Functional Training: Trade Space for a Thriving Fitness Hub

functional training

How many students on college campuses are playing racquetball today? Or require a martial arts studio as part of their campus rec center experience? The answer is not enough to make either of these spaces exciting showpiece destinations when admissions directors are taking prospective students on tour.

And, that’s why campus rec centers on college campuses nationwide are revamping and upping their game. In fact, over the past decade, colleges have increasingly started investing heavily in their rec center fitness facilities to attract students. Millennials are more knowledgeable about the latest training trends, so offering an environment, equipment and programming that excites and motivates them is a must-have for every college.

Recently, Texas Tech converted unused racquetball courts into a functional training area. And, UGA, which includes 17 schools and colleges, attended by more than 36,000 students, turned its underused martial arts studio into a dynamic new functional training room. Both campuses were responding to the growing demand for functional training.

Because functional training has grown in popularity, campus rec centers that offer the latest functional equipment will increase attendance and participation, plus elevate the user experience. For students and faculty, just being in a world-class functional training room for PT sessions and group classes encourages activity — providing a powerful experience that inspires them to get moving in more ways than ever before.

Successful renovations don’t just happen though; there are a few key considerations:

Make to plan. Start renovation projects with planning — as far ahead as possible. Renovation projects include many moving parts. Good planning helps ensure all needs are covered without overlooking important details that maybe difficult to rectify later on.

Define programming. Clearly define programming and space goals. Work closely with PT’s, fitness or strength and conditioning staff to ensure that suitable programming is planned. Solicit user input. Offer student and faculty user surveys.

Choose equipment that supports programming.  The needs of the user clearly define that programming is a necessity, so choosing the right equipment to support that programming is important when enhancing patronage and user experience. When facilities choose equipment before deciding programming, it’s backwards and they end up with equipment and facilities that they don’t know how to program effectively.

10 tips to keep in mind when re-inventing a campus rec center:

  • Innovate now to win big (before being forced to catch up).
  • Clearly differentiate. What are students demanding? Meet that need.
  • Create a consistent level of service.
  • Reinvent how services are marketed.
  • Clearly define a plan and strategy — avoid too many goals or ideas.
  • Prize agility in the business model.
  • Make sure equipment fits both purpose and brand.
  • Cater solutions around member type and ability and support them.
  • Grow a skilled, expert, continually trained team.
  • Have a branded program that keeps the space exciting week after week.


Matthew Januszek is Co-Founder at Escape Fitness. For more information, visit, call 1-614-706-4462 or email

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Define Programming

    January 11, 2018 at 3:11 pm

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