There’s a new trend that has fitness fanatics sprinting through mud, climbing barbed wire, and jumping over unforeseen obstacles – and no, we’re not talking about U.S. Army training. Obstacle course races are sweeping the nation and providing a much-needed challenge for an increasingly fitter America. For gym owners, this means catering to a whole new breed of athlete.
More people are ditching marathons in favor of these physically demanding obstacle course races, and gyms can help by supporting their members’ training regimes. While you don’t necessarily need to be an elite runner to participate in an obstacle course race, it does require a certain level of athleticism and endurance. One of the best ways to support your gym members who partake in this new trend is to provide commercial fitness equipment and specialized personal trainers to address the unique fitness demands of an obstacle course race.
While trainers may not be able to replicate an obstacle course exactly within the confines of a gym, there is plenty that can be done to put members’ bodies through similar strain.
The key is to focus on workout stations and encourage circuit training. According to Active, obstacle course races generally involve some combination of running and body-weight exercises. Future participants can prepare by doing a circuit of running on commercial treadmills, followed by any number of strength training exercises, such as doing pushups, jumping rope, or climbing.
The key to success in an obstacle course race is to get ready for the unexpected, and trainers can prepare gym members to confront whatever is thrown at them by randomly switching circuits and pushing them to constantly do more. Of course, obstacle course races aren’t all about the gimmicks – like crawling through mud. Participants need to be able to handle the distance as well. That’s why it’s so important that trainers make sure gym members don’t neglect the cardio aspects of their fitness routines while they train. At the end of the day, you don’t need a special obstacle course race certification to train your members, you just need to know what kind of obstacles will be a part of the race and what your member’s fitness level is.
Another way to help your members prepare for obstacle course races is to make sure that your gym offers proper commercial fitness equipment for training. As stated above, workout stations and circuit training are key to helping someone prepare for an obstacle course race. You’ll want to make sure that you have the proper equipment to support these kinds of exercises. Here are a few important ones to make sure you’re offering:
Even though obstacle course races are not your average race, endurance is still a crucial factor to your overall performance. In fact, some of the more popular obstacle course races such as the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, range anywhere from 5k to 50k in length! You’ll want to make sure that you provide endurance-focused cardio machines such as treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, climbers and other specialized cardio equipment to help your members train.
Aside from increasing endurance, obstacle course race participants will also need to increase their overall strength. Unlike more traditional races, obstacle course races are filled with, you guessed it – obstacles! These obstacles include things like monkey bars, ropes, floating logs, mesh walls, barbed wire, mud pits and other hurdles beyond your wildest imagination. The best way for your members to prepare themselves for whatever is (literally) thrown at them is the increase their overall core and muscle strength. A few types of strength machines that you’ll want to make sure are available to your members include selectorized machines, functional trainers, composite strength machines, plate-loaded equipment, racks, benches, multi-station machines, free weights, and any other strength-focused equipment.
Obstacle course races are often posed as highly interactive races where you’re constantly encouraging other racers to keep going. Oftentimes participants will sign up with friends or family so that they have a support system and training buddies. In order to cater to this need, it’s important to have group training equipment that will allow multiple members to train together. This means that as a gym owner you should be not only be focused on having the right equipment but also making sure that you have multiples, especially for machines that are commonly used for group training.
Last but not least you’ll want to make sure that you offer flexibility equipment that can be used for stretching. No matter what your members are training for, stretching is a crucial part of every workout. It’s especially important for obstacle course races since your body will be forced to move in ways that it’s not used which creates the perfect scenario for injury. Stretching cages take cooldowns to the next level by offering users a safe platform for comprehensive stretching to increase flexibility.