Your Western Racquet & Fitness Club Group Fitness Questions Answered

August 18, 2023

Kari Merrill

I’ve been teaching Group Fitness classes for close to 20 years and have always loved the creative part of teaching–from the programming to the music to the different ways you can piece everything together to create a fun and unique experience.

So when I was offered the Group Fitness Director job at Western in 2010, you can imagine my brain and my heart started exploding! Oh, the ideas I had! All of these creative ideas I had in my head for years were now going to have a place to grow! An entire schedule to build into something unique and fun for every kind of member at Western!

I was also incredibly excited to build a team. If you’re familiar with Group Fitness, you know that half of the fun is having a passionate and fun instructor. I couldn’t wait to mentor both experienced and brand-new instructors (like the many members-turned-instructor we’ve had over the years). I know I wanted a team that loved the freestyle, creative part of teaching as much as I did and would teach each class like they are hosting a party.

Fast forward many years, and here I am, still putting together a schedule every month that not only makes sense functionally but also is fun and ever-evolving with what’s new and exciting in the world of Group Fitness. The industry is always changing. New trends and formats can gain popularity quickly. Some have longevity, and some… well…do not. It’s always tough to decide what to bring, who to train, and how best to launch new programs. There’s a lot of thought that goes into every type of modality I bring to Western. Vetting new classes, thinking critically about how they will integrate into our current schedule, and understanding what our members are looking for are all part of the job, and with those criteria in mind, I’ve been able to build some amazing Group Fitness programs here at Western over the years (with the help of the many, many enthusiastic Group Fitness lovers at the club).

Today, I am so proud to say we offer over 70 classes each week and have a team of over 50 certified instructors! We value a solid foundation of education and back up each of our formats with continuing education and certification where needed.

But the best thing about Western’s Group Fitness classes? There truly is something for EVERYONE. We want every single type of person who joins a Group Fitness class to feel like they are welcome, have fun, and leave feeling successful.

The biggest piece of advice I want to offer up to someone brand new to Group Fitness or to anyone trying a new format: try it. And then try it again. And then try it again!

You would never expect to pick up an instrument and just play your favorite song, right? So why expect to master a Group Fitness class on day one? Give yourself time and patience with each new class you try, and remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about moving your body and having fun!

Still have some questions about Group Fitness at Western? Want a deeper look into the types of classes we have on the schedule?

Keep reading for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Group Fitness and a breakdown of the classes you see on the schedule.

Frequently Asked Questions: Group Fitness Edition

Q: Where do I find the Group Fitness schedule?

A: We try to make it easy for you, so we have three main places you can find the schedule: online at, in the Schedule section of the Western app, and as a hard copy schedule which can be found throughout the club.

Q: I’m new to Group Fitness. Will I be able to keep up?

A: YES! Our Group Fitness classes are designed to be enjoyed at all different levels of fitness. You can always modify any of the exercises done in class and take breaks when you need to. We promise no one is judging. Every single person in that room started at the very beginning too! Start slow if you want–come for the warm-up or just half the class. Let your instructor know you’re new to class, and take time to cool down and stretch afterward. Most importantly, just have fun! Our Group Fitness community is truly special, and we pride ourselves on being welcoming and having a great time, whether it’s your first class or your five hundredth one!

Q: Are Western group fitness classes free?

A: YES! All of our Group Fitness classes on the schedule except for those marked as “Premier Classes” are completely free with your Western membership!

Q: What is a Premier Class?

A: Our Premier Classes are small group training-style classes that offer a smaller, more focused approach to Group Fitness. We consider these specialty classes because of the limited class sizes, special equipment used, and additional certification of the instructors. These classes are also a great way to get familiar with some of the less commonly-used equipment at Western, like the water rowers, TRX straps, and heavy bags.

Our current Premier Classes on the schedule are TRX, Breathwork & Meditation, and Heavy Bag Burnout.

Q: How much do Premier Classes cost?

A: Premier Classes are $12/class, but we recommend buying a Premier Class package if you’ll be taking more than one. You can purchase a 5-pack, 10-pack, or 20-pack of classes that can be used to mix and match across all the different Premier Classes. And a bonus–they never expire! Purchase a Premier Class package through the Western app or stop by the Front Desk.

Q: Ummm…what is a S’hiit class?

A: Only one of the most fun types of classes on the schedule! Our S’hiit classes are a totally unique class that we created! S’hiit classes add an element of Strength and HIIT (high intensity interval training) to some of our most popular classes. It’s a fun fusion class that’s a great way to get cardio and strength training.

Try Boxing S’hiit on Mondays at 9:00am and Tuesdays at 5:10am, Step S’hiit on Tuesdays at 4:30pm and Wednesdays at 9:00am, and Cycling S’hiit every other Friday at 9:00am.

Q: What are branded format classes?

A: Branded formats are classes that aren’t created by Western, where certified instructors obtain the choreography and sometimes music from the company that created the class. The branded formats we have are Pumped Up Strength and Strong Nation. Fun fact: I am actually one of the creative programmers for Pumped Up Strength, so even in this branded format, you’re still getting a little Kario magic!

Q: What is a freestyle format class?

A: Freestyle means that the instructors create the class and provide the music. Each instructor makes sure their programming matches the description of the class and that every movement makes sense and can be modified for every level of fitness. All of our strength, yoga, barre, and cardio classes are created by our instructors! We think this adds a fun personal touch and offers tons of variety so you never get bored.

Q: Where can I find descriptions of each class?

A: You can find descriptions of all of our classes at or on the back of our hard copy schedule. (Download the September schedule here.)

Try a Group Fitness class this week

Taking Group Fitness classes is not only a great way to add a little fun and variety to your regular workout routine, it’s also a great place to meet others in our Western community.

So if you’ve been unsure about trying a Group Fitness class at Western, this is your sign! I promise that even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a “group fitness person,” there is a class on the schedule that you will LOVE.

And if you’re feeling a little nervous about your first class, we’ve got you covered with a built in buddy. Just reach out to our Membership Outreach Director, Staci Hayers, and she’ll set you up with a seasoned Western member who will be your personal sidekick in your chosen Group Fitness class, guiding you every step of the way, from prepping your gear and equipment to answering questions to rocking it out next to you in class.

Email Staci at to ask about pairing up with a We Connect buddy today!

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