Bridging the Gap Between Selectorized Equipment and Functional Cages.
In a market where, since 2008, gyms are competing for the attention of 41 million American health club members, every gym owner needs to understand how to attract new members. Why do people go to the gym instead of working out at home and how do you keep them once they walk in the gym doors?
The primary reason people leave the comfort of home is the availability of exercise equipment. Another reason is that it’s lonely at home. The gym provides a social atmosphere that helps with motivation. Since all gym franchises offer exercise equipment, from free weights to machines, sharp marketing is especially important to attract potential clients. And awareness of trends in this business helps. For example, the age demographic for gym members has shifted from 18-34 year olds to include both children (due to the childhood obesity epidemic) and those over 50 (the Baby Boomer generation). The ideal gym needs to invite people of all ages to exercise within their abilities in a safe, enjoyable environment with useful equipment to improve physical health.
GET IN THE GAME WITH MARKETING STRATEGY
Chris Stevenson, owner of Stevenson Fitness, faculty member of the California Health and Longevity Institute and founder of Stay Strong Consulting, looks for fairly simple-to-operate equipment that members can use by themselves. He weighs the benefits of a piece of equipment against its features. Does it provide social interaction? Does it use body weight, weight plates or weight stacks? “It’s important to engage your members, while asking the question ‘How is this going to increase my revenue?’” Small group training has evolved to be a perfect fit for utilizing personal trainer staff while providing customer satisfaction. Trainers can even help shape customer loyalty to particular pieces of equipment in which you have invested by consistently using these machines in small group sessions.
As a fitness provider, Stevenson also believes it’s essential to offer education and motivation. And the key to motivation lies insocial interaction with both the gym staff and other gym members. “It’s important to create a welcoming atmosphere where members feel like they’re part of a gym family and where they can bring their families.”
ELEVATE THE GYM EXPERIENCE
The Total Gym Elevate Circuit, targeting both group and individual training in the functional fitness trend, is the first line of functional bodyweight resistance single-station machines. Simple in design, each piece is intuitive to use and offers workouts for all levels of fitness. There are six pieces: the Core Trainer, Leg Trainer, Pull-up Trainer, Press Trainer, Jump Trainer and Row Trainer, which can be used individually or together in a circuit to perform over 80 exercises, from basic to challenging.
WHY CHOOSE CIRCUITS FOR STRENGTH TRAINING
Circuit training has gone through a number of iterations, from 30-minute light-weight, high rep sets, to 4-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT), such as Tabata. The most basic circuits involve selectorized equipment because of the necessity for speed and ease of changing weights between users. Selectorized equipment using weight stacks has always been touted as a “great way to do circuit training” because it targets beginner and intermediate gym-goers. The load is controlled and the body is positioned ergonomically. Plate loaded machines are the next step up in resistance training for those who max out the weight limits on the selectorized weight stack. The workouts are generally anaerobic though, which means users need to do cardio exercises separately to get a complete workout.
Total Gym addresses this dichotomy by incorporating full body motion in every Elevate Circuit machine using body weight, gravity and (at times) bungee-type bands as resistance. In particular, the Jump Trainer provides low and high impact, highly effective plyometric movement that’s accessible to all. Plyometric exercises can also be performed by using explosive pushing action on the Press Trainer, forceful pulling action on the Pull-up Trainer and explosive jumping on the Jump Trainer. These actions allow the user to get an airborne feeling by releasing the hand grips as they move up and down the rails. The body stays safely anchored on the glideboard, with no chance for falling or landing too hard. More importantly by using only a percentage of bodyweight, a user, who may not have previously been able to perform certain exercises, can now jump, or a do press up, or a pull-up.
The Total Gym Row Trainer, emulating a rowing pattern, integrates an upper and lower body component into a traditional cardio machine and is the latest addition to the Elevate Circuit. It enables a smooth consistent load through the entire range of motion due to loaded concentric and eccentric phases of the exercise while providing low impact on the joints, especially the lower spine. And it is built for multi-planar movement including exercises such as biceps curl and an alternating side to side row.
KICKING IT UP A NOTCH
On the other end of the spectrum of gym trends is CrossFit, which tends to appeal to competitive athletic types who enjoy variety and challenge. Gyms that focus on this type of workout use a cage or “power” cage with performance station set-ups in small group training, which, as mentioned before, is a great way to encourage members to buy sessions.
