Functional training
Putting the ‘fun’ in functional

It’s easy to get stuck in a functional rut, relying on the same old burpees and ball slams. We ask for inspiration on how to put the fun back into functional training


Les Mills
Bryce Hastings, head of research
The energetic nature of functional training increases the chances of enjoyment through freedom of movement, making it more likely people will adhere to programming.

Even the most effective workout is useless if no one wants to do it, so the ultimate aim must be delivering fun. Our research indicates that a focus on experience is key. While technique and good coaching are important, we know it’s the experience that ultimately brings people back and keeps them engaged.

Non-conventional exercises that use external equipment can help to add more interest to a workout. For example, tyre flipping and battle ropes – which are also great for intensity – add an element of complexity and cognitive function.

Movements which participants wouldn’t necessarily have access to everywhere they go add that extra element of interest.

Bryce’s Les Mills faves
Les Mills Grit and Les Mills Tone classes.
"The ultimate aim must be delivering fun"
Auster Fitness
Andrew Siu, CEO and system developer
Functional fitness is about learning skill moves, and it has a place in assisting all sports. Learning new skills like handstands or even just proper squat form can be hugely rewarding. Likewise, the basic movements of each sport can be identified, such as reaching, pulling, rotating, etc., and these can all be repeated in a way to make an exercise flow.

These movements can be synchronised and repeated to the beat, creating elegant synched movements. This will improve sporting performance and also be a fun way to train.

Andrew’s Auster faves
Power straps and dynamic resistance bands, separately and in combination.
"Learning new skills can be hugely rewarding"
Functional training can assist all sports
Pavigym
Daniel López, programme manager
Interaction and community is key. People want challenges, competitions and a good system to measure their progress and results. This is why technology is important. In Prama, we include games during the warm-up – think ‘rock, paper, scissors’ – getting everyone together in pairs or threes.

We also try to include accessories or technological elements from the beginning of each session, in order to encourage users to both train harder and get more enjoyment. Our star exercise is our ‘fast feet’ competition, where users run on the spot and sensors count their steps. It’s the perfect end to the session that encourages both collaboration and competition, increasing the fun factor and sense of belonging for all users.

Daniel’s Pavigym faves
The Prama Combo unit – a wall and floor combination with 18 sensors in two square formations, all controlled by software.
"Collaboration and competition increase sense of belonging"
Pavigym includes games in its sessions
Matrix Fitness
Matt Gleed, head master trainer
Functional fitness can be completely creative and dynamic, a collaboration of interesting circuits, equipment and environments. It’s easy to change up the scenery by taking functional fitness into the great outdoors, where fresh air, great views or good weather can inspire new levels of motivation in your clients or members.

Functional fitness is completely transportable, it’s the fitness journey that you can take with you when you travel, meaning you can do functional training anytime, anywhere in the world, in some of the most scenic locations.

Matt’s Matrix faves:
The Matrix MX4 small group training programme, which is centred around the concepts of functional fitness, working with the Matrix Connexus range.
"You can do functional training anytime, anywhere"
Matrix’s MX4 small group training
Precor
Erica Tillinghast, global education manager
The functional fitness spectrum appeals to a broad range of people. For the social, play-based exerciser, incorporating school-inspired games into group workouts provides throw-back excitement for the young at heart.

Gamifying workouts with leaderboards, incorporating new exercises that will help enhance skills outside the gym, and partnering up and including interactive exercises will also add a fresh lens to functional training.

It’s important to remember that ‘fun’ means something different to everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all workout that will captivate every exerciser. Offering a range of programme choices that map to different exerciser values and aspirations is your best bet to long term programme success and ingenuity.

Erica’s Precor faves:
Queenax, paired with Precor’s PT workshops, and Precor’s new launch, Studio Ignite, a comprehensive high intensity interval training programme.
"Incorporate school-inspired games to provide throw-back excitement"
Offering a range of functional choices is crucial
Physical Company
Lawrence Price, master trainer
We know how important standalone compound strength is but developing functional training is the bridge from the squat rack into everyday life, sports and full human potential.

The key is to remember the relevance to real-life movements and not to fall into the trap of pursuing overly elaborate exercises and routines at the expense of sensible training methodologies.

Many people struggle to connect with traditional fitness methods but find great enjoyment in being able to express themselves physically through the multitude of formats functional training brings – from dance to cross training fitness tests.

Lawrence’s Physical Co faves:
Physical Company wall balls and battle ropes.
"Remember the relevance to real-life movement"
Technogym
Stu Gatherum, educator and master trainer
Functional fitness is a real winner because it is so versatile. I define it as training someone to be fit for what they have to do. Once you understand exactly why the client has come to the gym, you can use functional fitness training to achieve that. Functional training helps people be more successful in their day-to-day physical tasks.

