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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.