For the last 10 years, functional fitness has featured in the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual predictions of the top 20 worldwide fitness trends. In the organisation's predictions for 2017 it ranks at number 12. Not only is functional fitness a trending topic, so is high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, bodyweight training and group personal training, all which can be undertaken within the functional zone on the gym floor.
The prevalence of these trends has led to functional training zones and functional training rigs, like our very own Tesseract, making their way into gyms up and down the country. However the growth of functional training is still widely believed to be a push trend not a pull trend and the risk then is that all the great equipment that you’ve invested in rarely gets used.
If you just sit back and wait for members to cotton on, chances are that your training rig will become nothing more than an architectural feature in your club.
The cure is so simple and so effective but it is essential to ensuring that your rig is well used. The answer is training and education.
Whatever rig you invest in, make sure that all your personal trainers are up to speed on how to use all the attachments and accessories and how to develop different programmes for all ages and abilities. Functional equipment can offer members endless variety of exercises to help them meet their goals but it’s not as intuitive as getting on a bike or on a treadmill. CV and resistance machines have both been around for such a long time and so many people know how to use them. It’s easy for people to stay in their comfort zone and keep doing what they’ve always done just because they feel safe.
You need knowledgeable and confident trainers to break the cycle (no pun intended) and start showing members how they can use this exciting new equipment to revolutionise their work out. Make sure your training provider works with you and your staff to develop a range of programmes and reference materials that can be used on an ongoing basis to drive uptake and regular usage of the training rig.
There is no harm in getting your supplier to provide additional training 6, 9, 12 months down the line. After all, people are always coming up with new ways to exercise and personal training staff regularly change too. Refresher training will help to keep your staff motivated and help to maintain momentum.
Marketing is also a key component of educating your members. It might sound stupid but make sure your members know that you have a functional training rig, what it is and what the benefits are for them. Why not run some free classes to get people involved or get a group of personal trainers together to use the rig in a mock training session during peak time to raise interest and awareness.
The earlier you start thinking about how to educate your staff and your members the better. The supplier of your rig and training should be able to work with you before the rig is even installed to give you ideas and resources that will make sure that you ready to educate, inspire and motivate right from day one.