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Virgin Active strategy hinges on sense of community, says first head of group exercise

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People are living healthier and more active lifestyles. We want to offer programmes that are entertaining and challenging – a bit of everything for everyone
– Israel Rivera, head of group exercise, Virgin Active

Israel Rivera has spoken of his plans to foster a “sense of belonging and camaraderie” at Virgin Active's UK clubs, after becoming the operator's first head of group exercise.

Rivera told Health Club Management that cycling, barre and yoga would continue to be “at the forefront” of Virgin Active's strategy, with “a lot of energy” being put into its mind and body classes to create a holistic experience for members.

The American, who has relocated to the UK from his hometown of New York City, said the opportunity to work for the operator was too good to turn down.

“They made it irresistible for me not to take the position,” he said. “This was my opportunity to be part of a global brand and part of a revolution in global fitness – I want to pave the way for innovation in fitness, health and wellbeing.

"What I think we do, and what we'll continue to do, is forge and foster a sense of community. It's about gaining that sense of belonging and camaraderie.

“As well as a community, we want to offer consistency in the quality that our customers expect."

As reported last month, Virgin Active appointed Rivera in the newly-created group exercise role from Town Sports International in New York, where he was interim senior director of group exercise.

His role underlines the brand’s commitment to group exercise across its 44 clubs in the UK. It recently launched Ro, a group rowing class, and Run Tribe, a treadmill session.

Rivera added: “People are living healthier and more active lifestyles. We want to offer programmes that are entertaining and challenging – a bit of everything for everyone. I want us to be irresistible in terms of the exercise we offer our members.

“I also want to make it irresistible so people come and work for us. I want Virgin Active to be the place to be for their careers.”

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The first head of group exercise at Virgin Active has spoken of his plans to foster a “sense of belonging and camaraderie” at the operator's UK clubs.
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Cycling will continue to be at the forefront of the operator's strategy / Virgin Active
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