Try reverting back to traditional forms of weight training, says Tom Haynes of York Fitness
Over the years there have been many new fads that have come and gone in the health and fitness market, but one item has always remained popular: free weights. There is nothing that comes close to the natural freedom of movement you achieve when using them.
When looking at what it costs for a single machine such as a chest press, the option of a good bench press, bar and plates outweighs it considerably. Yes, single machines do have a place in health clubs, either for new members who are unsure of how to use weights correctly, or for clients who are happy to make do with what they have, but to make a big statement to current and potential members revising your free weights facilities could be a fantastic option.
The buzzword in the industry seems to be ‘functional’, but what does this mean? Fit for everyday life? Fit for a sport? Simply, it’s being fit for a purpose. With many jobs today being more sedate than previous generations, it’s no wonder our bodies cannot cope with the stresses placed upon them when doing everyday chores such as gardening or having a kickabout with the kids. The result is more injuries to areas such as the lower back, and in sports environments, lower limbs.
Generations past used to work the land and in prehistoric times hunt and fend for themselves. All of these required functional movements such as lifting bags of grain, dragging items such as trees or jumping/bounding. These are multi-plane movements, which require muscles to work in a multitude of directions and at different intensities, resulting in a more functionally strong body and leading to fewer injuries.
The idea of functional training is to recreate the movements that we used to do and implement them into our workout regimes. Movements such as dead lifts are still frowned upon, but if done correctly will create a good base for greater overall and core strength improvements down the line.
When you have bought the equipment and covered the teaching of exercise, you will have another string to your proverbial bow. As a result, you stand a good chance of keeping happy members and adding new members to your facility, giving you an increase in turnover and profit.
Some of the things health club managers should ask themselves when revising free weights or adding functional training equipment to a site:
What sort of clientele do you want to attract?
This will help you decide how big your dumbbells should be, whether you need items such as medicine balls and what sort of quality of equipment should be aimed for.
Which manufacturers in the market place do exactly what I am looking for?
This will help you get the correct, in-depth information on the equipment you require without the confusion of several brands being offered by one retailer. The key is often to go direct.
Where has the kit from the manufacturers previously been installed?
Has it been purchased by top-flight football and rugby clubs, as these are considered the toughest environments for kit to be used in? Endorsement of equipment is a grey area as it’s a case of ‘money talks’. So look at the users not the endorsers.
What is the lead-time on orders?
Many companies will take an order in the UK and then send it halfway round the world, so lead times can be up to six months in some cases. Don’t be scared to ask whether it’s in stock or when is it due into stock - these are critical questions, as your members don’t want to wait on a promise. Delivery times should be around four-eight weeks if kit is to be specially made, but some companies have UK stock and delivery can be 14 days.
Now that you have the kit, are your staff educated in using free weights?
If you are looking at targeting sportsmen and women, then it would be advisable to put staff on weightlifting courses such as those offered by UKSCA. These courses are for basic weightlifting movements such as squats, dead lifts, snatch, etc, but can be tailored to improve a specific sport.