The Evolution of Functional Training Rigs: How Operators Can Capitalise

Danny Armsby is Business Development Director at EXF Fitness. We spoke to Danny about

  • The growth of functional training rigs
  • Design trends, and
  • How operators can get the most ROI from their investment

Rigs are growing in use and popularity. What’s driving this trend?

Functional training has been on the ACSM’s list of growing trends for a while now, steadily gaining in popularity over the years. The increase is in part, due to the renewed interest in getting back to basics. There’s every possible style of training available if you want it, but now, people want to harness the power of their own body weight. The rise of things like calisthenics and CrossFit are helping to fuel this trend, encouraging more people to skip the cardio machines and incorporate functional training into their fitness programmes.

How can you make a functional rig both aesthetically appealing and serve the needs of members?

Increasingly operators and users place focus purely on the aesthetics of equipment, often overlooking functionality. The result of that means operators threaten the longevity of a functional rig. With this in mind we place primary focus on the initial design stage of a rig to ensure that the solution we provide is relevant to your current fitness offering with the ability to evolve a rig at any time in line with fitness trends.

Spend time with your chosen supplier to align your customers training goals with your facility. Following this stage its important to consider the aesthetic appeal, ensuring your bespoke rig is non-imposing and in keeping with the look and feel of your facility. Using non-standard angles, embracing existing structures and using bespoke colours and branding can help make you to create a unique statement piece of equipment. This will help to separate your rig from the competition. Also, consider incorporating storage solutions for loose items to help keep your gym floor and rig space tidy.

What options are available for gyms with challenge spaces?

A bespoke design is critical for challenges spaces, such as restricted heights, difficult access areas etc.  When created correctly, your gym will flourish, but with poor planning – or simply settling for a mass-produced rig – your functional training zone can seriously limit your space’s capabilities. If you have a good partner and a clear goal in mind, you should be able to find a way to achieve any ambition. We’ve fitted rigs to everything from existing ceiling beams to internal walls. Don’t settle. Be creative and work with your partner to find something that will make optimum use of your space.

How have functional rigs changed over the years? What new design elements are trending now?

Gym rigs often look very similar to each other. Mass-produced and basic, rigs of the past really fail to capture members attention and interest and can often be overlooked, despite occupying a massive piece of real estate on the gym floor. However, a functional rig is one of the most adaptable pieces of equipment in your gym. Nowadays, people are getting much more creative. At EXF we pride ourselves on early innovations, for instance our first functional rig designs evolved from developing half and full racks into multi-purpose training stations.

With the growth of functional training and methods of training we are faced with a daily challenge of providing rigs into a range of sectors from S&C to boutique.

At the moment we’re seeing a huge demand for boxing rigs and to incorporate this style of training into our rigs.  If you’re contemplating installing large punch bags, you’ll need to consider how it fits into your space. For instance, at Third Space City we designed and installed a bespoke rail which can filter bags in and out of their combat area.

Other trends we seeing include a demand for functional training rigs to become part of their surroundings. Rigs are now becoming part of the structure just like your flooring and walls to blend into a training space itself.

There’s also a huge demand for fitting and designing functional training rigs into a class format.

What can gyms do to make sure members get the most out of a rig investment?

Make your functional training zone a key part of your offering. Location in the club is key to success. Ensure you get the right setup and placement so that people easily flow around your rig and the facility.

You can also give members a reason to use the rig by creating bespoke classes. This is what The Third Space did recently with The Yard. We worked with The Third Space to transform the Canary Wharf site’s former sports hall into a dedicated 745 square metre flexible training space. With the new space comes a variety of new class concepts which take place in the main rig area, while a dedicated combat zone on a mezzanine level can host more members for other sorts of workouts. Embracing the trend toward larger flexible training areas, the rig is 220 cubic metres making it one of the largest in London.


Posted in The Fitness Network.