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Entries in free weights (6)


Best Practices: Concerns About Seniors and Weight Lifting

The following post was written by Colin Milner for our Best Practices series.

Question: We’re concerned about several members in their 80s and 90s who use weights. How can we help them without seeming to hover

Colin Milner: This is a great question, as it’s a common concern at clubs. While it’s well-intentioned, fears about older people using weights are largely unnecessary.

Many studies, including one conducted at Tufts University, have shown that older adults can double, or even triple, their muscle strength by participating in progressive strength training. The subjects in the Tufts study experienced no untoward incidents, and their quality of life greatly improved.

While there are definitely frail individuals, the notion that older adults, in general, shouldn’t exercise is an unsubstantiated myth. Certainly, as individuals age, they’ll have more health issues and, potentially, increased risks, but they’re pretty rare. Older clients should undergo an appropriate fitness assessment, and every club should have an emergency plan in place in case there’s a problem.

Given the fact that 80% of people over age 75 have no functional limitations that require assistance, I’d simply let these members know that your team is there to help when—and if—they require it. However, I wouldn’t dote on them. Older members can be a very rewarding group to work with. All you have to do is let them be strong.

Colin Milner
International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
Vancouver, Canada 


How to Compete with the Boutique Studio Trend

This is an associate feature post, sponsored by Iron Grip Barbell Company

If you’re offering group exercise classes at your gym, you already know why the classes appeal to your members. Now more than ever, today’s fitness consumer isn’t just looking for an activity (running, lifting weights, cycling)—they’re looking for an enriching experience. Gym goers expect their workouts to be challenging and motivating, but they're also looking for that feeling of camaraderie and social connection. 

No doubt exercising in a group setting can offer the right combination of communal support and group accountability that keeps a certain type of member engaged. But if you’re not already offering a program that focuses specifically on strength training in a group format, you could be missing a huge opportunity to connect with these members, and open up a more compelling path to retention. 

Here are the top reasons why your club needs group strength training on the schedule: 

Strength training is (still) wildly popular. According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2016 worldwide survey, strength training still holds as the fourth most popular fitness trend among consumers. The editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® call it an “essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders.” 

What other activity appeals to such a wide cross-section of your overall membership? So many women are encouraged by the evidence that weight bearing exercise can increase energy levels, help burn fat faster, and ward off osteoporosis that they are embracing a “strong is the new skinny” mindset. But many members want the benefits of strength training as well as the feel of community that only a group setting can provide. 

Group strength training classes are the perfect complement to other group activities. Your members may crave their weekly dose of Zumba-fueled booty-shaking, or rely on a sanity-restoring savasana at the end of a hectic workday, but the most energizing cardio or relaxing stretching can get boring fast if you don’t provide options to mix up those routines. Not only do members need and demand variety to keep them motivated, but for the best results, a balanced fitness lifestyle incorporates strength training. 

So while the ever-popular yoga practice helps improve flexibility, breathing, and balance, a class that focuses on weight-bearing exercises will fill in the gap to build strength, burn fat, and increase bone density. And while getting your heart pumping is key to cardiovascular stamina, nothing reshapes a body and improves health more completely and effectively than strength training. 

Strength training classes won’t just keep members from losing interest, they’ll keep them in your club. Group exercise in general is a popular retention tool for keeping members engaged and motivated. But consider it also as a stepping stone to taking advantage of all your club has to offer. 

The growing popularity of boutique fitness studios (barre, spinning, yoga) or boot camp-style small group training (including CrossFit) means you need to compete to keep members at your full-service facility. A robust group exercise program offers the social experience members yearn for, but group strength classes in particular provide members with something more—a gateway to feeling comfortable using more areas of your club. 

For members who want to learn to strength train but might be intimidated by the weight room, group strength classes provide a welcoming space where they can familiarize themselves with barbells, weight plates, and basic free weight exercises that will help them see results fast and, importantly, introduce them to the rest of your club. 

