Fusion fitness combines elements into a single format. Popular examples include ‘Piloxing’, a mix of Pilates and Boxing and the combining of group exercise with cardio and strength training.
“Fusion classes combine cardio, strength training, bodyweight movements and mobility,” explains Matt Cottle, master coach at Precor. “They’re accessible and scalable to any member of the gym community and enable members to experience continuous improvement through high-intensity interval training, so they never hit a plateau.”
As fusion fitness evolves, it’s becoming tech-driven, in terms of delivery and member experience. This is leading to greater opportunity for interactive, immersive and on-demand workouts, where gym members can combine their favourite equipment and training methods with personalised, engaging content – a fusion of physical and digital.
“Technology and content are the present and future of the industry, creating countless possibilities for fusion-style workouts,” believes Jill Drummond, from Freemotion Fitness.
The growing demand for multi-discipline workouts means we’ll see ever more creativity from operators, dreaming up previously unseen combinations of training methods to entice new and existing members through the doors.
What’s causing the boom?
The industry has moved to a more experiential model, largely propelled by Millennials and Gen Z, who value experiences over material assets.
“Fusion fitness is adaptable and is especially beneficial for anyone looking to make new friends while they enjoy a multi-discipline workout,” says Marc Edwards, from the Jordan Training Academy. “It’s possible to train every movement pattern in a single session and there’s social interaction and subsequently a feeling of integration.”
Another factor is workout efficiency – fusion workouts allow exercisers to squeeze more into every session, as Matt Gleed from Matrix Fitness explains: “Gone are the days where members used to spend hours in the gym doing an hour of cardio, then some strength, before heading poolside, they want the most effective workout in the most efficient timeframe. This is why combining, or fusing training techniques has become popular, especially for small group training.”
The mass appeal of fusion fitness is also thought to be contributing to the growth. “It’s suitable for all ages, genders and abilities – fusion fitness offers something for everyone,” says Ben Steadman, from Pulse. “Couple this with great locations and venues and the fusion market is thriving. Amazing lighting and sound, combined with an engaging experience are driving this market forward.”
Don’t forget the bigger picture, says Physical Company’s James Anderson, who believes fusion offers the variety people crave: “Functional training is also fusion fitness. While many see it as a series of strength exercises, it’s a catch-all term that encompasses a wide variety of exercises and disciplines, making it the ultimate full-body, fusion workout.
“We’re encouraging operators to shift their mindset,” says Anderson. “Free weights, group exercise, functional, and small group training are the styles members are increasingly looking for, and this demands a new approach to facility design. You have to safeguard open spaces and not crowbar them in at the end of an equipment-centric design.
Strength and group ex
The list of strength training benefits is long – increasing bone density, metabolism and lean muscle mass while improving body mechanics and decreasing the risk of chronic disease. However, statistics from ukactive suggest only 24 per cent of women and 34 per cent of men aged 19 to 65 are performing two strength training sessions a week, as per the government’s guidelines. The question is, why?
The most likely reasons are fear of injury, gymtimidation, a shortage of strength training knowledge, lack of funds to hire a PT, a dislike of strength training, or a combination of the above.
Strength training in a group exercise class or a small group training programme has the power to overcome these barriers, explains Drummond. “Fusion workouts offer a taste of multiple formats, they don’t require participants to be an expert in any one area. They thrive on variety and they’re the perfect way to introduce a new format to your members without the gymtimidation.”
Gleed believes fusion workouts hold the key to encouraging a higher percentage of a gym’s community to incorporate strength training into their routines. “By mixing group exercise and strength, you reach new target groups. Members who never prioritised strength training on the gym floor find it fun and accessible in a group setting,” he says.
“Fusion fitness has made strength training exciting, immersive and different,” says Steadman. “Historically, strength was seen as male-dominated and group exercise was a female domain. Fusion has made this a free-for-all. There are many incredible group exercise offerings that are as effective for men as they are for women and vice versa.”
Fusion fitness is evolving and being influenced by other emerging areas of the industry, so partnerships between operators and suppliers are essential. “We’re listening to operators and offering them special touches that aid the delivery of a premium fusion experience,” says Steadman. “Tech is playing a major role in our equipment in 2020. Making experiences more immersive is a big part of the success of the fusion fitness market.”
Tom Rooke from Indigo Fitness says: “Strength training has been around for years but recently, interest in it has grown, due to CrossFit-type workouts and their exposure on social media. This increased knowledge in the wider public has allowed for stigmas to be countered and overcome.”
Indigo Fitness is working with operators to create tailored solutions by combining experience and innovation. “We enable operators to deliver fusion fitness by combining knowledge of strength training with bespoke manufactured rigs and storage with suitable flooring; this lifts training areas to the next level,” says Rooke.
“Small group training on a rig can combine strength training with high-intensity interval training for up to 10 or 12 people at a time,” which is “the epitome of fusion fitness,” says Pete McCall, master trainer at Core Health & Fitness. “Any of these products and programmes – combined with a talented and engaging coach – can deliver the solutions operators want to provide for members.”