Innovative Programming with PJ Stahl


Innovative programming and new fitness tools can inspire and change the energy of your fitness environment.

You can use to some of the same strategies we use at Lock Box LA to create a seamless integration protocol for new fitness classes and equipment. Change can sometimes be overwhelming as a business owner, but from a client retention and acquisition standpoint it can be exciting. Below are some of the methods we use at our fitness center to keep both members and Coaches excited about fresh inventive ways we are advancing our classes and programming.

The most recent innovative strategy we have used at Lock Box LA has been creating and implementing a new class into our regular weekly schedule. Our most recent example is the new Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) Bootcamp Class. We decided to create this new class because we noticed there was a demand for a conditioning-based class that created a new challenge for members. We wanted something without barbells to balance out the other classes we currently offer. We also wanted to create something that would inspire our community to take on the goal of doing a Spartan Race. After assessing the demand, we knew it would work.  We just needed to adjust our schedule and create an implementation plan.

First, we started by addressing the equipment needs, making appropriate schedule changes and fulfilling our budget. With the goal to increase membership numbers and class participation, we could rationalize a larger budget to invest into new equipment.

After we made the plan, we had to get our staff on board and trained. We started by teaching our staff about the class format and structure. After they learned the programming, we then taught them about the variety of OCR equipment we were going to use for the class and all of the new obstacle based exercises they needed to learn. The coaching staff was so excited to learn about new tools and exercises they had never done before. This was a great way to excite our staff about something original at the gym.

We also had to get our members excited and create a buzz within the gym and our local community. All our Coaches made announcements at the beginning of every class one month prior to the launch of the class to get the clients excited. We also had an article published in the LA Times about what the OCR Bootcamp was offering to the Los Angeles area that was not currently at any other fitness center. These marketing strategies were ideal for generating the buzz for our facility and the new class that was about to be initiated.

After launching, we have had amazing feedback from our staff and members about the class. The Coaches love the idea they can help create innovative exercises with the new pieces of equipment. The members feel like they get new challenges in every class with these different fitness tools that they had never used in any of our other classes at Lock Box. They also like that the programming and how it changes with every workout and the different obstacles they have to face.

We recommend trying something new at your facility if it works within your system. This has newly inspired our staff and members by bringing a positive challenging energy back into the gym. Sometimes things can feel stale, even if things are going great. So, why not bring some stimulating liveliness back?

Below is our 10-step guide to the questions anyone should complete to implement a new innovate class at your facility. Take on the challenge. Good luck, and have fun doing it!

10 Questions to Guide the Process of Implementing a New, Innovative Class:

  1. FITNESS DEMANDS: What are the current fitness demands at your facility? What type of workout/programming is missing? How could a new class fill this gap?
  2. SCHEDULE: Where in the current schedule could this class fit? Will you be trading out other classes and replacing with the new class or adding additional class times?
  3. CLASS FORMAT: What is the ideal class format? What is the goal of the class?
  4. EQUIPMENT NEEDS: What pieces of equipment/tools will you need to fulfill the class requirements?
  5. BUDGET: What will the initial startup costs be for the new class? Build out a budget for the new class. How much will equipment cost? How about paying Coaches? Is it a weekly or monthly budget?
  6. MAKE IT EXCITING: Re-assess why you are implementing the class and be sure you are capitalizing on:
    1. The new and exciting class format.
    2. The new pieces of equipment in the class.
    3. The new exercises your instructors will teach and clients will experience.
    4. Can you attach a goal with participating in class (train for a Spartan Race)?
  7. TRAINING STAFF: How much time will it take to train the staff on the new class format? Teaching process? And new equipment and exercises?
  8. MARKETING NEW CLASS: How can you promote the new class? Make it an announcement at your other classes. Make a flyer/handout at the front desk. Have your front desk staff talk about the new class to everyone that comes in to the gym. Reach out to local publications to announce the new class and schedule.
  9. FEEDBACK: Get feedback from your Coaches and members. Is the class format working? Are the members excited to take class? Is the intensity level and intimidation factor appropriate (too high/too low)?
  10. ADJUSTING AND ADAPTING: Make the appropriate adjustments to the class that are optimal for implementation and success of the program.


By PJ Stahl. Power Systems Master Coach, PJ Stahl, MA, CSCS is creator of PROJECT STEEL and a Reebok Ambassador. His background in competing in collegiate level Division I gymnastics paired with his experience coaching professional athletes, he was naturally led to become a fitness performance coach. PJ utilizes over 20 years of experience and over 25 certifications as a well-rounded elite fitness expert in personal and group training. PJ currently resides in Los Angeles where he owns and trains out of his studio, Lock Box Fitness & Performance Center.