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FUNCTIONAL TRAINING


Push or pull?


THE FUNCTIONAL TREND


Functional training is the buzzword among operators, but what do the end users think? HCM teams up with GYMetrix to get the real story, and see how clubs can get the most out of their zones. Kath Hudson reports


W


ith colourful mats and equipment, music and lights, functional training areas can provide a


striking addition to a gym. They provide an effective workout in half an hour, in a more varied way than the same time spent on a bike or treadmill. But according to the findings of GYMetrix, not many gym-goers know this. GYMetrix measures usage of gym


equipment by detecting movement using load sensors and accelerometers. These findings are backed up by interviews on the gym floor. “I thought there was something


wrong with the sensors when I saw the initial data, because the readings were so low,” says Rory McGown, founder of GYMetrix. “The media portrays functional training as a growing trend that must be tapped into, like an oil well that will explode, but we’re seeing


the opposite. When gyms first install a functional zone, the demand is zero. It’s a push trend, not a pull trend, and it won’t grow without staff intervention.” McGown has even seen some clubs


lose members as a result of taking out popular equipment to install functional training areas. “The problem is people don’t know what functional training is,” says McGown. “Members are creatures of habit: they need to be given a reason to get out of their comfort zone.” He continues: “Usage 20 per cent


of the time – or 65 hours a week – is considered a success story for an entire functional rig, but one piece of busy resistance equipment can routinely get this much use.” Twenty per cent is also some way off the GYMetrix benchmark of 40–60 per cent usage – a point at which investment is generally paying off but members aren’t frustrated about not being able to get onto equipment.


Does this mean that clubs should


stop investing in functional training? Not at all. However, there are some essential points to bear in mind. Functional training has to be actively sold to gym- goers. Instructors need to be able to impart this enthusiasm to the customer through inductions, programmes, demos and workshops. Because while inductions are quick on most CV and resistance equipment, functional training equipment can be used in many different ways and this takes time to learn. It’s less intuitive than fixed equipment and people are scared of looking stupid while they try to work it out. So while functional training areas can be a centrepiece, a discreet corner may actually be the best position for it. We speak to a selection of health


club operators who’ve used GYMetrix’s findings to learn some lessons and implement changes.


Ainslie Park Leisure Centre – Edinburgh Leisure


“The results showed that the functional training equipment was vacant 98 per cent of the time,” says David McLean, fitness manager, Edinburgh Leisure.


“This might suggest that we should get rid of it, but I don’t see it like that.” The results were used to inform


changes. Firstly, Edinburgh Leisure invested in staff training on the functional equipment, to encourage them to incorporate it into programmes and inductions. Then a 4.5m x 7m designated space was created, as previously members had to take the


equipment and find somewhere on the gym floor to use it. Classes were introduced,


but rather than being named after the equipment – TRX or kettlebells classes, for example – they have been given names like ‘Fat Blast’ to engage people.


60 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital Six months later, usage


up to 18 per cent, heading in the right direction for McLean’s target of 40–60 per cent. “There’s a big future for functional training, but operators must support staff, giving them the training and space to deliver what we expect,” he says.


March 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


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