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Take Your Health Club’s Outdoor Fitness to the Next Level

With the right gear, you can bring all the advantages of strength training to any environment.

Health club and fitness professionals have long been skilled in adapting to changing market conditions. That’s never been more tested than now. Faced with the ultimate disruption of COVID-19, health clubs have shown a remarkable ability to establish new best practices and adjust their environment to keep members safe and engaged.

One strategy that’s emerged during the staggered reopening is moving group X classes and workouts outdoors. This isn’t a luxury every facility has, but for those clubs who have space that they can utilize, it’s created more opportunity to deliver group fitness instruction to members.

A big reason expanding services outdoors is a good idea is that you can accommodate more customers. With social distancing a factor in limiting capacity in health clubs (especially during peak hours), having the ability to divert the spillover to another location can solve a lot of problems.

Is it safer to exercise outdoors? Experts haven’t reached a firm consensus on the question, according to news reports, but it’s always great for clubs to have that option. In fact, being able to adjust your training floor schematics and offering outdoor and digital choices appears to be part of a successful strategy for reopening. Again, it’s all about adapting to the moment.

Even with these options available, clubs have found it difficult to incorporate performance training, especially functional training (FT) classes, into the new gym environment. Much like high-energy HIIT classes, this group X concept requires shared equipment among several people, something that doesn’t work with social distancing. But, as with all things fitness, there’s a workaround.

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Group Instruction and Weight Training Under Social Distancing

As reported by IHRSA, offering group instruction, such as FT classes, under current guidelines requires some or all of the following adjustments:

  • Restricting class size;
  • Preventing congregating of members before, after, and during class;
  • Possibly marking spots on the floor for equipment placement and standing position that reinforces six feet of separation between exercisers;
  • Eliminating non-essential physical contact (e.g., no high-fives, postural adjustments, etc.). Increase the use of verbal cueing or video demonstration over physical touch cues;
  • Ready access to cleaning equipment, wipes, and/or sanitizer;
  • Don’t set up and change weights, mats, or other equipment for clients. In normal times this is considered excellent customer service, but during an outbreak, it makes more sense to avoid touching the same surfaces;
  • Communicate to members their responsibility in using towels and wipes to clean surfaces and equipment they use.

As outlined in an IHRSA webinar, “Reopening Strategy Lessons from HV/LP Health Clubs,” high-traffic clubs need to rethink their equipment floor design. According to the webinar: “Many clubs are blocking off cardio equipment or completely removing free weight items in order to assure social distancing. Some are installing shields between pieces of equipment.”

With weights and accessories common in performance and functional training classes (e.g., medicine balls, straps, kettlebells, etc.), this is more of a challenge. “Adhering to these new regulations seems to be easier with cardio equipment than the free weight area, where equipment like benches and dumbbells are often moved around.”

This takes away one of the strongest assets for today’s gyms. Health club operators need a bold new concept to continue offering this effective and popular workout. One solution, alluded to earlier in this article, is taking the weights outside.

This may seem impractical, but a new concept is now available that will allow clubs to bring the highest quality weight training equipment to any environment—including outdoors.

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The Box that Thinks Outside of the Box

Hammer Strength has introduced the Hammer Strength Outdoor Box through a unique collaboration with BeaverFit: an innovative functional training rig that allows clubs to take all of the equipment for performance training and FT classes outdoors. The Outdoor Box has lockable storage for accessories and is designed to handle even the harsh elements of unpredictable weather conditions.

Constructed of seven-gauge, galvanized steel, the Hammer Strength Outdoor Box offers everything you need in a weight training station, including Olympic training stations and a convenient storage space for equipment and accessories. It doesn’t require a bolt-down attachment and offers custom-branded signage.

Best of all, you have your choice of Hammer Strength’s award-winning accessories line to supply your Outdoor Box. Cerakote Olympic bars, kettlebells, bumper plates, battle ropes, slam balls, power bands, and more—the entire inventory of high-quality training tools from one of the industry’s highest-rated equipment suppliers.

J.P. Stockton, product director for Hammer Strength, says the Outdoor Box was designed to answer the concerns that club operators have in offering performance training during the pandemic.

“It became a top priority to expand the training space and figure out how we can get weight training outdoors,” says Stockton. “We want owners to get their facilities back open and welcome their customers back with something new and exciting.”

Because of the nature of the virus and the restrictions it places on indoor environments, the Hammer Strength Outdoor Box will allay many of your members’ concerns, according to Stockton.

“It increases the comfort level to be able to do performance weight training outside. And the accessories that we are recommending will help increase this perception. For instance, instead of soft fabric slam bells, we're offering specially made slam balls that don’t collect dust as you throw them on the ground and are easy to wipe off and clean.”

Even when the weather inevitably turns in the winter, the Hammer Strength Outdoor Box is built to withstand harsh elements and can remain outdoors year-round. And for those clubs in warmer climates, it can turn your club into the go-to place for performance and functional training throughout the year.

Learn more about the revolutionary Hammer Strength Outdoor Box on this page. You can also request more information here.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org