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The New Normal: Functional Training

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Jenn Mosier of Anytime Fitness Perry Hall and David Wegrzyn of Chelsea Piers Connecticut share the importance of functional training during the new normal.

As the years have passed, many gyms have designed and implemented functional training spaces into their facilities. While already a popular program, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the true need for it. 

“Many people have been more sedentary than ever due to being at home with no equipment or guidance,” said Jenn Mosier, a co-owner of Anytime Fitness in Perry Hall, Maryland. “This is going to increase the need for people of all ages to get moving again. Many people may find their movement patterns aren’t the same and the need to functionally address those patterns will be higher than ever.”

While the coronavirus pandemic has shown the true need for functional training, it has also caused many side effects, such as how the training will be delivered. Mosier said if a client is still able to come in person to the gym, there will be restrictions on spacing not only between clients, but also on how close a coach can be to the client. 

“Clearly there will be no sharing of any equipment, so facilities will need to have multiples of each equipment piece to accommodate several clients working at one time,” explained Mosier. “Clients who are not yet comfortable with returning in person will be able to be serviced through virtual functional training. However, that will reduce the variety of equipment the client has to work with.”

Inside the club or at home, having the right equipment pieces for functional training is essential. 

Essential Equipment

David Wegrzyn, the club director of membership and training for Chelsea Piers Connecticut, said there are two key pieces of equipment your club needs. “Functional training is all about body mechanics and awareness of actual movements,” he said. “Two essential pieces of equipment are dumbbells and kettlebells, due to exercises that can be combined to mimic common daily movements.”

According to Mosier, Anytime Fitness has also relied heavily on the use of kettlebells. They can be used for functional movements like farmer’s walks and cardio movements like kettlebell swings that get your heart rate elevated while using the hinge motion — one of the primary functional movement patterns.

However, Mosier said they have found TRX suspension trainers to be one of the most beneficial tools when training functionally.

“TRX draws on core muscles, which are incredibly important in almost every movement we do during a day,” said Mosier. “Everything from shutting a door to picking up a heavy bag, the stronger your core, the easier and more fluid these movements become, which reduces your risk for injury.”

Besides suspension straps, Mosier said they have also found TRX weighted power bags to be popular with clients and coaches. The bag has straps that can be held from various angles, which allows trainers to design workouts and exercises that mimic many daily activities. 

“Additionally, resistance bands have also been an important piece of our functional training, especially during new normal when many clients were being trained virtually,” explained Mosier. “They are portable and affordable, and gave our coaches the ability to have clients work multiple muscle groups with limited equipment.”

Things to Consider

While functional training may seem like a no-brainer, there are things your club needs to keep in mind while working with members, such as the fact in the new normal, many members are working from home because of COVID-19. 

“Due to this change in lifestyle, functional training’s complex movements, or even basic movements, may be too much for them,” said Wegrzyn. “This can cause people to be less physically active and have more restrictions in their bodies than they did prior to COVID-19.”

Wegrzyn also warned your members’ physical abilities won’t be the only difference. COVID-19 will also change the environment for functional training. This requires trainers and operators to look at training differently.

“Due to the fact we need to wear masks during exercise, it causes a restriction in the air flow throughout the body and changes the person’s breathing technique while performing the movements,” explained Wegrzyn. “The weights that may have been part of their normal routine prior to COVID-19 should be adjusted to weights they can control while their body adapts to this restricted air flow.” 

Another thing to consider when offering functional training at your club is who you are marketing the program to.

“There is a misconception functional training is for older clientele or those coming off an injury,” said Mosier. “Functional training should be used with a variety of clients as it benefits your basic mobility, from seniors to beginners to elite athletes.”

Regardless if your club has been offering functional fitness for years or is just adding it, you must look at it through a different lens due to the effects of COVID-19 and the new normal. While it may be an adjustment, it is vital to continue to offer the training because of its benefits.

“Functional training is even more important in some ways than traditional weight training, because it prepares you for every day movements,” said Mosier. “No matter your age, functional training increases your performance and ability to move fluidly, and handle not only sports and performance tasks, but everyday tasks like carrying groceries, with more ease and less chance of injury.” 

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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