Earn Additional Health Club Revenue by Offering Training for Obstacle Races

A recreational revolution is sweeping the nation that provides an opportunity for revenue growth. If you have not heard of or participated in an obstacle course race, it is only a matter of time before you receive an invitation to run, crawl and climb over obstacles and through the mud.

Traditionally, road runs and triathlons have been the measure of fitness among friends. Now, obstacle races like Tough Mudder have emerged as the preferred sporting arena for weekend warriors, general fitness seekers and former athletes. Instead of participating in a local 5k as a means of getting fit or socializing with friends, an increasing number of people are turning to obstacle racing for their fitness and amusement fix.

As participation in obstacle racing continues to rise, so too does the demand for training programs to help prepare for them. Following this step-by-step guide will help you corner the market for the obstacle race training niche and help generate new revenue streams, attract new members and increase member participation in fitness programs.

Obstacle racing is different than the average 5k, 10k or marathon. They are adventure races with mud, muck and military style obstacles. Participants sprint, climb, jump, crawl and, in some instances, swim. There is a race out there for everyone with varied levels of difficulty with respect to distance, obstacles and competitiveness. Depending on goals and fitness level, some of the races are simply parties among friends while others are grueling tests of physical and mental toughness.

Before putting together a training team for a local event, familiarize yourself with the type of event it will be along with the race course, various obstacles and components of the event. Preparing yourself with the appropriate knowledge of events and obstacles allows you to guide clients through the entire obstacle course race process from registration, to training and on to competition.

Next, conduct an inventory of the exercise equipment you have available for your training program. Make sure you have some non-traditional training tools, such as kettlebells, weighted sandbags, tractor tires, a weighted vest and a push/pull sled. If space and ceiling height are not issues, consider adding a pair of gymnastics rings and/or a climbing rope.

Try to secure a location outside of the gym to conduct training sessions, perhaps with an off-road running and hiking trail or a local park. Training outdoors prepares clients for the elements they will encounter during obstacle course races.


Here is how to make it work:

Logistics: Once you have secured training equipment and found an outdoor training site, choose an upcoming obstacle course race in the area. Contact the race promoter to create a team or group for the race. This will help with organization and could lead to a discount code or rebates for group registration. Once the registration process is in place, create a detailed training plan that is easily followed and understood by potential participants. Create some excitement around the facility by promoting the race and your training program and then hosting a launch party. Hold free demonstration workouts that allow members to sample the type of training you will be conducting. After this introductory period, develop small group, boot camp or circuit style trainings of five to 10 individuals. Training sessions should be planned over the course of 8 to 10 weeks leading up to the race.

Training: A successful training program for obstacle course racing should include running and strength training, while addressing skills specific to the race. Focus on functional and dynamic movements that will assist in building relative strength. Competitors need to be able to move their own bodyweight over, under, around or through obstacles. Bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, triceps dips, pull-ups and squats, can be used to create a foundation of strength. Next, kettlebell swings and explosive movements like jump squats, burpees and box jumps will help improve balance and leg strength.

To prepare for the cardiovascular component of the race, incorporate resisted sprints, hill climbs or stadium stairs into the training program. Finally, target race-specific skills by preparing participants to transport an awkward or heavy object, or improve grip strength by practicing rope climbs. Wearing a weighted vest during training, carrying a weighted pack or using kettlebells to complete a farmer’s carry will be essential to building specialty skills.

Obstacle racing is a fun experience that can serve as motivation to get in shape or satisfy people’s need for competition. By participating in these programs with a creative program and marketing, your fitness facility and trainers can generate new revenue streams, increase member satisfaction and attract new members.


Joe Vennare is the co-founder of Hybrid Athlete and co-creator of Race Day Domination, a training manual designed to prepare competitors for success in any obstacle course race.

Suggested Articles:

Before you reopen your health club’s doors, take some time to consider these three strategies that may help you future-proof your business.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is presenting every fitness business with a unique set of obstacles. The degree to which each business will struggle

Keeping an eye on the trends affecting an industry is a top priority for most business owners, which is why Club Industry has put together this new...