Virtually every club and national operator is becoming aware of the benefits, versatility and importance of a functional training area within their facilities. They know that club members are now expecting to see areas with kettlebells, sandbags, suspension systems and a variety of other 'funky' equipment, just as they expect to see areas for cardiovascular training, freeweights and stretching. It is quickly becoming much more of a standard expectation, when prospects are looking around the club, as they have seen these areas being used on programmes like the Biggest Loser.
Many of the clubs and national operators are trying to keep up with their competitors to ensure they continue to attract new members and retain current ones with investment in modern trends in functional equipment. However, it can difficult for managers or purchasers to know what type of functional equipment is most suitable. Your client demographic and what type of training they will want to perform; as well as whether you wish to run small group training sessions will help to dictate both the layout and equipment requirements for your area.
For example, let’s say you run a club that has a large student membership and the athletic clubs, such as football, rugby, netball and hockey, will want to use it for their sessions. You would want to have one or more weightlifting platforms with elite bars and bumper plates so they can perform the Olympic lifts that the strength coaches will be advocating. Some 'normal' clubs may have these as well but it is more unusual (it also requires that the staff had received adequate training on to both coach and demonstrate these lifts). If you want suspension training systems, do you opt for gymnastic rings, with are more cost effective but a little more restrictive on the exercises that can be performed, or one of the more modern designs, such as a MiloKit or Jungle Gym XT? Well, if your users perform CrossFit style sessions and exercises, like the muscle up, they would prefer Gym Rings, whilst most other users would prefer one of the other systems. Then what about the anchoring points - wall/ceiling anchors / A-frames / Functional Training Rigs? Again, it would depend on space, what type of ceilings/walls and height restrictions, and whether you would like the space to be multipurpose, such as doubling up as squat racks, in which case a more expensive functional rig would be a better use of the space than an A-frame.
Like most areas, there are a lot of considerations about what to put in there, where to place it, cost restrictions, space limitations and training requirements. Consulting with one of the functional suppliers who can discuss your needs, advise on best layouts and equipment and produce a 3-D image or fly-through of your functional area will help to ensure that you are investing correctly and wisely and the space will be used as much as you wish for both unsupervised, personal training and small group exercise.
Allan Collins, Director of Education, Jordan Fitness