Pump Up Your Facility with Cutting-Edge Fitness

As featured in Multi-Housing News
By Bryan Green, President, Advantage Fitness Products

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It’s no secret that today’s consumers, particularly those choosing premium hotels and resorts, are increasingly fitness-minded and intent on maintaining active lifestyles while traveling. It’s critical that these properties equip themselves to meet the demands of an audience that knows the difference between today’s “state-of-the-art” and yesterday’s “old news.”

If your facility is geared to the luxury market and features contemporary amenities, your hotel fitness offerings should follow suit. Also, resort or extended-stay properties must incorporate enough variety in equipment as well as fitness “flex-space” to create the right experience for their guests.

On a recent trip to the International Health, Racquet Club and Spa Association (IHRSA) show in San Francisco, the annual global trade summit for the fitness and wellness industry’s largest brands and innovative start-up companies, I saw a host of superior products to help you accomplish this goal.

My mission, as always, was to find new corporate fitness solutions and opportunities that fit the unique environments of hotels, spas, and other non-traditional facilities. This year, three categories in particular stood out as “must haves” for the resort and recreational market:

Acceleration Training
You may have heard the recent “buzz” (no pun intended) about Acceleration Training (a.k.a. “whole body vibration”). It’s a modality that’s emerged rapidly and is becoming increasingly popular with mainstream health clubs and spas around the world. As is often the case with new trends, Acceleration Training’s popularity was spurred by its widely reported use by celebrities such as Madonna, P-Diddy and many others. However, this is not a short-lived fad, but rather a legitimate exercise innovation, offering benefits comparable to conventional fitness methods in only 15-minute sessions, three times a week.

In an effort to make a long, high-tech explanation short as possible, Acceleration Training devices like the popular Power Plate pro5 model look like large, sexy scales and feature a central platform that vibrates between 25-50 times per second. Standing on the vibrating platform elicits a natural reflex in response to the vibrations where the body contracts its muscles, stiffening itself in order to maintain stability. Why such short training sessions? Because these muscle contractions occur in response to every single vibration…that’s 25-50 contractions per second! Do the math, and it’s pretty obvious how much muscular activity is taking place in such a short time period.

The benefits include increased muscle strength, flexibility and bone density and expedited weight loss just to name a few. What makes this modality even more applicable to the resort/hotel environment is that it also offers classic spa-related benefits including skin enhancement, cellulite reduction, deep-tissue massage, detoxification and stress and pain reduction. Power Plate North America has pioneered this training method, and the traffic around their booth at the IHRSA show made it clear that Acceleration Training has truly arrived. Also underscoring this arrival were at least seven other companies now offering Acceleration Training products including Free Motion Fitness, FitVibe and TurboSonic.

Functional Training
Functional fitness refers to exercises or products that enhance fitness levels as they relate specifically to performing the basic activities and movements of our daily lives. So instead of just developing bigger or tighter legs, functional-fitness techniques enhance our ability to use our legs within our daily activities, whether those activities are as simple as climbing stairs at the apartment or running the bases in a co-ed softball league.

Functional fitness products attempt to mimic the natural tendencies inherent to our basic physical movements. To date, the fitness industry has provided a bundle of great products that allow us to train “functionally” while incorporating strength equipment. However, few have been able to adapt this concept well in respect to cardiovascular equipment beyond the basics of walking on a treadmill. That is, until now.

The product that most impressed me in this area was from Precor, the company that invented the elliptical machine. Precor’s new machine is called the Adaptive Motion Trainer and it takes the concept of functional fitness to another level. Where a typical elliptical machine offers one elliptical plane of motion, the AMT offers endless options, literally adapting to the natural movement of the user. If you take a wider step to address a different muscle group, the AMT moves right along with you. If you shorten your stride and begin a hiking motion, the unit turns into a form-fitting stair climber. No doubt, guests will begin looking for these units after using them in their local health clubs.

Clean Training
Hygiene is critical, whether your facility is an upscale hotel or resort spa or fitness center. It’s logical (and correct) to assume that an environment where individuals are collectively breathing and sweating heavily is a hot bed for germs. Hygiene is a major and growing area of emphasis within health and fitness facilities.

While it may be common to see spray bottles and towels available as standard hygiene amenities, these can actually add to the problem. “Over-spray” and the very nature of spray devices create further challenges as guests are now breathing these airborne cleansers and disinfectants. In a 2006 industry survey by Coyle Hospitality Group, 91 percent of participants stressed cleanliness as an aspect of “major” concern when evaluating a fitness center.

Two products on display at IHRSA were extremely practical and effective. Gojo has created a sleek and classy automated hand-towel dispenser. Utilizing motion-sensor technology, the user simply swipes their hand beneath the wall-mounted dispenser and a disinfectant towel emerges for use. Another such product was Athletix Wipes, which featured a sharp-looking stainless steel floor dispenser. While these products don’t re-create the wheel, they feature subtle yet highly-practical innovations to increase hygiene awareness among your staff and guests. With these established products, you will enhance the overall aesthetic environment and provide customers with added peace of mind.

Fitness centers are not static, but rather living and evolving environments. As fitness methods change and innovations are introduced, consumer expectations and demands also change. Consumers become accustomed to the new trends and products they experience at home or in their local health clubs. This provides resort and recreational fitness managers with an opportunity to embrace these trends and move the guest experience and customer satisfaction to another level.

Bryan Green is President and CEO of Advantage Fitness Products, a company dedicated to providing fitness solutions to non-fitness companies. AFP offers a full complement of services including Planning, Design, Supply, Service, and ongoing facility Support to help make fitness a valuable and profitable offering for clients across several industries including: Hospitality; Professional & Collegiate Sports; Education & Recreation; Property Management; Corporations; Municipalities & Government Organizations; Medical, Health & Wellness Organizations; and Private Clubs. For more information regarding Advantage Fitness Products and our solutions, please call us at 888-895-0547.