing to pay extra to have that. And my gym would benefit — an added revenue stream, plus the ability to hold on to members like me, who sometimes wonder whether the membership fees are worth it when we spend most of our workout time at the yoga studio. Maybe it’s time to look into how your facility and clients might benefit from turning your racquetball court into a yoga studio. If you are thinking about transforming your racquetball court, checkout out our yoga studio software to make class check-in a breeze.