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Why Offer Functional Fitness?


For years everyone has recognized the growing trend of functional training and full body fitness. We now know these aren’t just fads and that these fitness concepts are here to stay. But, what is motivating people to move away from sculpting their bodies for the mirror, towards building overall strength?

We can find the answer to that core question by looking at some interesting research from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). The OIA publishes an annual report on outdoor participation among the American public. Year after year Americans report that outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking and camping are more popular than sports, leisure activities, and even fitness.

In the latest report we find that nearly half of all Americans (48.4 percent) have participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2015. This should not worry people in the fitness industry, most people are not going to cancel their gym memberships and become hardcore outdoor athletes. What it does show is an excellent growth opportunity and an explanation behind the enduring interest in functional fitness.

A key aspect to the OIA’s report is “aspirational participation” — a measure of non-participants’ interest in specific outdoor recreation, sports, fitness and leisure activities. Many people are exercising with the hope of gaining the strength and confidence for their outdoor pursuits. If we put this concept to use in a fitness gym we can enhance our programs, more effectively select what equipment we purchase, and better serve our client’s needs.

When it comes to building a solid functional training program it is important to keep these elements in mind and offer programs and equipment that feed into your member’s motivations. You should have the types of exercise that leave your members feeling like they are ready to fulfill their dreams.

Some of the fastest growing outdoor activities are rock climbing, mountaineering, and adventure racing (5 percent to 10 percent over 3 years). Most traditional fitness gyms lack the type of full body vertical movement found in these activities. Machines or equipment that allow for vertical movement offer an effective workout, while at the same time empower people to feel like they can accomplish their outdoor goals.

When choosing this kind of equipment for your gym you should look for machines that allow users to adjust as many settings as possible. The vertical movement of climbing walls is ideal since you can change the difficulty of the grip, the climbing speed, and the angle and intensity of the climbing surface. With a well set up climbing wall you can offer exercises for people of any athletic ability and at any fitness level.

Another great option would be one of the several ladder machines available today. These are slightly easier to use than a traditional climbing wall, since the hands and feet are always on the same surface. With this type of equipment you still get the vertical movement found in climbing and other outdoor activities so users still get to work towards their aspirations.

By completing your functional fitness offerings with vertical movement you will be keeping members engaged and helping them to meet their loftiest goals.


Garnet Moore is the COO at Brewer Fitness. He can be reached at garnet@treadwall.com or visit brewerfitness.com.

Garnet Moore

Garnet Moore is the COO at Brewer Fitness. He can be reached at garnet@treadwall.com or visit brewerfitness.com.

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1 Comment

  1. scott October 6, 2016

    sorry to say that this article is mostly hot air,but i understand the appeal of its general point. The public has really embraced and responded well to the idea that functional movements are the most beneficial to everyday movements;and its absolutely great for business as well.
    Unfortunately,its all a HUGE distraction from what science has been correctly telling us (NOone listening). There is the age-old expression that “the only way to improve your overall (functional) fitness and your ability to avoid injury,is to become STRONGER,first”.
    Somewhere along the way,in the past several years,a person with apparently zero fitness experience,decided to start spreading the myth that the only way to train to be more functional in life and be better prepared for a 3 dimensional world,is to DO 3 dimensional things.”
    WOW!, does that sound just perfect or what?? again,a MYTH. That marketing hot air went further on to create more terrible confusion by suggesting that machines and free weights dont help much with our so-called 3 dimensional world because you can only train in 2 dimensions;again,MORE absolute nonsense!
    The truth is: when you safely and constructively overload your muscles,tendons,ligaments and your entire musculoskeletal system with full range of motion resistance based exercise,you consistently BUILD strength in ALL the tissue that make up those structures,THUS training your body,optimally, to be better prepared for ALL physical activity in your life. Bone health/mass/density??,critical to avoiding osteoporosis later in life>>> MUCH better,more safely, improved with full range of motion,resistance training.
    Everything else..is just subjecting your entire body to unnecessary,random stress,strain,uneven and dangerous forces,and instills an exercise philosophy and thinking that is not consistent with a sound fitness ethic or understanding of proper resistance training principles and their superior benefits- when instructed correctly.



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