The way we train is changing. 

Training facilities are no longer about acres of floor space and an overflow of machines. If we accept the need for distinct exercises and dedicated machinery for each body part, the only outcome is square footage, number of floors and pieces of equipment.

The ‘big gym’ model is being challenged.

Whilst the predominant model in commercial (‘big gym’) facilities - the bodybuilding model - treats the human body as a collection of separate parts and attempts to train them individually, vast numbers of gym goers are taking to functional training - strengthening the body as an integrated unit using movements from daily life and sports. 

People are taking to moving their bodies – not machines.

People are uniting around constantly varied, functional movement executed at high intensity. We want Plyo Boxes, Rings and Barbells in our gyms - not machines. Functional training exercises lend themselves to the mind-set of completing a task or mastering a skill rather than performing a set number of repetitions.

Gym design is becoming an exercise in ‘optimising’ not ‘maximising’ square footage. Square footage is no longer seen as the holy grail.

The bodybuilding model requires machines and isolating individual muscles whereas functional training requires, well, your body as the primary accessory with the option of a range of secondary accessories. The outcome is two very different gyms – one that requires lots of space and one that doesn’t - which why we are seeing rapid growth in ‘micro gyms’ - studio gyms, CrossFit boxes or home gyms. Floor space is being carefully designated to maximise variety, function and enjoyment; not your biceps.

And scarcity of space is actually driving creativity and innovation in training methods and equipment choice; not restricting it. And trainers are being compelled to develop new multi-discipline, functional programs (rather than doing laps of the machine floor).


The studio/home gym tradition is being adopted in vast numbers. So where do you start? 

Don’t be mistaken - the ‘micro gym’ isn’t just a scaled down version of your local big gym. The idea of developing a home/studio gym might seem comical when you look at the excess of machines occupying your ‘big gym’ floor. 

Just remember, we’re building strength and functional training facility, not a bodybuilding gym.

You’ll want an Olympic Barbell and Olympic Bumper Plates. If you add pull-up bar you could do an acceptable variant of the CrossFit Program. 

With this minimal amount of equipment, you could do Deadlifts, Squats, Push-Press, Push-Ups, Cleans, and Pull-Ups. A squat rack would be next on the list if you want to lift heavier weights in a safe, controlled environment.

Finally add Benches, Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Jump Ropes, Wall Balls, Plyo Boxes, Concept2 Rower and Assault Airbike to complete your functional training facility. We know this can be done in micro gyms and even the home is proven to be as good an environment as any for forging elite fitness (whether it is in a garage, a basement or an abandoned barn).

What does this mean for the big gyms?

Whilst functional training remains a staple of smaller gyms we have witnessed recently the ingenuity of commercial gyms, which, to remain competitive, harness the best of what powers the micro gym. 

It requires owners, programme managers, and trainers responsible for developing and designing, and delivering functional training to fuse together some essential elements:

1. The personalized distinction and community experience of micro gyms and group training; creating a team environment and building a sense of community;

2. The fitness education delivered in personal training; The trainer is the biggest asset to any facility, they are the natural 'leader of the tribe' and their expertise and competence is decisive in creating the right training environment and ultimately determining the success or failure of your training programme.

3. Create some room to perform high quality functional movement. This means clearing away some of the machines and planning out a space that   

The fitness industry is in a constant state of flux. Big operators need to adapt to trends in the market to navigate their businesses for growth and future success.