Contact | +44(0)1553 763285 | |

Supply exceeds demand. But not for long…


Only a few months ago certain figures within the industry were suggesting that 'functional' fitness was merely a fad that would fizzle out and disappear. As you may or may not be aware, GYMetrix have recently revealed figures demonstrating that 'functional' spaces are not quite as popular as anticipated. We are seeing many gyms buying into it and installing functional areas, but GYMetrix's founder goes as far as stating that 'when gyms first put them in, the demand is zero. It's a push trend, not a pull trend, and it won't grow without intervention'.


I am a huge fan of functional areas so when I first read this report I disagreed, but on reflection this is actually a very good point. Functional fitness is definitely a push trend rather than a pull trend. Masses of gym members are not begging for these areas because on the whole they just don't understand the difference between one style of training or another. Therefore the leaders within the industry have no choice but to push the trend upon people rather than waiting for the demand. The demand will never come until the general public understand what they actually need, as oppose to what they want.


Implementing change is a difficult thing, especially as human beings tend to like simple tasks that they can do on auto-pilot, so introducing a new method of training that involves thinking is going to be tough – but if your team can do the thinking for them then that is part of the problem solved.


The key to effectively increasing the demand comes down to staff intervention. It is absolutely imperative that fitness professionals are continuously upskilling themselves in the relevant areas. Attending courses and learning from 'experts' will give gym instructors and personal trainers the tools to explain to members WHY functional fitness methods are more advantageous and teach them HOW they can take advantage of these spaces.


Once a functional area is installed the staff have to encourage use of the space. This can be done through inductions, small group sessions, gym floor classes, posters, social media posts etc. If your staff aren't confident enough to do this then contact me to arrange a Functional Fitness Workshop ASAP ( and you can ensure that your investment on functional equipment has not been wasted, and more importantly you can make a healthy return on your investment.


As experts and industry leaders we may be 'pushing' this trend upon people, but it's only because we know best – what’s best for the member and the facility owner.


This isn't the first time that a product has been 'pushed' by innovators who foresee a brighter future for us all. Henry Ford famously said that if he asked people what they needed they would have replied - "faster horses". I rest my case.

Read more

Functional Fitness is just a fad?

In 1943 the Chairman of IBM, Thomas Watson, quoted "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers". A conservative estimate considering these days many of us have five each in some capacity or another.

History is littered with predictions of the failure of concepts, ideas and inventions. In 1878 British Parliament referred to light bulbs as "good enough for our transatlantic friends but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men". In 1904 Marshal Ferdinand Foch stated "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value". In 1926 Lee De Forest declared television was "an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming". In 2005 Sir Allan Sugar insisted, "by next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput".

I know that is a long winded way to make a point, but it is a point that needs to be hammered home in light of certain sectors of our industry questioning whether functional fitness is a just a 'fad'. Referring to something as a fad implies that it will be popular for a period of time, usually a short period, until something more bizarre and quirky and well marketed comes along to take our affection. Then our old 'fad' fades into insignificance as thenew 'Vibro 2000 Ab Blaster'...or 'Pilloxing'...become the apple of the fitness industry's eye.

So, according to some, functional fitness is a fad and therefore sooner or later it is going to disappear. Good luck with that.

Naysayers beware, you may need to reconsider. After all, how do those shoes get on your feet every day? No matter what your technique is there is an element of 'functional' movement involved. How did you manage to play with your children at the weekend? 'Functional' training again no doubt. Carried your own shopping bags? Walked up some stairs? Ever thrown a ball? All are 'functional' movements.

By way of its nature functional fitness training is based upon natural human movements that have been used for hunting, gathering, fighting, recreation and maybe even procreation. For hundreds, thousands, arguably millions of years man has been developing the very useful arts of pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, dragging and wrestling with others. If you can call 'since the dawn of time' a fad, then functional fitness is guilty of being a fad.  

They were wrong about computers. Wrong about light bulbs. Wrong about airplanes. Wrong about iPods. Wrong about Lance Armstrong. And wrong about functional fitness training.

Still think functional fitness training is just a fad? Ask Eugene Sandow, and he will probably tell you that you are talking a load of old Pilloxing.

Read more

The lifespan of a PT

Ever since I can remember my Dad told me to choose a career that I enjoy because I would have to do it for a loooong time. Well, I like telling people what to do. I like travelling to new places. I don’t like wearing trousers. And I get bored very easily. So it’s lucky that I stumbled into the fitness industry eight years ago. It’s the industry that has sent me all over the world; allowed me to tell phenomenal athletes what to do. It’s an industry that doesn’t judge me because I wear shorts far too often and is so fast paced it is difficult even for someone with the shortest of attention spans to get bored.

So why is it that so many fitness professionals have such short working life spans? Surely nobody in their right mind would CHOOSE to leave the most exciting industry in the world to embark on a life-long ambition to work in…HR. Or Accounts. Or Auditing. Or….sorry, I literally nodded off for a few seconds just typing that.

Let’s not beat around the bush. People are leaving our beloved industry because, despite the fact they love their job, they just aren’t earning enough money. Safe, boring jobs pay regular money each month, cover all your bills and allow you to join everyone else in the world who has a countdown to the weekend that starts about 10.30am every Monday.

Why aren’t they earning enough money? It’s possibly because they aren’t good enough, but probably because they aren’t managing themselves effectively.

Anyone who keeps up to date with their cheesy philosophical motivational quotes will know about KAIZEN, the Japanese word for continuous improvement. If you don’t know about it and can’t see the relevance to the fitness industry, then I wish you all the best in your new job as an ‘Office Administrator’.

