Professionals in the fitness industry continue to admire the surge in popularity being seen by High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) studios. Whether incorporated within an existing facility or as its own boutique studio - HIIT studios are not just a fad but a feature of the fitness industry which is here to stay.
In this article, we have laid out some crucial elements to consider when designing the perfect High Intensity Interval Training studio so that you can make the most of this expanding market.
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training involves pairing periods of intense high energy exercise with low effort rest intervals. Due to its nature, altering the periods of exercise and recovery allows you to create an infinite number of interval training workouts. This style of workout has become increasingly popular in recent years and is widely cited as one of the industry’s top trends at the moment.
You can find out more about HIIT in this article by our Master Trainer Claire Tracey.
What's out there?
As with any new business venture, it is important to familiarise yourself with the current market. At the moment, there are two main sections of the established HIIT industry; the open-plan functional training gym and boutique studios with a HIIT focus.
In an established training facility, any HIIT zone has been incorporated almost always retrospectively. This does not make the facility any less suitable for group HIIT sessions however, as these facilities often have a large spaces and ranges of equipment available to experiment with.
The high intensity boutiques have been designed with group HIIT classes in mind. This means that the entire environment, from the moment you walk in to the facility, has been carefully thought through to get you motivated and ready for an intense training session. These facilities can really push the sense of community and capitalise on the increased feeling of accountability between members to keep attendance numbers high.
The beauty of HIIT is that most of its success lies in the creativity of those running the session, rather than just the equipment. This means that hosting HIIT sessions is a possibility for anyone on any budget, space or member base.
However, to get started and set up a good HIIT training studio, we would recommend beginning with the following pieces of equipment:
- At least one piece of HIIT cardio equipment
- Plyo boxes
- Mats for floor based exercises
- Set of kettlebells
If you really want to make the most out of your space, transform the floor itself in to a training space by installing prowler/sled tracks or creating training zones through different floor markings and colours.
Depending on your space, members, and budget, you can increase quantity and variety in equipment.
If you are struggling to decide, Origin Fitness have set up these example HIIT studio packages at three different levels to help you get started with top level equipment.
What is meant by HIIT Cardio?
The most traditional piece of HIIT cardio is the rower but other pieces have become increasingly mainstream.
Other popular choices include curved, self-driven treadmills such as the Speedfit. If you already have treadmills in your facility, still consider investing in these alternatives for your HIIT classes, as standard treadmills are not mechanically built for continuous intense intervals. They also don't give your members the ability to sprint from a standing start and can go in to standby mode if not in use for a set amount of time, interrupting the training session.
Similarly, bikes such as the Stairmaster Airfit are popular alternatives, as they give the user a full body cardio boost and are easily mounted/dismounted allowing for quick user changes. They also give the option to train only the lower or upper body, adding extra flexibility to the circuits.
Other options include upper body ergometers, spin bikes and ski ergometers, all of which provide the same quick cardio boost the HIIT sessions require.
As a vital piece of kit in any HIIT studio, plyo boxes offer members explosive movement training with minimal other equipment requirements. By investing in multi sided plyo boxes, you can save on storage space and add an extra dimension to their training by adding jumping, dipping and incline/decline body weight exercises.
The plyo box can give you the versatility that means you don’t necessarily need benches or an area for incline/decline bodyweight movements and dips. Nothing screams high intensity like burpee box jumps.
Mats for Floor Based Exercises
This one is essential and an old favourite in all types of gyms; using your bodyweight to get your heart rate up is completely fool proof and perfect for members of all fitness levels. Using body weight movements within a HIIT session is a great way of bringing versatility to a session without needing to invest in further equipment.
For mats themselves, you will want to consider some that can withstand heavy use of extended periods of time. Have a look through our mat buying guide for a full breakdown on what's out there, and help you find the right one. Also consider our variety of flexible storage solutions to help keep mats out of the way and the floor space free when not in use.
Other Equipment to Consider
If space and budget allow, another fantastic addition to any HIIT studio is a functional rig, wall mounted pull up bar or monkey bar to include gymnastic and hanging movements. Consider also investing in suspension trainers such as the TRX or PT4Pro to build balance and strength, and bring variety to the sessions.
To find out more about rig based exercises and training sessions, have a look through our "How to Structure a Rig Based Functional Class" article by Master Trainer Claire Tracey.
Quantities of Equipment Required
When deciding on quantities of kit, you should really look at the type of classes you are looking to host. Cyclical circuit based HIIT sessions allow you to expand on variety while keeping the quantities themselves small, whereas full-on standardised class based HIIT sessions will require you to supply a larger amount of members with the same piece of kit.
The above are highly dependent on your type of facility, size of space and number of participants you expect. Make sure to break down your plan in as many ways as possible to avoid overspending or purchasing the wrong type of kit.
Top Quality Décor
Part of the highly desired boutique experience is not just the session itself but also the intense vibe and associated style. Sites like Level Ten and Three Tribes have nailed this look and feel within their gyms.