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.