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Leisure Management - Fusion fitness


Fusion fitness

Fitness enthusiasts are on the hunt for new ways to elevate their workouts. Fusion fitness is fitting the bill by making strength training more accessible

Fusion fitness opens up the opportunity to get creative with a wide range of equipment Indigo fitness
Jordan Fitness
Safeguard open spaces and don’t crowbar them in at the end of an equipment-centric design Precor/Queenax
Physical Company’s repetoire includes free weights, group exercise, functional, and small group training Physical Company
Matrix Fitness has developed programmes and equipment for fusion

Fusion fitness combines elements into a single format. Popular examples include ‘Piloxing’, a mix of Pilates and Boxing and the combining of group exercise with cardio and strength training.

“Fusion classes combine cardio, strength training, bodyweight movements and mobility,” explains Matt Cottle, master coach at Precor. “They’re accessible and scalable to any member of the gym community and enable members to experience continuous improvement through high-intensity interval training, so they never hit a plateau.” 

As fusion fitness evolves, it’s becoming tech-driven, in terms of delivery and member experience. This is leading to greater opportunity for interactive, immersive and on-demand workouts, where gym members can combine their favourite equipment and training methods with personalised, engaging content – a fusion of physical and digital.

“Technology and content are the present and future of the industry, creating countless possibilities for fusion-style workouts,” believes Jill Drummond, from Freemotion Fitness. 

The growing demand for multi-discipline workouts means we’ll see ever more creativity from operators, dreaming up previously unseen combinations of training methods to entice new and existing members through the doors.

What’s causing the boom?
The industry has moved to a more experiential model, largely propelled by Millennials and Gen Z, who value experiences over material assets.
“Fusion fitness is adaptable and is especially beneficial for anyone looking to make new friends while they enjoy a multi-discipline workout,” says Marc Edwards, from the Jordan Training Academy. “It’s possible to train every movement pattern in a single session and there’s social interaction and subsequently a feeling of integration.”

Another factor is workout efficiency – fusion workouts allow exercisers to squeeze more into every session, as Matt Gleed from Matrix Fitness explains: “Gone are the days where members used to spend hours in the gym doing an hour of cardio, then some strength, before heading poolside, they want the most effective workout in the most efficient timeframe. This is why combining, or fusing training techniques has become popular, especially for small group training.”

The mass appeal of fusion fitness is also thought to be contributing to the growth. “It’s suitable for all ages, genders and abilities – fusion fitness offers something for everyone,” says Ben Steadman, from Pulse. “Couple this with great locations and venues and the fusion market is thriving. Amazing lighting and sound, combined with an engaging experience are driving this market forward.”

Don’t forget the bigger picture, says Physical Company’s James Anderson, who believes fusion offers the variety people crave: “Functional training is also fusion fitness. While many see it as a series of strength exercises, it’s a catch-all term that encompasses a wide variety of exercises and disciplines, making it the ultimate full-body, fusion workout.

“We’re encouraging operators to shift their mindset,” says Anderson. “Free weights, group exercise, functional, and small group training are the styles members are increasingly looking for, and this demands a new approach to facility design. You have to safeguard open spaces and not crowbar them in at the end of an equipment-centric design.

Strength and group ex
The list of strength training benefits is long – increasing bone density, metabolism and lean muscle mass while improving body mechanics and decreasing the risk of chronic disease. However, statistics from ukactive suggest only 24 per cent of women and 34 per cent of men aged 19 to 65 are performing two strength training sessions a week, as per the government’s guidelines. The question is, why?

The most likely reasons are fear of injury, gymtimidation, a shortage of strength training knowledge, lack of funds to hire a PT, a dislike of strength training, or a combination of the above.

Strength training in a group exercise class or a small group training programme has the power to overcome these barriers, explains Drummond. “Fusion workouts offer a taste of multiple formats, they don’t require participants to be an expert in any one area. They thrive on variety and they’re the perfect way to introduce a new format to your members without the gymtimidation.”

Gleed believes fusion workouts hold the key to encouraging a higher percentage of a gym’s community to incorporate strength training into their routines. “By mixing group exercise and strength, you reach new target groups. Members who never prioritised strength training on the gym floor find it fun and accessible in a group setting,” he says.

“Fusion fitness has made strength training exciting, immersive and different,” says Steadman. “Historically, strength was seen as male-dominated and group exercise was a female domain. Fusion has made this a free-for-all. There are many incredible group exercise offerings that are as effective for men as they are for women and vice versa.” 