That’s why it’s important to offer group strength training equipment that is user-friendly and ergonomic, but that also shares the same heavy-duty look of the equipment in the free weight training area outside the group ex studio. If members become comfortable with free weight training in the group ex studio, then it’s only a matter of time before they graduate to using other areas of the club on their own, which helps drive home the value of your full-service club. 

It may even be a bridge to one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer, or eventually specialized high-performance athletic coaching. And an engaged member—who is seeing results and utilizing all areas of the club—is one you’re more likely to keep. 

Iron Grip Barbell Company is the only commercial free weight provider to offer a complete line of exclusively American-made dumbbells, weight plates, and Olympic bars. They operate their own state-of-the-art factory in Southern California to ensure strict quality control and hands-on customer service. Iron Grip is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial free weights, with 23 years of innovation and expertise in the fitness industry. For more information, visit


Weights are not losing popularity to niche exercises

Even though functional equipment, CrossFit, high intensity interval training, small group training and obstacle course races are super hot right not it doesn't mean free weights are collecting dust in the corner.

Actually, the popularity of these niche exercises have forced companies to innovate and produce new products that not only stand on their own but complement the CrossFits and Tough Mudders rather nicely.

“Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen free weights migrate from basic strength training, to group exercise training, to small-group personal training, to functional training,” said Michael Rojas, president of Iron Grip Barbell Company. “Strength training has tracked a steady trajectory of rising popularity.” 

Check out what else free weight businesses are saying, as well as the accompanying product showcase in CBI magazine.


Top 10 workout myths

Myths have been around since the start of time. Whether it is folklore, old wives tales and the like, someone claims something and a week later the tale has grown to, well, mythical proportions. I am sure that is how the idea that the earth was flat and if you sailed too far you would drop off the edge was started.

The fitness industry is not immune to this. There are myths abound - working with weights will make you jacked, or 1,000 crunches will give you 6-pack abs.

The Washington Post came up with its top 10 exercise myths.

Check them out here.



IHRSA 2013 exhibitor profile: Iron Grip

It’s an exciting year for Iron Grip Barbell Company at the 32nd Annual International Convention & Trade Show. For Iron Grip, it will be the 20th time it is showcasing on the trade show floor, on the middle two days of the March 19-22 event. 

In addition to its quality dumbbells, plates and bars, a stop at booth 573 should bring plenty of other excitement. It will also have T-shirts, photos ops and other surprises. 

Read on for more on Iron Grip. 


What are the Future Trends for Free Weights?

Steve Krum and Joan Carter discuss the trends, sales growth and future potential for free weights in this week's Best Practices

Q: "What are the trends, sales growth and future potential for free weights?

A: The "crystal ball" for free weight sales growth and trends is extremely bright because of one word.......functional. As we all have seen, functional types of exercise involving core and all the stabilizing muscle groups seem to be the hottest trend in our strength arena. Free weights also solve the "muscle confusion" goal of so many fitness professionals because of the endless possibilities of exercises available to them. In addition to the positive future of free weights, we are also seeing another whole host of "supporting cast" vendors develop with tools, benches, programs, and classes that utilize free weights as the main character. 

It is great to see clubs adapt by increasing their free weight menu and by integrating large open functional areas into, or adjacent to their free weights. This allows multiple trainers to efficiently access "their tools" and design each clients workout. It is impressive to see the creativity of many of our fitness professionals using free weights. These positive trends are here to stay because they are fueled by the results our members are achieving.

Steve Krum
General Manager
Spectrum Clubs

A: One of the biggest trends seen in free weights area is a substantially broadening demographic. While this area was once considered the domain of young males trying to get bigger and more muscular, we now see the addition of an older male clientele and women of all ages.

This new group of users is looking for better overall accommodation for user size, takeoff weights that are lighter for less experienced users, as well as better movement patterns for more effective training.  It also means that aesthetics of products found in this area have taken on new importance.  Appearance – which has been the norm in other areas of the facility – are now applicable to free weight areas as well.

From the facility standpoint, we see a desire for products that allow the free weight area to be a more open and inviting floor plan as well as being consistent with the design of the rest of the facility.

Joan Carter
Vice Chairman
CYBEX International


This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices series. We post a new question and answer every Monday morning. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.