In a recent discussion during Club Industry‘s Future of Fitness, panel member James Fitzsimmons, Director of Fitness and Rec. Sports at Univ. of Nevada, Reno (UNR) made two great remarks. When asked, “Is outdoor training a must?” Jim chuckled, “It always has been. When has it NOT been a thing?” Later describing the opening of UNR’s brand new, modern rec and athletic facility where new outdoor training was planned but not yet installed (an extensive outdoor training area was now half a mile away) the only complaint Jim was getting was, “But we can’t go outside.” As a facility that had dedicated outdoor training, then lost it (and established it again) the UNR rec. team discovered it was a very important component to their health and wellness offering, more than they’d anticipated.

Many rec. centers, health clubs and studios are fortunate to have at least some ground area where they can offer members the chance to train outside. Those who adapted their parking lots and side yards during this past year learned quickly, what worked (heavy duty tents, individual outdoor training pods that could be reserved, and outdoor heaters) and what didn’t – often this was simply tied to the weather.

All discussion panelists agreed, it’s not too late for a gym to begin planning an outdoor fitness solution. And, it is most definitely part of the Future of Fitness.

Other considerations for outdoor training centers:

  • Members love the increased level of safety outside, fresh air and vitamin D

  • Consider seasonality as it impacts your chosen outdoor space. Will you need heaters, natural or purchased shade cover, the best equipment location (relative to sun or other weather) these and several other small details can help ensure the best set up and experience

  • Find ways to work with or around the weather, by changing up training methods and class offerings

- UNR made an event out of shoveling snow and had people lined up

  • There is a learning curve and uncertainty that comes with some outdoor rigs and unfamiliar equipment. Take care to address the first-timer jitters;

- Show members how to use unique training tools though group fitness classes

- Offer “Intro. to Outdoor Training…bring a friend” sessions

- Incorporate proper technique, safe equipment handling and storage

- Share images of equipment in-use via social media and club communications

  • Outdoor events previously reserved for fundraisers and “cash-grabs” are now used as a valuable part of member retention

  • Be sure the instructor team tasked with outdoor training is interested in that role. Not every staff person or club member wants to train or be trained outdoors.

Most operators agree that outdoor fitness is a healthy, safe option for the commercial fitness industry and is here to stay. Summed up nicely by Eric Schmitz, President of California Athletic Clubs, “Out of 10 it’s an 11 for the members.…You’ve got to plan for it, at least seasonally. ... I can’t recommend it enough to any fitness facility to figure out how to have that in your offerings.” and “All your competition will have it.”

Foundation Fitness team of Sales +Design Consultants have created athletic training rooms, studios and fitness centers of all shapes and sizes. Our extensive experience and broad manufacturer portfolio give us the tools to create innovative spaces both indoors and out. Please reach out to learn more about how to incorporate outdoor training into your club offering.

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Written for Foundation Fitness LLC by Sarah Sager


1 - Club Industry Future of Fitness Panel Discussion, Get Outside, Is Outdoor Training Now a Must? March 10, 2021

2 – Conversations with team members from Beaver Fit Outdoor, Escape Fitness and StayFit Outdoor equipment manufacturing

3- Thank you to The Bay Club for submitting some images

#outdoorfitness #outdoortraining #outdoorfitnessequipment #Beaverfit #stayfitoutdoor #foundationfitness #fitnesscenterdesign #outdoorgym

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