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Functional training, or training that prepares you for life and sport, has been growing in popularity among all demographic segments. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recently named functional fitness as one of the fastest growing activities across a variety of fitness facilities. With the growing popularity of functional fitness among both exercisers and operators, you might be wondering what the opportunities are for your facility and members. Below is a quick primer on functional fitness and how it can benefit and grow your fitness facility.
What is functional fitness?
Functional fitness, also known as functional training, is training for life. It involves performing integrative movements that enhance an individual’s performance in daily life or sport. Functional movement patterns develop coordination, strength, core and mobility, and they engage exercisers by regularly varying the training tools and environment to produce results.
What are the benefits to operators of offering functional fitness?
Whether you operate a franchise fitness location, independent club, university fitness center, Y or even a medically based wellness center, there is a functional training option that will help your members achieve balance in their daily lives. One of the major benefits of functional training systems is that they can adapt to fit virtually any space.
In addition to looking for an adaptable training solution, most operators are looking for ways to drive additional revenue within their facilities and functional training systems offer a great way to do that. With a functional training system, personal trainers can run small group functional fitness classes in one area, while another trainer can do physical therapy or suspension training in another area. When functional training systems are in play, the opportunity to create additional revenue streams is endless.
Finally, functional training systems can help to differentiate your facility from competitors in the area. The eye-catching design of functional training systems give any facility an aesthetic edge that invites members to experience functional training for themselves.
What are the benefits of functional fitness for exercisers?
Functional training is a good training solution for almost any exerciser since it helps them reinforce and better execute real life movements. By providing functional training as part of your fitness facility’s offering, you can appeal to a wider range of exercisers, which in turn can attract and retain new members. Here are a few real life examples of how functional training can help an exerciser:
- New Moms: New moms are often moving through multiple planes of motion at different speeds as they transfer their infants from changing tables, to the crib and back. Functional training helps new moms practice multi-planar movements that vary movement and load, which is critical to avoiding back injury and fatigue during that fun newborn period.
- Office Workers: The body was not designed to sit at desks eight hours a day, five days a week, so for the office worker, functional training can help enforce proper posture and core engagement that can help to prevent repeated use injuries that often arise from desk work.
- Mud Runners: For those who like to fill their weekends with activities such as crawling through mud and climbing over walls, functional training is a great option for building strength, muscle coordination and stability that will help exercisers complete tough adventure races.
How do I determine which functional training solution is right for my facility?
Each facility’s needs are unique, but a few guidelines will help you choose the best functional training solution.
1. Get your member's input: Before you start the process of adding a functional training space to your facility, determine what kind of functional training your members want by conducting a survey. Potential questions include: Are you interested in small group classes that incorporate suspension training? Would you be interested in physical therapy or one-on-one training sessions that incorporate balance and resistance training?
2. Determine your space’s limitations and your members' needs: It’s important to find the system that fits your space and offers the functionality that your members are looking for. For instance, if you find that your members want to do small group suspension training, it’s important to find a functional training system that will fit in your space and has the ability to support 10 to 12 suspension trainers.
3. Visualize your new space: Once you've made the informed decision to add a functional training system to your space, it’s important to get an idea of what it will look like within your space. Most functional training system providers offer virtual space planning programs that will provide a good idea of what the system will look like within your space.
Pete Borchert is the senior product manager, strength at Precor. The Queenax functional training system, which recently became part of fitness solutions provider Precor, has a variety of configurations that can be adapted to fit any size space and accommodate any exercise activity.