The cage footprint can be from 4′ by 4′ to 24′ or larger, and there’s a lot of equipment that is normally used with it—barbells, dumbbells, weight benches, resistance bands, rings, medicine balls, TRX bands, etc. To first-time gym goers it can be intimidating. Deconditioned people, older members, and injured members have a difficult time using functional cage setups on their own.
Total Gym bridges the gap between the novice equipment user and advanced athletes who like to circuit train. In fact, the Elevate line also saves money in the equipment budget while capitalizing on space, and it allows for greater revenue by providing a way to offer small group training with personal trainers. This bodyweight circuit is for every body. And, as such, it should be positioned as a transitional circuit.
A WISE SPACE INVESTMENT
Each of the six pieces in the Elevate Circuit can be used as part of a circuit or individually. The exercises can be progressed from beginner to advanced fitness levels by increasing the incline at which the work is done and incorporating plyometric variations. The Jump Trainer and Row Trainer also have bungee cables to add more resistance than gravity and body weight alone.
The equipment can be grouped together or by body part, intermixed with traditional selectorized equipment. Note that if you put the Core Trainer with an ab-crunch machine, clients will quickly see which one offers more diversity and quicker full-core results. The same goes for the Leg Trainer, which can take the place of the glute machine, the quad machine and the hamstring machine.
MACHINES WITH A FUN FACTOR
Exercises are intuitive and the equipment is user-friendly with placards illustrating exercises on how to perform the circuit. A quick scan of the QR code opens numerous videos demonstrating even more options. All the machines are more fun to use than selectorized or plate loaded equipment because you’re actually moving your body up and down incline rails with your physical efforts. “Riding the rails,” so to speak, is a great way to build body awareness. Research has shown that exercising one limb at a time can allow for heavier weights to be lifted by the single limb compared to when both are used at the same time. This can increase the stress placed on the muscle and help exercisers get better results*. Each Elevate unit can isolate one limb or body part for effective strength gains. What client doesn’t like fast results and efficient workouts that are fun?
Another positive experience factor involves the circuit part of exercising with the Elevate Circuit – it brings people together, allowing them to be more social in the gym setting, or a small training program setting. It bridges the gap between selectorized and functional cages. Selectorized machines are very isolating; and though people work out with others in the cage, it tends to get extremely competitive. There’s nothing in the middle—until now. The Elevate Circuit, when used as a circuit, is designed to be followed by number. Six exercises for six machines. A trainer can lead six clients at a time for a full-body cardiovascular and strength workout. Every participant does exercise number one on each unit until they’ve cycled through the six machines. Returning back to the first machine they started on, every participant starts on exercise number two, and so on, until the group has completed six exercise on each unit. For some clients, this is a way to engage in effective body weight training for the first time.
Cardio and sculpting needs are both addressed in the Elevate Circuit. Plyometric and low impact options are easily interchanged. And you can even stretch on the machines—no separate space or equipment necessary for a special “stretching machine.”
The exercises can be regressed when a client is injured. The fully-supported body position options are useful for therapeutic exercise programs. This helps retain members who would otherwise quit due to injury, boredom and being unsuccessful.
According to IHRSA, every gym owner wants equipment that is cost effective, requires low maintenance, is visually pleasing, and helps members see great results. Gym owners capitalize on the ease of use and appeal to non-athletic or inexperienced people (think Curves or Orange Theory) who are intimidated by free weights or plate-loaded equipment. The Total Gym Elevate Circuit is aligned with what gym owners are looking for. They are simple to lift and move since they are on wheels, which means you can change the configuration of your gym as you see fit. And they only take up just over 200 square feet of space. The machines are modern with sleek lines, which attract the eye of discerning clients. Total Gym Elevate Circuit is revolutionary: for less than $11,000, you can update your gym with the latest equipment design in fitness that is guaranteed to drive sales and member retention while satisfying the clients’ needs for functional training and that’s fun and engaging.
*(Cresswell AG, Ovendal AH.,2002, Hakkinen K, et.al.,1997)
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About the Author
Jodai Saremi, DPM, BS , is a freelance writer, AFAA certified trainer, and fitness model. She has written for American Fitness, SPIN fitness, Your Health Connection magazines, and other online publications. Her articles have also been featured in textbooks. She enjoys an active lifestyle and lives in Ventura County, Calif. with her husband and two children.