I am a huge believer in functional training. Coming from a background in isolated training, that focused on single joint action and specific muscle development, I love the freshness of functional training. The whole body is engaged in movement, making it time efficient, more interesting and more natural. In fact, the whole Gymstick concept is functional training, and everyone knows that I love Gymstick.
So what is this blog about, well, the realities of functional training and what are we doing about it.
Picture this – a novice walks into a traditional gym with pin loaded equipment. They have been shown around the gym (or not) and they look at the equipment with some trepidation. They can see a seat and a picture of a before and after example of the exercise to be performed. They can see what muscles are meant to be working, as they are shaded on the diagram. So they sit down, estimate what weight they can do and then perform the exercise. Hmmm… that wasn’t too hard and then onto the next piece. Some members are not even that confident and will need someone to show them around again, before they feel that they can tackle the equipment on their own.
So, the same novice walks into the functional training zone. It looks cool – there is a monkey bars high up, some straps hanging down, some odd looking bowling balls with handles, rubber bands looped around a hook, some weird looking bags in a corner, long heavy ropes, a massive tire and something that you have to either pull or push. What now? In fact, what do you do with all this stuff?
A large LCD screen shows a great video of people doing amazing exercises and gymnastic feats on the monkey bars and jumping tall boxes. This does not look like something that the novice feels confident doing. So the novice slinks away to a treadmill hoping to learn by watching other people use the equipment.
This makes me wonder how well we are educating consumers about how to use functional training equipment. Should the client feel intimidated AGAIN about walking into a gym? I had a personal experience in Pure, an amazing club in Hong Kong a year ago, when I was shown around the gym and the functional training area. I must admit, I had NO idea how to use some of the equipment and there was no one there doing any training with it. How was I to know how to use any of it?
As an industry, I think that it is great that we embrace new ideas and ways of training, but sometimes the thought that goes into implementing them is not well planned out. Are we trying to attract new clients and make them feel confident and secure, or trying to scare them away? Alternatively, are we trying to appeal to the fit client, and give them yet another exercise option for them?
Putting on my novice hat and glasses, I thought of some ideas that might work – would have to try them out to see if they did.
· 15 – 30 minute classes in the gym where one of the gym instructors or PTs would announce that they are doing a demo for one of the pieces of equipment.
· Video the demonstration of how to use the equipment in real time
· Circuit classes that incorporate the equipment
· Programs that include the equipment
· Videos on the website that can be downloaded for the client to take with them to the gym
These were some brainstorming ideas that would not cost much and easy to implement. Functional training is definitely the new way forward with exercise, but I hope that it does not become another intimidating factor for new exercisers.