I always encourage trainers to introduce games, especially in warm ups. Games help people let go of tension and get rid of any frustrations they’ve brought into the gym. This kind of play and movement help people feel less self-conscious, which can be a key barrier for many – especially at the start of a session. Games get the heart-rate up and get people using the space and moving in different ways.

It’s a great way to encourage people to loosen up and relax into the session. It will also bond a group quickly.

Stu’s Technogym faves:
Technogym speed ladders, jump ropes, plyo boxes, slam balls and Skillmill.
"Games help people let go of tension and frustrations"
Games help people to feel less self-conscious
Life Fitness
Paul Street, national health and fitness manager, Serco Leisure
Getting involved in a group fitness functional offering can really increase the motivation and fun. It adds a social element too, as people stay around and chat afterwards. To boost the fun further, we’ve experimented by adding a light-hearted, competitive element to some of our functional sessions.

What’s also proven popular for us is having the ability to shift a session outdoors and use our training yard. There’s something about being outside that adds a smile to any workout. Interestingly, we’re seeing people smiling even when they work out in the wind and rain! While people love working out in the sunshine, there’s definitely a special kind of camaraderie that comes from exercising as a group when the weather’s not so nice.

Paul’s Life Fitness faves:
The Life Fitness Synrgy360 rig.
"There’s something about being outside that adds a smile to any workout"
Street recommends the Synrgy360 rig
Escape Fitness
Ben Hackney-Williams, head of content
My advice is to encourage members to train for something. Book a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or whatever kind of event you’re interested in, and then crosstrain with functional equipment. It will mean that you don’t get bored of only running, for example, but you still improve through plyo jumps, squats, or cardio workouts.

Ben’s Escape faves:
Escape’s Strongbox – an all-in-one workout station.
"Encourage members to train for something"
Crosstrain with functional equipment to prevent boredom
Pulse Fitness
Ben Steadman, business development director
I love the ability to use weird and inanimate objects as workout tools. With functional fitness you can just use the environment around you and focus on your own body weight as your main resistance.

When I was training as a Prison Service PTI, we used to race using wooden benches, med balls, sticks and about anything else we could lay our hands on. We utilised team games that were both functional and fun. The fact you have so many exercises and formats available to use in functional fitness gives you so much flexibility.

Ben’s Pulse faves
Medicine balls, kettlebells, plyometric boxes, ropes, rings and bands.
"Use weird and inanimate objects"
Any objects can be utilised for fitness
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2020 issue 4

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Leisure Management - Putting the ‘fun’ in functional

Functional training

Putting the ‘fun’ in functional


It’s easy to get stuck in a functional rut, relying on the same old burpees and ball slams. We ask for inspiration on how to put the fun back into functional training

Les Mills
Bryce Hastings, head of research
The energetic nature of functional training increases the chances of enjoyment through freedom of movement, making it more likely people will adhere to programming.

Even the most effective workout is useless if no one wants to do it, so the ultimate aim must be delivering fun. Our research indicates that a focus on experience is key. While technique and good coaching are important, we know it’s the experience that ultimately brings people back and keeps them engaged.

Non-conventional exercises that use external equipment can help to add more interest to a workout. For example, tyre flipping and battle ropes – which are also great for intensity – add an element of complexity and cognitive function.

Movements which participants wouldn’t necessarily have access to everywhere they go add that extra element of interest.

Bryce’s Les Mills faves
Les Mills Grit and Les Mills Tone classes.
"The ultimate aim must be delivering fun"
Auster Fitness
Andrew Siu, CEO and system developer
Functional fitness is about learning skill moves, and it has a place in assisting all sports. Learning new skills like handstands or even just proper squat form can be hugely rewarding. Likewise, the basic movements of each sport can be identified, such as reaching, pulling, rotating, etc., and these can all be repeated in a way to make an exercise flow.

These movements can be synchronised and repeated to the beat, creating elegant synched movements. This will improve sporting performance and also be a fun way to train.

Andrew’s Auster faves
Power straps and dynamic resistance bands, separately and in combination.
"Learning new skills can be hugely rewarding"
Functional training can assist all sports
Pavigym
Daniel López, programme manager
Interaction and community is key. People want challenges, competitions and a good system to measure their progress and results. This is why technology is important. In Prama, we include games during the warm-up – think ‘rock, paper, scissors’ – getting everyone together in pairs or threes.

We also try to include accessories or technological elements from the beginning of each session, in order to encourage users to both train harder and get more enjoyment. Our star exercise is our ‘fast feet’ competition, where users run on the spot and sensors count their steps. It’s the perfect end to the session that encourages both collaboration and competition, increasing the fun factor and sense of belonging for all users.

