Functional fitness continues to be in the Top Fitness Trends according to the annual ACSM Worldwide Fitness Trends Survey. This year it moved up to the #5 in the Top Fitness Trends ranking. Strength training moved up to #2 in the Top Fitness Trends, which illustrates the value fitness participants place on living a healthier life, especially after COVID.
According to the ACSM, "functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform the activities of daily living."
You can offer functional training in a traditional group fitness class or you can run small group personal training (another top 10 Trend) for a more personalized training experience. The benefits include a more personalized experience for members, motivation from the trainer and other group members, greater accountability, increased results, and more revenue.
In an age of information overload. People don’t want to think about what is right and wrong and write up their own training. They've got enough to think about outside of your facility.
They want results with a personalized program and professional guidance on how to do it. They also want it in a fun, inviting and motivating atmosphere that allows them to do more than run on a treadmill watching the news. In small group training, you have motivation and accountability from the instructor, but the group you work out with also provides an additional layer of motivation and accountability.
In order to be successful with a functional fitness program, it does take an investment. An investment of time, money, space and resources, but the return on investment is well worth your time.
A dedicated space where they can train like an athlete, be a part of a team, and actually see the results they expect from going to your gym.
With boutique facilities becoming more and more mainstream and offering solutions rather than services, it is a necessity for large facilities to create the same experience surrounded by proper programming and a motivating community.
If you perfect the following four facility design factors into your fitness center, you’ll have a solid program to bring in new revenue and truly delight your member base.
Four Factors for Designing a Functional Fitness Facility
This is the biggest concern when we talk to facilities, yet the easiest to overcome. “Guys, we don’t have the space.” Or do you?
If we looked at a heat map of most facilities, you would be surprised how little certain machines are ever used. Even if you sit in the minority and every piece of equipment gets equal love, most gym set ups are inefficient. If we did a basic mapping of what an efficient functional design could look like, we would find plenty of space for a functional space. Check out the article on Optimizing a Functional Training Space
In layman’s terms - You have the space, we just have to look for it.
The best part about this is that you don’t have to tear down walls, create a special room, or do a complete build out.
Functional Fitness Space Recommendations
1. Base space on 50-75 square feet per member
2. Have small group sessions with usually 10 members or less
3. Total space needed is 500 - 750 square feet for the functional fitness area
"I wanted to create a space where everyone felt like an athlete when they walked in..... whether they are somebody coming in to get fit for the first time ever or a high level athlete"
- Emily Hutchins, On Your Mark Studios -
Attaching VertiMax Raptors to your racks will provide an explosive training area that doesn't take up any additional floor space. Coaches and trainers will no longer have to hold bands behind athletes and can now walk around their athlete and provide the necessary cues to help their athletes reach max potential. Use your racks to take your plyometrics training to another level!
Great, we found the space, now what do we put in it? Functional fitness is defined as exercise that prepares you for everyday life. If we want to break it down to bare bones, it prepares you to reach up to put your cereal away or squat down to pick up a piece of paper off the floor. That being said, you’re equipment is not going to be reams of paper and cereal boxes.
If you’ve ever been in a big box fitness center or a smaller boutique fitness facility, you’ll usually notice some similar equipment in the functional space including: Turf, Kettlebells, Barbells, Weight Plates, Plyo Boxes, Battle Ropes, Tires, Bands, Medicine Balls, Sleds, Agility ladders, and athletic specific training equipment such as the VertiMax V8 Platforms or the VertiMax Raptor.
You can use a combination of VertiMax equipment to make an amazing functional training space.
VertiMax V8 platforms can train up to 5 people at a time. They can be moved when space is not in use.
VertiMax Raptors allow up to 2 people training on the device at the same time. You can put two Raptors side-by-side on mounting devices at one end of ar turf zone. Two Raptors allow you to have up to four people training at the same time depending on exercise selection. If your facility doesn’t have a turf zone, you can still use the Raptor around your gym floor because we can mount it on a mobile mounting device, a wall, a sled, a fence, or your squat racks.
The basic premise is strength training with free weights and resistance, but no need for more expensive selectorized equipment. Basic weight training where you can lift up and put down multiple times in a row, and a turf area to sprint, push sleds, and do agility and speed work.
It is essentially functional fitness area suicide to build out this space, equip this space, and then leave this space open with no direction.
In order to be successful and see an ROI on your new training area, you must have proper programming. Most functional equipment manufacturers will help you find the space, design the space, and program for the space. We also help you with information on how to equip and program your space with VertiMax.
When you walk into a big box facility, a member who doesn’t understand training walks directly to the treadmills, hits quick start and runs for 30 minutes, maybe hits a selectorized weight machine or two, and then walks out. A month down the road this becomes not only monotonous, but they don’t see the results they were expecting. They’re not a trainer and yet they are trying to train themselves to success.
This is where programming comes in.
With proper programming, your members walk into the functional area, don’t have to think and can follow a routine that is professionally built and implemented by one of your certified coaches. Check out the Top Raptor Exercises for Functional Fitness Training.
This not only allows for variation of exercise, but allows for results to be seen in an efficient and effective manner.
Program for success and your members will see success. If you don’t want your trainers to spend the time programming, there are companies that will program for you 365 workouts a year, built with the proper purpose, process, priority and progression to aid in performance for your members.
Last but probably most important is the community you build in your space. For example, Crossfit grew a whopping 2,300% in 10 years! Let’s think about why CrossFit has been so successful. Overlook the fact that most CrossFit facilities or other functional fitness studios only need a few hundred members to turn a profit with their small group training programs.
They have built a culture of belief. Their communication and member penetration is intense. If they have the right leadership in their gyms, upwards of 90% are using the same supplements and buying them there. They hold events, outings and gatherings. They brand their own clothing and live in that CrossFit brand.
They have created their own culture and will insist to the end that their training, system and belief are superior to all. It’s quite impressive actually.
Researchers interviewed CrossFit box owners to try and understand this phenomenon, and what they found was that beyond the physical and psychological benefits of working out, CrossFit tapped into the social aspect of training.
In order to replicate this success in your facility, and on your functional area, you need to build a lasting and engaging brand, plain and simple. Create a community feel through proper programming, equipment, space and motivation.
Bonus Factor 5. Get Raptor Fit
The VertiMax RaptorFit solution brings in the new age of small group functional training.
Using patented VertiMax technology. The RaptorFit program allows your members to train using the exact same equipment as olympians and professional athletes around the world.
The RaptorFit solution is an all encompassing package that provides you a brand new revenue stream for your facility. We provide you everything you need in order to build, optimize and scale a successful functional fitness business inside your existing business.
Our goal is to provide you a turnkey solution that will bring you additional monthly revenue with very little work on your end. The deployment of the RaptorFit solution can be done in very small areas (or no area at all), and is customized based on your facility’s specific needs.
When you onboard RaptorFit, you’re not bringing on another class or training system, you’re joining a community. A community of like minded facilities, athletes, coaches and parents whose goal it is to inspire the athlete in all of us to become our very best
ACSM Journal - Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2023
Article on Medium