So, what separates the industry leaders from the drop-outs? There are obvious things like differences in character and maybe style of delivery, but, in my opinion, nothing can be more important than the content.

Education should be a priority for everyone wanting to have a successful career in the fitness industry. Not only is it a good idea in order to know what you are talking about, but it’s also an industry requirement to acquire CPD points and prove that you are developing your ability.

In my current role as Training Academy Manager for Jordan Fitness, I have a huge responsibility to reduce the number of enthusiastic trainers who are being forced to leave their ‘dream’ job to become 9-5 desk junkies. Our Results Based Training (RBT) System ( is designed to guide someone thorough every stage of setting up a successful fitness facility; but even just for a self-employed PT with a boot full of kettlebells,  our Training Academy is a vital resource.

Take it from somebody who has been there and done it and spent weeks eating rice and gravy because that’s all I could afford – your education is crucial and could mean the difference between wearing shorts or trousers to work every day. The more you learn, the greater chance you have of earning an income from doing something you would consider doing for free.

During my time working with professional football clubs there was a popular saying that has stuck with me and hopefully will stick with you – “If you stand still, you will be moving backwards”.

Visit our website or contact me regarding any education queries.

Whatever you do - don’t stand still!

Read more

How does YOUR functional space stand out?

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years you will be fully aware that the industry has undergone a huge transition. Row upon row of two-dimensional isolation machines targeting each individual muscle are (thankfully) becoming a thing of the past. No longer do you need an entire sheet of A4 just to write your training programme. Gone are the days of having to take an afternoon off work to fit each machine in before bed time.


Nowadays, you need a 'functional' area where members can perform exaggerated 'natural' human movements. So, by getting a functional area all of your problems will be solved, right?


Wrong, because everyone has got one. Every major gym chain is sitting comfortably upon the functional fitness bandwagon, and there are more independent facilities popping up than ever before - in spite of the fact that we are seeing the worst economic situation for decades. Not to mention the thousands of personal trainers who work from the boot of their cars meaning they save on their overheads, but still provide a great service without the client needing a gym membership.


Your functional space needs to stand out more than ever. In order to make that happen, there are two really simple and obvious things it needs. Indeed, so simple that you will kick yourself if you haven’t guessed them.


Your functional space needs to be a) FUNCTIONAL, and it needs plenty of b) SPACE.


The key to achieving both of these things is having a creative, innovative team, and a well planned lay-out. In my personal opinion you want to have as much floor space as possible. This allows numerous PTs to be seen using the space at once and, gives you the option of teaching group fitness classes and group PT sessions. Plus, the more space there is, the bigger the range of exercises you can introduce. In order to get the most space, you need to be clever with the equipment you have and the way you position and store everything. Get rid of a few treadmills if you have to. Get rid of a lot of treadmills ideally. The more people utilising your functional space, the better. The more different things they can do, the more they will enjoy the experience...and the more friends and family they are likely to recommend to your facility.


Finally, never underestimate the importance of creativity. Functional equipment is fun compared to using machines, but the novelty can soon wear off if it's too repetitive. You must have access to dozens of exercises for each piece of kit, always have a trick up your sleeve to make an exercise harder or easier and use your imagination when it comes to planning sessions.


Encourage your team to constantly up-skill themselves, preferably from reputable, REPs accredited sources and not just YouTube. A good training team who are likeable and provide fun sessions will have new members queuing at your door. 


Follow me on twitter for ideas @marklaws2011 and @jordanfitnessuk.

Read more

Functional Training with Soft Plyometric Boxes

The new Soft Plyometric Boxes are a fantastic new addition to the range of performance functional equipment. So, with more and more trainers and clubs using them, what are they actually used for and what are the benefits to the user and trainer?


Speed-Strength and Reactive Strength

Soft Plyometric Boxes are can be used to improve Speed-Strength, which is the maximum force the body can produce in the shortest possible time. A subsection of Speed-Strength is Reactive Strength, which is the ability to change quickly and efficiently from an eccentric (loading phase) to a concentric contraction (muscle shortening phase). The more efficient the athlete can utilise these forces pushing the body in one direction, to change and accelerate the body in another direction, the higher they will be able to jump, bound and run. And, the more agile they will be.

These new boxes are perfect for use with gym users, athletes and even children because it will decrease the stress on the joints when landing, as opposed to harder surfaces. For many athletes and everyday clients, one of the potential downloads with plyometrics and jump training is the volume of stress going through the foot, ankle, knees and hips. Soft Plyometric Boxes decrease that problem. If you want to develop power, reactive strength or (like Crossfitters) you just want to overload the cardiorespiratory system with multiple jumps, then these are perfect for you. Plus if you do ‘miss’ your jump, falling onto a soft plyometric box is much kinder than a harder platform….


Some of the most popular exercises are:


Lateral Box Drives

  • Stand to the side of the soft plyometric box and place your near foot on top
  • Push down explosively onto the box and drive the body upwards into the air
  • Control the landing using the same leg (still on top of the box) and repeat for 20 seconds on each leg


Jumps onto the Box

  • Stand on the floor in front of the soft plyometric box about 1-2 feet away depending on the height
  • Jump onto the box, using both the legs with help from the arms
  • Control the landing , trying to land as softly as possible, step back down and repeat for 20-40 seconds


Lateral Hops onto the Box

  • Stand sideways on to the soft plyometric box, and stand on one leg (the near leg is easier to start)
  • Hop explosively onto the box and stabilise upon landing
  • Step back down and repeat for 20 seconds on each leg
Read more
Back to Top