Daniel’s Pavigym faves
The Prama Combo unit – a wall and floor combination with 18 sensors in two square formations, all controlled by software.
"Collaboration and competition increase sense of belonging"
Pavigym includes games in its sessions
Matrix Fitness
Matt Gleed, head master trainer
Functional fitness can be completely creative and dynamic, a collaboration of interesting circuits, equipment and environments. It’s easy to change up the scenery by taking functional fitness into the great outdoors, where fresh air, great views or good weather can inspire new levels of motivation in your clients or members.

Functional fitness is completely transportable, it’s the fitness journey that you can take with you when you travel, meaning you can do functional training anytime, anywhere in the world, in some of the most scenic locations.

Matt’s Matrix faves:
The Matrix MX4 small group training programme, which is centred around the concepts of functional fitness, working with the Matrix Connexus range.
"You can do functional training anytime, anywhere"
Matrix’s MX4 small group training
Precor
Erica Tillinghast, global education manager
The functional fitness spectrum appeals to a broad range of people. For the social, play-based exerciser, incorporating school-inspired games into group workouts provides throw-back excitement for the young at heart.

Gamifying workouts with leaderboards, incorporating new exercises that will help enhance skills outside the gym, and partnering up and including interactive exercises will also add a fresh lens to functional training.

It’s important to remember that ‘fun’ means something different to everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all workout that will captivate every exerciser. Offering a range of programme choices that map to different exerciser values and aspirations is your best bet to long term programme success and ingenuity.

Erica’s Precor faves:
Queenax, paired with Precor’s PT workshops, and Precor’s new launch, Studio Ignite, a comprehensive high intensity interval training programme.
"Incorporate school-inspired games to provide throw-back excitement"
Offering a range of functional choices is crucial
Physical Company
Lawrence Price, master trainer
We know how important standalone compound strength is but developing functional training is the bridge from the squat rack into everyday life, sports and full human potential.

The key is to remember the relevance to real-life movements and not to fall into the trap of pursuing overly elaborate exercises and routines at the expense of sensible training methodologies.

Many people struggle to connect with traditional fitness methods but find great enjoyment in being able to express themselves physically through the multitude of formats functional training brings – from dance to cross training fitness tests.

Lawrence’s Physical Co faves:
Physical Company wall balls and battle ropes.
"Remember the relevance to real-life movement"
Technogym
Stu Gatherum, educator and master trainer
Functional fitness is a real winner because it is so versatile. I define it as training someone to be fit for what they have to do. Once you understand exactly why the client has come to the gym, you can use functional fitness training to achieve that. Functional training helps people be more successful in their day-to-day physical tasks.

I always encourage trainers to introduce games, especially in warm ups. Games help people let go of tension and get rid of any frustrations they’ve brought into the gym. This kind of play and movement help people feel less self-conscious, which can be a key barrier for many – especially at the start of a session. Games get the heart-rate up and get people using the space and moving in different ways.

It’s a great way to encourage people to loosen up and relax into the session. It will also bond a group quickly.

Stu’s Technogym faves:
Technogym speed ladders, jump ropes, plyo boxes, slam balls and Skillmill.
"Games help people let go of tension and frustrations"
Games help people to feel less self-conscious
Life Fitness
Paul Street, national health and fitness manager, Serco Leisure
Getting involved in a group fitness functional offering can really increase the motivation and fun. It adds a social element too, as people stay around and chat afterwards. To boost the fun further, we’ve experimented by adding a light-hearted, competitive element to some of our functional sessions.

What’s also proven popular for us is having the ability to shift a session outdoors and use our training yard. There’s something about being outside that adds a smile to any workout. Interestingly, we’re seeing people smiling even when they work out in the wind and rain! While people love working out in the sunshine, there’s definitely a special kind of camaraderie that comes from exercising as a group when the weather’s not so nice.

Paul’s Life Fitness faves:
The Life Fitness Synrgy360 rig.
"There’s something about being outside that adds a smile to any workout"
Street recommends the Synrgy360 rig
Escape Fitness
Ben Hackney-Williams, head of content
My advice is to encourage members to train for something. Book a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or whatever kind of event you’re interested in, and then crosstrain with functional equipment. It will mean that you don’t get bored of only running, for example, but you still improve through plyo jumps, squats, or cardio workouts.

Ben’s Escape faves:
Escape’s Strongbox – an all-in-one workout station.
"Encourage members to train for something"
Crosstrain with functional equipment to prevent boredom
Pulse Fitness
Ben Steadman, business development director
I love the ability to use weird and inanimate objects as workout tools. With functional fitness you can just use the environment around you and focus on your own body weight as your main resistance.

When I was training as a Prison Service PTI, we used to race using wooden benches, med balls, sticks and about anything else we could lay our hands on. We utilised team games that were both functional and fun. The fact you have so many exercises and formats available to use in functional fitness gives you so much flexibility.

Ben’s Pulse faves
Medicine balls, kettlebells, plyometric boxes, ropes, rings and bands.
"Use weird and inanimate objects"
Any objects can be utilised for fitness

Originally published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 4

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