Functional training – Putting the fun in functional

Functional training

Putting the fun in functional

With a growing number of members realising the value of functional training, a growing number of health clubs are installing striking functional zones. Steph Eaves rounds up some best practice examples

By Steph Eaves | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 3

The Volt Gym – Burscough, UK

Cameron Mitchell
The Volt Gym

Although the traditional cardio suite will always have its place in clubs, we believe gym-goers want to get lean and strong.

In designing The Volt Gym, we therefore turned the conventional cardio-intensive health club on its head, focusing instead on functional training zones and fewer cardio pieces; we have three functional training zones within our gym.

The first thing that catches the eye as you enter the gym is the Life Fitness Synrgy 360XS. This versatile piece of kit has become very popular among our members, allowing individuals to do full-body circuits, group training, cardio and strength training in one space. Synrgy was the perfect choice, as we were able to make it bespoke to our club and brand.

As you travel further into the gym, you can choose to go left down our Power Tunnel or right into our free weights and plate-loaded Hammer Strength zone. The Power Tunnel features two Hammer Strength Elite full racks, a half rack and a track with dog sled.

We’ve found that less-experienced members are far more inclined to train in functional areas when they’re separate from the rest of the gym.


The Volt Gym’s zone features Synrgy and Hammer Strength

The Gym Way – London Marriott Hotel Club, UK

Ian Thorpe
Fitness Systems

Our brief was to create an engaging, interactive training environment that would appeal to The Gym Way members as well as Marriott hotel guests. We needed something that immediately caught the attention of anyone who wanted to train. It had to be instantly clear what equipment was available and allow for plenty of users to engage in activities simultaneously.

The result is a fun functional training area with a ‘climbing frame’ rig as the centrepiece, complemented by brightly coloured equipment from Physical Company.

We custom-built the long rig to allow for plenty of stations to be used at once. The design allows individuals to move along the rig and small groups to train alongside each other. It encourages flow of movement, so not an inch of floor space is wasted and there are no dark corners or dead zones.

All the kit is set out on the rig, centrally placed, to invite members to try it. At the same time, it’s neatly stored and safely stowed.


The Gym Way’s rig was custom-built

Best’s Bootcamp – London, UK

Matt Morton
Head of Global Partnerships
Escape Fitness

Scott Best and Lee Drabble at Best’s Bootcamp had a strong vision of bringing a fresh new feel to the boutique scene, with an injection of colour. Our challenge was to take that vision and create something to fit the brand and attract their target market.

The design and programming had to focus on full-body functional training through all three planes of motion. Supporting this would be a 360-degree trainer cam, full studio lighting and resident DJs to create an energetic atmosphere for maximum motivation.

Once the workout style was agreed, we created a bespoke product. The ‘Best’s Box’ is a safe, soft plyometric step configurable at different heights, and usable on an incline or decline.

Functional training tools were chosen to complement this signature product, enabling the club to deliver varied, high quality, engaging and results-driven workouts.

The design also features great-looking storage, positioned to ensure that the correct kit is exactly where it’s needed for every workout.

I think we’ve created something really impressive and I’m very proud to have made a contribution to a spectacular training environment that marries substance with style.


The Best’s Box is a soft, configurable plyometric step

The Link Centre – Swindon, UK

Lauren Myring
National Product Design and Technical Manager

GLL is constantly challenging the norm of gym design with interesting spaces. The shift towards functional training in the last decade has fundamentally altered the way our gyms are designed.

Functional spaces must cater for a diverse range of users – from older adults completing gentle movement to improve mobility and flexibility, to the younger generation moving away from traditional weight training to bodyweight training.

At the Link Centre, while rubber matting would have been a practical solution, it didn’t necessarily allow the user to train in a way that would complement real-life movements. Createability therefore installed Astroturf, as it provides a more realistic grip and feel, and is actually more comfortable. It has a greater life span in high-use areas too, and doesn’t mark like the rubber equivalent – plus it looks great!


Artificial turf offers a comfortable grip in the Link Centre zone

Solan Fitness – East Grinstead, UK

Rachelle Solan
Solan Fitness

We designed our functional training zone to have ‘wow factor’. We placed the zone where it would catch our members’ attention, with the vibrant yellow central rig standing tall. We understand that people will judge the facility within about three seconds of entering, so we chose a Jordan Ignite Rig to offer a robust and impressive structure.

We worked closely with the team at Jordan to install a sprint track to allow for high-intensity training, dragging, pulling and circuit training.

The sprint track is made from green turf to add a fun feel that matches the rest of the gym. The entire zone has been designed to encourage our members to be sociable, active and adventurous.

Finally, we designed the lighting and décor with precision, to ensure the whole area delivers ‘The Solan Experience’. The space is fitted with adaptable lighting to create a special ambiance. We’ve also incorporated wall murals to add unique character to the zone.


Solan’s zone has been designed to have the ‘wow factor’

Fitness Formula Park Ridge Club – Illinois, US

Jon Baraglia
Senior Director of Fitness
Fitness Formula

Our performance training centre is centred around functional training, with the TRX suspension training system playing a key role. As it doesn’t take up any floor space, it gives us the flexibility to teach a dedicated TRX group class or use the zone in 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 zone every day, using everything from TRX training to tyres, kettlebells and sleds. When there are no classes taking place, members take full advantage of the fun, functional space.


The monkey bars are an eye-catching central feature

Life:lab – Chislehurst, UK

Adam Daniel

I had three key objectives when designing life:lab. Firstly, the design had to offer intelligent storage solutions and maximise the space so we could maximise member capacity. The Queenax is perfect for this, with the added benefit that I can add to the kit options as needed.

I also wanted to create a ‘wow factor’: there are three corporate gyms near life:lab, so I needed to differentiate our gym. The choice of kit was a clear way to do this. By using the Queenax modular system, I’ve been able to create a bespoke functional training area. It’s often one of the first things members comment on when they join.

Finally, I wanted to inspire and excite members by creating a facility that had them asking questions about the equipment, because they hadn’t seen it before.


life:lab offers
equipment members
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