Additional Insights from Professionals on Functional Fitness
Here are two tips for utilizing functional fitness accessories in your facility:
1. The use of accessories for functional training has never been so popular. In part, this is because of the “fun” that it brings to fitness, as it incorporates an element of play. The number of accessories is always expanding and by the time most members feel emboldened enough to try one thing, the early adopters will be on to the next “hot” accessory training technique. Facilities should look for equipment that is capable of expandable storage in order to plan for tomorrow. They should also consider the types of storage that is available on functional training systems. For instance, some systems boast storage for hanging battle ropes, keeping them off the floor and preventing tripping hazards.
2. Many different types of functional training systems are available that make use of these functional accessories. Facilities should consider the size and shape of the area they have available for functional training, and plan ahead for expansion. Some systems can be customized to fit into square areas, long narrow areas or along a wall or corner. Clubs should look for systems that can be scaled up as participation grows, or reconfigured to fit a different area, should the facility layout change. They should also be aware that many of these accessories require more floor space than the footprint of the system they are used on. Battle ropes, for instance, can require up to 25 square feet of space. Some manufacturers take these factors into consideration and design the systems so that anchor points are strategically located inside the machine, making the best use of the floor space.
Wall balls, battle ropes and suspension training devices are all great tools that can be easily incorporated into group training. Functional training should incorporate movement in multiple planes using multiple joints. Members will benefit most from high intensity functional training that includes a cardiorespiratory response. The wall ball exercise, which is largely a front squat and push-press combination, is a perfect example of functional training. Some equipment supports wall ball targets that will prevent damaging facilities’ walls.
In the past, much of what was deemed to be functional exercise were specialized exercises closely linked to rehabilitation and physical therapy. The notion of accessories for this type of training was largely thought of as something that you do with a Swiss Ball or rubber bands. With more emphasis on high intensity training and more high-level athletes embracing this type of training, the accessories have become more performance orientated. The rise and popularity of CrossFit has shown that the accountability and social aspects that group training brings to fitness have driven clubs and accessory manufacturers to focus on devices that are well suited to be used in groups.
Tom Baumler is the director of product management and marketing for Torque Fitness. He can be reached at email@example.com or 763.754.7533.
Here are three tips for utilizing functional fitness accessories in your facility:
1. Functional fitness accessories should be just that, functional. We physically move in various planes of motion such as pushing, pulling and rotating. Functional accessories provide a way to simulate or mimic those daily activities with increased levels of intensity. At first glance these items may appear to be for athletes only, but the benefits apply to all ages and fitness levels.
2. Unlike heavy weight machines, treadmills or other large pieces, functional fitness accessories require very little space and can easily be stored away for safe keeping. Traditionally, clubs have to add additional square footage to their facility in order to offer new classes. More and more club owners are now using these portable accessories to take advantage of existing and under-utilized spaces.
3. Functional fitness offers more bang for the buck! Statistics show that clients that participate in group settings tend to stay engaged with the club, which functional exercise is ideal for. This equates to increased member retention. For example, racquetball courts and spacious parking lots are prime spaces to offer a quick 30 minute bootcamp. With most products offering carry straps and bags, setup and teardown of the circuit is hassle-free.
Many clubs are moving towards the use of suspension training rigs. The standard features usually include monkey bars, step-up platforms and chin up bars, but also integrate standard functional equipment such as medicine balls, training ropes, plyo-boxes and suspension trainers. Instructors and trainers can recreate real-world movements using these tools, to add variety to their routines and keep their clients guessing.
Training ropes and even kettlebells have been around for years, but were used by a select few trainers in the fitness industry up until recent years. Now you see them advertised daily on television and regular consumer magazines as the source for high-level fitness.
This is evident in trending programs such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and CrossFit-style classes, where accessories are the key component. We feel the evolution has come from more mainstream awareness, as well as lots of very creative fitness professionals that are finding new ways to elevate their clients’ fitness levels. For example, a stability ball with added weight using ballast or water completely changes the uses of that once “core-only” tool. The beauty of functional fitness accessories is that their uses are only limited by the creativity of the trainer or the club.
Jason Eason is the VP of Sales for Power Systems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865.862.7896.