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Entries in obstacle course (2)


How to Bring the Obstacle Course Craze to Your Gym

This is an IHRSA featured post, brought to you by Power Systems.

Fitness trends come and go, attracting people who throw themselves into the next big thing only to abandon it weeks later. Health club operators are smart to take the long view before investing in a flashy new workout obsession. It’s not always clear what has staying power, but when something takes hold, you ignore it at your peril. 

Continue reading "How to Bring the Obstacle Course Craze to Your Gym."

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Is building an onsite obstacle course a good idea?

The obstacle course at the Newtown Athletic Club.Many clubs have catered workouts and personal trainers' programs to the endurance race craze. If a member wants to prepare for the Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race then a club certainly wants to give its members the tools.

This week's Best Practices inquires about creating an obstacle course on club grounds. Jim Worthington, president and CEO of Newtown Athletic Club, talks about how his club created one.

Q: "There was recently a Spartan Race in town that made me think about turning the vacant lot next to the club into an obstacle training grounds to help individuals train for these kinds of races.  Any suggestions on how to get started?"

 A: We built an obstacle course about a year ago at one of our smaller clubs and found that it was very successful. The idea formulated when we saw how popular mud runs were becoming and postulated that people would want to train in a more organic way. There was a nice plot of land adjacent to our Fitlife Performance Training Center that seemed suitable. The general manager at Fitlife and the NAC Sports Training Center, Josh Tyler, conceived and implemented this project by doing initial research with friends and family who are and were in the service. He also researched what many of the obstacle course races had for their obstacles. To build the obstacle course Josh found a retired marine who was a landscape architect who laid out the course using his experience as a Marine combined with Josh’s research.   Materials can be quite expensive and unique so Josh searched auctions, Craigslist and the like for used utility poles, for example. His solution was to use dock pylons, which he got for free as they are hard to dispose of since they are waterproof. Other material sources are junk yards, garages and steel fabricators for tires and spare steel. Some things had to be ordered and custom fabricated. The benefit of an obstacle course is the added value for the member experience. You can also set up practice runs and races as well as training clubs and class series. There is a strong enough market for this type of training that it can definitely be fee based or even available to non-members and used as a feeder for overall club membership. 

Jim Worthington
Newtown Athletic Club



One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website,, is “Best Practices,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered.