We sat down with Candace Murray, Territory Sales Manager for Advantage in Atlanta's Multi-Family and Hospitality markets, to discuss the recent trends in functional fitness and technology.
What are some upcoming trends that you’re seeing in your industry?
Since I’ve started selling to multi-family complexes 4 years ago, fitness has really evolved and changed. What we’re really seeing and what we will continue to see evolving in the next few years is a design for functional, open space. Having more functional accessories and frames gives facilities the flexibility to offer something besides the standard cardio and strength equipment.
In addition, we have seen technology change quite a bit. Before, you might have just had a TV in front of your cardio equipment, but now it’s all about networked fitness. Having integrated touchscreens where residents can log into their Netflix and Hulu accounts and have their own personal entertainment options at their fingertips is really huge. On the flipside, networked fitness provides a way for properties to track the use of equipment so that they can make better purchasing decisions in the future.
Which of these trends excites you the most?
Functional fitness—creating these specific functional fitness zones. The trends have really gone towards HIIT, strength, and boutique fitness. The challenge is creating a space and product mix that encourages participation and engages people. I think it is fun to put together that kind of package where it makes sense for the needs of the facility. We want to be on track—we want to excite people and let them train the way that they want to train. We’re doing it in a way where we’re fitting in the actual needs for the facility. Plus, the overall look of it is important, creating accessories that not only fit well but bring bright colors to these spaces and adding interest. It’s a cool way to design and create a "wow" while feeling safe with what we’re doing and creating an environment with a HIIT and boutique feel.
How has the industry changed in your experience?
In the multi-family market, the overall importance of a fitness center has grown substantially. Before, it used to be a check in the box, but now they have become a major amenity. A fitness amenity is more important than ever for residents and it influences who they rent from and who they stay with. It’s all about keeping your residents and engaging them in a positive environment where they can have a great workout experience. I see a lot more people who want my input on the design of the fitness space. What does it feel like when you walk in? What is the flooring going to be like? Where do the mirrors go? Everyone wants a great environment for their residents, and they want their fitness space to be a prime amenity.
In other ways, there is a larger social aspect now than ever before. I see more and more group fitness classes, as well as the HIIT and functional fitness aspects. Engaging residents with a social environment and workout experience is what's really driving people to work out.
What is your #1 piece of advice for the people you work with?
I think it’s important to get a consultant involved as early in the process as possible. We can give you advice on the design of the space, power requirements, etc. Don’t just get us involved for the purpose of purchasing equipment! This way you’ll be set up for success in your project.
What are your personal best practices?
The first thing I do when I start a project is get to know the community—what are the residents like, what is the overall vibe of the area? I try to figure out the unique needs. For example, student housing would have much different needs than a senior living facility. I want to see the space and start building a plan. I look at the market they’re in and what their competition is doing.
What is the larger direction of the industry as a whole? Where is it going in the future?
I think technology is really going to continue to evolve. When you go to the gym, you see many people with their own workout apps, online trainers, and virtual instructors. There are so many online fitness resources now. While functional fitness will totally keep going, technology is what we need to keep our eye on. Again, it’s all about engaging people in their workout experience. It’s only going to get bigger and better.
What is your favorite product to recommend or use?
Assault Treadmills—they’re very mobile and can be used for HIIT and functional training.
Escape Corebags, Sandbags and Griprs—these are great, safe, functional products that are accessible for all abilities. They provide intuitive and interesting ways to get a good workout.