Blog : Flexibility and Community Keep Classes Full for Local Fitness Businesses

By John | Jul 15, 2015 | in

By Anne Twombly

PORTSMOUTH - The record breaking snowfall in New England this past winter makes outdoor summer fun all the more desirable to New Hampshire residents. While beaches, streets and restaurant patios welcome a flood of tourists and locals eager to get outside, Seacoast fitness businesses offer great variety and a welcome break from the summer heat.

Nationally, the fitness industry typically experiences a cyclical wane in class attendance during the summer. Yet three Seacoast businesses, Zev Yoga, Gateway Taiji and Integrated Fitness of Dover, keep their studios busy throughout the summer months with flexible schedules, special seminars and classes complimentary to outdoor summer fun.

Integrated Fitness of Dover, lead by owner Jonathan Arnold, serves the seacoast community by educating and empowering individuals to meet personal wellness goals. The fitness facility offers one-on-one, group and specialized training programs to meet the needs of its clients, with a strong emphasis on nutrition. In the summer, Integrated Fitness makes class cards available to its clients to accommodate client’s availability.

“[For] most of our classes, we allow people to use a punch card, good for ten classes. That works for people’s summer schedules,” says Mandy Lafond of Integrated Fitness.

These class cards are good for all of the group fitness classes offered, including Bootcamp Zumba and group strength training classes. And during the summer, Integrated Fitness’s trainers will hold classes outside, allowing clients to enjoy the seasonal weather.

“One of our trainers, Chloe, has an Outdoor Bootcamp she runs until September,” says Lafond. “All of her classes are outside unless the weather is bad.”

Although the Integrated Fitness Weight Loss Challenge is not part of the class card option, it is still the gyms most successful program. This ten-week challenge takes a team based approach to meeting individual weight loss goals. Participants are divided into groups of 12, which then compete to achieve the greatest aggregate weight loss. The program’s holistic approach to wellness provides consistent bi-weekly organized workouts, nutritional information and morale support to participants. But according to Lafond, there is still flexibility for a client’s summer plans.

“Many people might be away and not be able to commit to [all prescheduled workouts]. We allow participants to reschedule up to five classes. This is how we’re getting people to commit over the summer,” Lafond says.

In Portsmouth, Gateway Taiji, Qiong and Yoga, which specializes in a wide range of classes and seminars focusing on all facets of the ancient energy arts, also offers class cards to help encourage students to come in to the studio.

“When summertime comes around, we all want to be outdoors as much as possible,” says owner Bill Buckley. “Our class cards give people the flexibility to come when they can.”

“Yet even with lots of our students on vacation, we’ve seen a significant increase in people taking our taiji and balance classes this summer,” Buckley notes. For them, summer may be an ideal time to practice and learn something new.”

“We also offer weekend martial arts intensives during July and August featuring world class guest instructors. These popular full day seminars are drawing people from as far away as Boston and Portland.”

Buckley insists that getting outdoors has health benefits and that coming to his studio is not a substitute for being outside and active.

“I would never want to discourage that,” he says. “But after you get out there [and run, bike or hike], wouldn’t it be great to do something nice for your body - get it out of its repetitive motion gauge and put it into something that feels really good?”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Jonas Zev, owner of Zev Yoga studios in Portsmouth, Dover and Exeter.

“We have a large population of people who use yoga as a compliment to their fitness health regiments,” says Zev. “They’re not trying to become yogis. I think that distinguishes us a little bit as well.”

Zev, along with his staff of over 22 teachers, has built his business with an emphasis on accessibility and mindfulness in practice. Although Zev hails from an orthodox background, he recognized that his seacoast clientele needed a less intense outlet for yoga practice.

Zev prides his studios for its well-rounded classes for students of any level. For him, it’s about getting people to practice the craft to balance all aspects of their daily lives.

“There’s something kind of magical about that statement, ‘I practice yoga.’ Even if they’re just dabbling with it…people start to look at their lives a little differently,” he says.

The studio’s low price point for unlimited membership makes his studio highly accessible during the summer.

“If people came to yoga once a week at $25 a month, they’re still getting a tremendous value,” Zev says. “We have people who are coming three, four, five, and six, times a week. But the majority of people, they use it as a compliment to their busy lives.”

According to Zev, Providing yoga as a compliment to daily life allows class attendance to be relatively consistent all year round. And he notes that word of mouth and drop-in seasonal visitors keep summer class attendance up.

As diverse as these three businesses are in the kinds of fitness programming they offer, each is unfaltering in their commitment to sustainability within. For instance, Integrated Fitness facilities are all lit with LED lights and use gym mats made from recycled materials. Gateway Taiji, Qiong and Yoga uses solar panels on top of the reclaimed and restored facility roof to power the studio. And Zev Yoga Studios installed a Grander Water System at its Portsmouth studio, as an energy efficient and eco-friendly alternative to traditional water systems. Additionally, all three businesses are also partners with the Green Alliance, a Portsmouth based union of sustainable businesses and like-minded consumer members.

For more information on Integrated Fitness of Dover, visit www.ifitnessnh.com.
To learn more about Gateway Taiji, Qiong and Yoga, visit www.gatewaytaiji.com.
To see a schedule of classes at Zev Yoga Studios, visit www.zevyoga.com.
For more information on The Green Alliance, visit www.greenalliance.biz.