Fusion fitness is evolving and being influenced by other emerging areas of the industry, so partnerships between operators and suppliers are essential. “We’re listening to operators and offering them special touches that aid the delivery of a premium fusion experience,” says Steadman. “Tech is playing a major role in our equipment in 2020. Making experiences more immersive is a big part of the success of the fusion fitness market.”

Tom Rooke from Indigo Fitness says: “Strength training has been around for years but recently, interest in it has grown, due to CrossFit-type workouts and their exposure on social media. This increased knowledge in the wider public has allowed for stigmas to be countered and overcome.”

Indigo Fitness is working with operators to create tailored solutions by combining experience and innovation. “We enable operators to deliver fusion fitness by combining knowledge of strength training with bespoke manufactured rigs and storage with suitable flooring; this lifts training areas to the next level,” says Rooke.

“Small group training on a rig can combine strength training with high-intensity interval training for up to 10 or 12 people at a time,” which is “the epitome of fusion fitness,” says Pete McCall, master trainer at Core Health & Fitness. “Any of these products and programmes – combined with a talented and engaging coach – can deliver the solutions operators want to provide for members.”

Trygga Fitness does fusion

Trygga Fitness Sweden has created new workouts including “HIIT n RUN” that combines HIIT and aerobic exercise to build strength, stamina and endurance. Offered in one-hour sessions and led by an experienced instructor, the class incorporates training with dumbbells, treadmills, benches and the Core Health & Fitness BoxMaster conditioning machine to deliver a full-body cardio workout.

Trygga Fitness Sweden
Ben Steadman, Pulse
"Strength training used to be male- dominated, but fusion fitness has made it a free for all"
Fusion at TigerFit

Chris Clark, co-owner of TigerFit in Minneapolis with his wife Tracie, believes in a training model based on mobility, stability and strength. They specified the Freemotion Fusion CST to create a total body workout that fuses cardio with strength.

Through his background working with elite athletes, Clark has created a 45-minute Fusion CST workout, as well as combining Fusion CST with other calorie-burning equipment such as the Freemotion Incline Trainer. Athletes training at TigerFit have been able to focus on strength while also improving agility and speed.

He said: “Soon, we’ll be blending Fusion CST workouts with the new Freemotion CoachBike to create a new cardio and strength experience.”

Pete McCall, master trainer, Core Health & Fitness
"Small group training on a rig can combine strength with HIIT, making it the epitome of fusion fitness"
Get kitted up
The surge in fusion fitness is causing many industry manufacturers to develop equipment, gym layout and education solutions
Jill Drummond, Freemotion Fitness.

Freemotion Fitness has invented a new fusion fitness machine, with programming, called Fusion CST (Cardio Strength Trainer), which will launch summer 2020. “It’s geared at countering gymtimidation while providing a great experience,” says Drummond. “Enabling individuals that are nervous about hitting the weight section a chance to do weight training, together with cardio, in one of the most popular formats – group training,” she says.

“Members get the benefits of strength and cardio – burning fat and building muscle in record time. Another feature of the Fusion CST is its open design, which makes it accessible to all and challenging for each individual.”

"Fusion workouts offer a taste of multiple formats – perfect for adding variety"

The connection between equipment and education is paramount, as Gleed explains: “Matrix Fitness has developed programmes and equipment to provide operators with options to incorporate fusion fitness.

“The Sprint8 programme, which can be used across all cardio equipment, creates a 20-minute workout to target the four pillars of fitness; strength, endurance, power, and cardio, in a workout with undulating periodisation.

“We’ve also developed MX4 and MX4 Active small group training programmes to combine cardio and strength for active and deconditioned users, so there’s a class for every ability,” he says.

According to Cottle, Precor is also enhancing its fusion fitness offering by devising programmes that enable operators to maximise their equipment. “Precor offers kit tailored to fusion-style workouts, such as the Queenax rig, which offer a choice of exercises and group training options. To complement this, the Precor Coaching centre has created programmes to add value to operators and infinite fusion fitness training options, which will launch later this year.”

Jordan Fitness has turned its attention to programming, as Edwards explains: “Fusion fitness is a perfect blend of every modality of functional training and for us, has led to the creation of our Ignite Group Exercise Programme.

“Made up of six elements of movement-based activities, IGNITE workouts (Pump, Strike, Lift, Swing, Move, Stretch) use a mix of functional equipment, from studio barbells to sandbags in the pursuit of individual performance.”

Freemotion Fitness

Originally published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 6
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06 Apr 2020 issue 153

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