Let them eat cake later: Americans hosting "fitness parties"

Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:15am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From spinning birthday celebrations to pole dancing bachelorette bashes, U.S. gyms are offering fitness parties as new way to mark life's milestones - with a few friends and a good sweat.

Gyms and fitness studios are often eager to host the festivities, which light up darkened rooms after hours and expose potential new members to their services.

"We've created bachelorette parties, birthday parties, college reunions and divorce parties," said Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming at Crunch, a national chain.

Pole dancing parties are among the most-requested fitness parties, and the merrymakers are overwhelmingly young women in their 20s and 30s.

"The class is a reason for friends to get together and shed inhibitions for an hour," Cyrus explained, "as well as a great marketing tool and clever use of idle space for the gym."

Fitness and yoga instructor Magen Banwart has led workout get-togethers from South Carolina to the Hamptons in New York.

She said it's a way to distinguish herself from other teachers in a very competitive market.

"For the right price you can get anyone to go anywhere and teach anything," said New York-based Banwart, who has led classes in yoga, core, barre and walk workouts during gatherings and retreats.   Continued...

Runners wearing masks of U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney (L) work out on a treadmill as part of a fitness promotion in New York, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford