Adapting to Functional Fitness at the University of Nevada, Reno

functional fitness

Jim Fitzsimmons, the director of fitness and recreational sports at the University of Nevada, Reno, shares about the necessity to adapt to the functional training movement, as well as the power of the classroom when it comes to using a system like Queenax functional fitness by Precor:

CR: Why has the weight room changed in the last five years?

JF: This is not in order of priority but rather just what a guy whose been doing this since 1991 is seeing.

People in the “industry” often don’t want to hear this, but like it or not, the reality is the advent CrossFit and its derivatives, and the influence it has exerted over the last 15 years, has reshaped the entire fitness industry. Everything from the equipment we purchase, to how we design and/or lay out and program our facilities has, or should have, changed. For example, 10 years ago if you wanted to purchase Olympic lifting shoes, good luck finding them. Aside from some black iron gyms, you never actually saw them on anyone’s feet. Now they are ubiquitous, come in every color imaginable and 30 percent of the students in my facility train in them.

We are in third and fourth generation Title IX females. They have grown up with strength coaches, been exposed to both power and Olympic lifting, and wish to continue this style of training. No longer do they come in looking for cute rubber dumbbells; they hit the place and want to train and train hard. They seek out barbell stations and open space to push sleds and flip tires in. We have 44 barbell racks in our facility, plus jerk stations and pulling blocks; 50 percent of the daily use in these areas is female and the ages vary from 17 to 70.

The strength and conditioning coaching in the high schools in some areas is very good. In fact in many schools, the students are exposed to very good strength and conditioning in their PE classes and this comes to fruition in our facilities. Whether you are ready to admit it or not, fewer and fewer people coming though our doors are interested in a model of fitness that is dependent upon a piece of equipment, and 20 minutes of mild to moderate physical activity. They want and deserve more from us.

The general lack of efficacy in the exercise recommendations, modalities and programs promoted by government agencies, certifying organizations, medicine and other groups has resulted in a significant portion of the exercising public to look elsewhere for the performance improvements they need to maintain functional capacity. Finally, the public has begun to realize that the needs of the soccer mom and the Olympic athlete are the same, just differing magnitudes, but the movements, programming and modalities to successfully meet these needs are the same.

CR: Why do you program your functional training classes in the classroom?

JF: We program group fitness classes in our general use area because programming drives informal use. If people see how something like a pull-up rig or Queenax system is used during a class, they are more apt to make use of it – and make correct use of it. We eliminated personal training in favor of small group coaching, and it’s been one of the most profoundly effective things we have ever done. More people complete the initial training, achieve higher levels of fitness and continue to train independently than with a personal training model.

Like any other facility, we need to provide safe, effective and exciting programming to a wide range of capabilities, interests and work capacities. The need to squeeze more use, and more variety out of every square foot of available space, has led to some really innovative “functional” equipment designs. Our Queenax apparatus is basically a bridge system that fills an entire room, that allows us to teach boxing, silks, acro-yoga, TRX, gymnastics, Spinning and barre pilates all in the same room, and still leaves the middle of the room open for yoga, floor pilates, tumbling and a variety of other programs. It gives us great flexibility in our programming and room use which ultimately benefits the user.


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