Strength training is on the rise, and your users are demanding it. But are you doing enough to support strength training at your facility? If you’re serious about attracting and retaining members, residents, students, or your staff, learning how to optimize your fitness facility for strength training is a must.

We interviewed Aktiv Solutions thought leadership and Performance Market Sales Director Joseph Harre to get their insights on the latest strength training trends and how gym operators can best support their users’ strength training goals:

Why do you think the popularity of strength training is on the rise?

Strength training has always been and will always be an integral part of any training regimen. Strength training is becoming more and more popular as people are becoming more educated about the many benefits of strength training, like improved strength, reduced risk of injury, etc. “There is also a growing trend of people wanting to exercise for overall wellness and to feel their best, and strength training is a great way to achieve these goals,” says Bryan Green, Aktiv Founder and CEO. Finally, there are more and more resources available to help people get started with strength training, such as digital programs, personal trainers, and group fitness classes.

What should facility operators think about and plan to accommodate this upsurge?

“Redesigning the strength training area to promote efficiency and enhance the overall member experience is a crucial step,” says Joseph Harre, Performance Market Sales Director. “By incorporating dedicated zones for barbell movements and functional strength exercises, operators can create a more focused and organized environment. This approach allows members to transition seamlessly between high-intensity barbell work and lower-impact functional exercises, maximizing their workouts and fostering a sense of flow.”

“Operators should also consider strategically eliminating underutilized strength and cardio alternatives to free up valuable space. This reallocation of space can be used to expand the strength training area, creating a more robust and inviting environment for strength enthusiasts. By focusing on the modalities that are in high demand, operators can enhance the overall member experience and attract new clientele.”

What are your recommendations for space allocation for cardio, functional and strength equipment in a facility?

The ideal space allocation for cardio, functional, and strength equipment will vary depending on the size of the facility and the target clientele. However, a general rule of thumb is to allocate 30% of the space each for cardio, functional training, and strength training.

What are the key pieces of equipment needed to facilitate strength training in a facility?

The key pieces of equipment needed to facilitate strength training will vary depending on the type of facility. However, some essential pieces of equipment include free weights, machines, functional training accessories, and modular functional storage or suspension bridging to promote an organized space that allows you to grow and adapt as customer needs change.

Within health clubs, universities, and sports performance facilities, machines like Olympic squat racks, bench presses, and leg machines are essential, in addition to free weights like barbells and dumbbells. Functional training accessories like medicine balls, kettlebells, battle ropes, and plyometric boxes are also musts.

“When it comes to amenity fitness facilities that are often not staffed, I recommend barbell-guided smith machines, adjustable cable options, anti-roll dumbbell options,” says Harre. “Functional accessories like kettlebells, medicine balls and bands are also commonly used.”

Two squat racks and a free weight strength training area with dumbbells and two benches.

What design factors should a facility operator consider when developing a strength training area beyond just the equipment?

In addition to equipment, there are several other design factors that facility operators should consider for a strength training area, including layout, flooring, lighting, and mirrors. The layout of the strength training area should be efficient and safe. This means providing enough space for people to move around freely and safely and avoiding congestion. The flooring in the strength training area should be durable and easy to clean. It should also provide good traction to prevent slipping. The strength training area should be well-lit to prevent accidents and injuries and the addition of mirrors is necessary for people to check their form and alignment when performing exercises.

Health club gym with functional, strength and cardio zones.

What are some pitfalls when it comes to incorporating strength training spaces and equipment?

One of the most common pitfalls to avoid when incorporating strength training spaces and equipment is not providing enough space. The strength training area should be large enough to accommodate all the necessary equipment, as well as enough space for people to move around freely and safely. Another common pitfall is not having a variety of equipment. It is important to offer a variety of strength training equipment to cater to all user levels and experience. Lastly, it’s common for facilities to not offer strength training programs or guidance. “Exercise guidance that supports strength training will help users get the most effective workouts and help build confidence in the gym,” says Bryan Green.

Strength training equipment can often look cumbersome, colorless, and not esthetically pleasing. What can facilities do to make it more visually appealing?

There are a few things that facilities can do to make strength training equipment more visually exciting, such as choosing equipment with color and including branded equipment. This will help to break up the monotony of the traditional black and gray equipment. The GYM RAX® FORMA™ Olympic Squat Rack allows operators to choose their colorway for the barbell and pull-up bar. Facilities can pair the rack with branded premium urethane plates showcasing the facility’s brand identity. FORMA Round Dumbbells can also be custom branded to add further branding and fun to the strength training area.

High school weight room with custom olympic racks and gym flooring

What key factors are important when it comes to storage for strength training?

Storage solutions in strength training zones provide safety, organization, and accessibility for users. Strength training equipment can be heavy and dangerous if not stored securely and safely. Since strength training equipment can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it is important to organize equipment in a way that is efficient and easy to use. This will help to prevent accidents and make it easier for users to find the equipment they need when they need it. Strength training equipment should be easily accessible, so that users can easily get to it and start their workout. If equipment is difficult to reach, people are less likely to use it.

What do you think the future looks like when it comes to strength training – in terms of facility preparation?

In essence, facility operators must embrace the strength training trend and adapt their spaces accordingly,” says Harre. Some of the trends we are seeing include allocating more space for strength training, including swapping out some cardio equipment for dedicated weight rooms and functional training areas. Facilities are offering a wider variety of strength training equipment, including free weights, machines, squat racks, and kettlebells. We see more personalized training options, such as small group training and one-on-one training where applicable. And if facilities are unable to support live training, the use of technology to enhance the strength training experience has proven to be highly beneficial, such as digital exercise guidance and virtual reality training.

By carefully planning and executing strategic design changes, operators can create an environment that caters to the growing demand for strength training, fostering a thriving community of fitness enthusiasts while maximizing the value of their facilities,” says Joe Harre.

Contact Aktiv to design your strength training space today.


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