Posted on March 11, 2018 5:30 PM

Selectorized machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, and all the other machines of the fitness world are a beautiful thing. There’s something cathartic about hopping on, hammering it out, and checking it off the list. They are also conducive to setting up proper form and exercise efficiency, as each rep is uniformly challenged from start to finish. Nevertheless, machines have such a large footprint. They often take up most of the floor space, leaving little if any room for other things. (Not to mention the fact that they’re expensive). While there will always be a time and a place for machines, there does seem to be a tangible shift in the industry defined by replacing a portion of these cramped spaces with open terrain for Functional Training. Finding this winning combination of  functional training space and machines seems to be the goldilocks zone for success in today’s competitive industry.

A few issues with an ALL treadmill and selectorialized model is that it leaves little space (both literally and figuratively) for movement-based training - not to mention it prevents gyms from cashing in on the continued rise in popularity of training with other Functional Training modalities (like the Suspension Training, Kettlebells, Battle Ropes, etc). Above all, creating open spaces for functional training compliments all aspects of your business - including PT and Group.

Programming group and personal workouts using a combination of selectorized equipment, cardio machines, and functional training appears to generate significantly higher revenue and enhances client engagement, with the outcome of increasing member retention and  reducing attrition. For instance, several California based clubs such as In-Shape and California Athletic Clubs have seen substantial success in embracing this model.  To sum it all up, it’s appears to be a winning combination no matter how you spin it.

In an Athletic Business article titled Making Room for Functional Strength Training in Mainstream Health Clubs, Paul Steinbach interviewed Thomas Plummer, a noted fitness lecturer and author of the book How to Make More Money in the Fitness Industry. Plummer noted that functional fitness gyms with fewer than 10,000 square feet of floor space and less than 600 clients are forcing larger gyms that rely on machine-based training and boast 30,000 square feet and 6,000 to offer functional training-based spaces to keep up with industry trends.

The trend of gyms and studios opening up some of the space previously occupied by machines is a rampant. According to a story by Rachel Bachman published in a December 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of cardio machines to weight training equipment sold around the world dropped from 64 to 36% last year. Bachman also references a study that showed UK gym-goers reduced their total time spent on cardio machines by 7% in 2017, even as overall gym use increased. Clearly, the fitness equipment tide is turning in favor of more open spaces and configurable modalities - creating a happy coexistence for both machines and functional training.

With TRX Studio Line, Suspension Trainers, and Functional Training Tools for example, a gym can conduct a wide variety of instructor-led individual and group training sessions for a broad range of clients using multi-purpose equipment that takes up very little floor space. As Functional Training gear can easily be stowed away, they can quickly make way for other types of training that uses equipment such as sleds, slam balls, kettlebells, barbells, and more. This is the exact opposite of the single-function equipment, which is often semi or completely restricted to one fixed location.

Jon Baraglia, Senior Director of Fitness at leading Chicago gym Fitness Formula, told Health Club Magazine: “Our performance training center is centered around functional training, with the TRX Studio Line playing a key role. As it takes up hardly any floor space, it gives us the flexibility to teach a dedicated TRX group class or use the space for a fitness circuit using other functional training tools. Meanwhile, the monkey bars are a great addition for fitness enthusiasts, providing an eye-catching central feature and increasing the variety of exercises and workouts we can offer members. We run two to three classes in the TRX Studio Line area every day, using everything from Suspension Training to tires, kettlebells and sleds. When there are no classes taking place, members take full advantage of this fun and functional space.”


It’s not just the midsize or larger gyms like Fitness Formula and those mentioned in the Athletic Business article that can benefit from making the change from jam-packed to open spaces with functional training tools. In a small boutique studio, one of the fastest growing segments in the fitness industry, every single square inch counts and owners must think creatively to maximize their revenue. Thus, opting for open functional training spaces is economical, dynamic, and perfect for engaging both members and trainers.

When Master Trainer Jimmy Yuan  was preparing to outfit a small training area for the Arizona State University women’s golf team, he created a long wish list of equipment and then began crossing off the options that wouldn’t fit in his restricted space. He was left with only the absolute essentials that would help the team prepare for the rigors of each competitive season, boost their strength, power and speed, and improve their movement so their training was sustainable. In the end, his selection boiled down to TRX Suspension Trainers, kettlebells, and battling ropes. “TRX is like a Swiss Army knife for me, it’s a portable multipurpose tool,” Jimmy said. “It enables me to recreate the same movement patterns as I have my athletes perform with kettlebells, barbells, and dumbbells, and to prepare them for using higher loads later in the season. The small footprint that Suspension Training offers is another benefit, as I can train people effectively when there isn’t a lot of floor space available.”

And such preparation certainly hit the mark, as the ASU women’s team that Jimmy trained with this functional equipment in his small, open-plan facility, won their eighth national title. It wasn’t just a win for Jimmy and his athletes, but also for a new era of movement-based training.


Start maximizing non-dues revenue and opening up the training spaces in your facility with TRX Studio Line. To learn more, contact a TRX Sales Representative: | 1-888-878-5348, option 3.

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