Preparing for the Next HIIT: Getting Workout Facilities Ready for the Future

There is no denying that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt in all areas of life.  The pandemic has drastically affected how people approach fitness as concerns over the spread of COVID-19 caused many gyms and fitness centers to close at the beginning of the pandemic.  Even as these facilities open, there are less people coming back and those who are returning have new concerns that they did not have before the pandemic.

In the post-COVID pandemic world, people want to know that the fitness facilities they go to are safe and following certain protocols to protect them from COVID-19.  This means emphasizing social distancing, cleaning the facilities, and ensuring good air quality.  In order for gyms and facilities to get more people back, they must adhere to these protocols to create a safe environment.

In addition to pandemic related concerns, new trends in recreation and training are influencing people’s approach to working out.  People want a more holistic approach to wellness that covers mind, body, and soul and functional fitness like HIIT and F45 training have become more popular.  Gyms and fitness facilities will have to adjust to these trends as well. 

Many gyms and workout facilities took a hit from the pandemic, but it is possible to bring people back.  Changes in the design and layout of gyms and facilities can accommodate pandemic related concerns and make them more friendly to changing trends in fitness and recreation such as functional fitness and the emphasis on wellness.  In this blog, we will discuss these changing trends in fitness as well as how facilities can accommodate these changes and prepare for the future.  At MONDO, we provide a range of rubber sports flooring for all fitness activities that is anti-microbial and performs at a high level.

Pandemic Concerns

The COVID-19 pandemic initially shut down everything from local gyms to professional sports.  The proximity of people to each other within gyms and fitness centers along with the sharing of the equipment became major concerns when it comes to safety within a facility.  Now that gyms and facilities are open again, they must recognize and address the following concerns related to the pandemic:

  • Social distancing: One of the main concerns with gyms and fitness centers is how close people are to one another.  The pandemic has put an emphasis on social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and many people are more comfortable if they have additional space.  This means that facilities must be designed to give more space to those within.
  • Cleanliness: Sharing the equipment is also a cause for concern as people are not as comfortable using equipment that hasn’t been cleaned or sanitized from previous use.  Facilities should not only clean and sanitize their equipment, but also keep the building as clean as possible including lockers rooms, restrooms, lounge areas, and other areas.
  • Air quality: COVID-19 and other illnesses are passed person to person on respiratory droplets that travel through the air.  This makes it important to ensure good air quality within the facility including ventilation that prevents the air from getting stale.

Trends in Recreation

In the past, training and exercise was seen as a physical activity for the body.  People are now taking a more holistic approach to the idea of wellness that includes body, mind, and soul.  Facilities and recreational centers can cater to this by having wellness programs available, more spaces for leisure activities such as a game room, and outdoor areas and activities. 

One way facilities can adapt is to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces and have spaces meant to be social spaces.  Consider using equipment that can be moved in and out of spaces so that they can be used for a more diverse array of activities.  Incorporating non-traditional programs like E-sports will not only contribute to the idea of holistic wellness, but also attract people who may be hesitant to join a more traditional gym or fitness center.

Functional Fitness

Functional fitness is an emerging trend in recreational exercise.  As the name suggests, functional fitness includes exercises that focus on functional strength and movements used in everyday life such as walking, bending, pulling, lunging, pushing, and squatting. 

Functional fitness differs from previous fitness trends in that it focuses on working out the muscles of the body together which is how our bodies naturally function.  Our bodies were not built to add on mass by isolating specific muscle groups.  Engaging in functional fitness workouts and improving functional strength will make everyday activities such as running, walking, jumping, lifting, pulling, pushing, bending, turning, climbing, and lunging much easier.

Functional fitness began rising in popularity when trainers started leaving traditional “globo” gyms to develop training programs that focused more on functional movement.  These trainers created exercise programs that incorporate body weight and suspension exercises that could be done with inexpensive weight training and cardio equipment.  The decline in the demand for large “globo” gyms also helped the rise of functional fitness trends as fewer people are interested in working out in these traditional gyms. 

The following are the main benefits of functional fitness training:

  • Workouts that focus on everyday movements and result in increased strength, function, and endurance will improve daily life.
  • Regular functional exercises create better muscle memory.
  • Functional fitness helps increase mobility with improved coordination, flexibility, agility, muscle strength, and balance.
  • Exercises that work the muscles together will result in better posture.
  • Workouts that are based on daily movements will reduce the risk of injury by encouraging muscle and ligament strength.

There are several functional fitness training programs that have become popular, including the following:

  • HIIT: HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a type of training involving repeated, high intensity workout bursts with periods of recovery.  This can be done as cardio and strength-based workouts.  With these workouts, both cardio and strength-based, you go hard for a brief period of time, like 20-30 seconds, and then rest for about two to three times that time period before repeating the cycle.  For example, you may run 20 second sprints followed by 40-60 seconds of rest before sprinting again for another 20 seconds.  Forcing your body to acclimate going between intense workouts and rest will help improve cardiovascular function including oxygen intake and blood pressure and help lose weight.  It is also excellent cardio training for athletes.
  • F45: F45 training is a type of functional fitness training that uses a combination of exercises geared towards everyday movement in 45-minute sessions.  This training incorporates a number of resistance and cardio workouts that are done in HIIT style with intense workout intervals followed by rest.  F45 training helps improve metabolism, energy levels, strength, and endurance and it can be done at home.

Trends in Facility Design

Pandemic concerns and new fitness trends including a focus on wellness, increase in outdoor activities, and the rise in popularity of functional fitness have many in the industry rethinking the way we design facilities.  People do not want to go to a traditional large gym like they used to and instead prefer more personal, multi-functional facilities that accommodate wellness programs and socializing as well as workouts.

Designing fitness facilities to accommodate these new trends and desires among those seeking a gym will help bring people back to facilities after spending much of the pandemic working out at home.  The following must be considered when remodeling a facility or designing a new facility:

  • Outdoor spaces: Social distancing concerns brought on by the pandemic have gotten more people to workout outdoors.  There has been a noticeable increase in outdoor activities such as running, hiking, and biking.  Facilities should incorporate outdoor spaces into their design to allow for outdoor recreation and exercise.  Outdoor spaces are flexible, less restrictive, and safer when it comes to social distancing.
  • Indoor/ outdoor spaces: Modern facility design trends include more blending of indoor and outdoor spaces.  Easily accessible outdoor recreational spaces and indoor spaces that make use of windows to let in natural light create a more welcoming atmosphere for those who do not like being in gyms with no windows and unnatural lighting.
  • Gender based areas: Traditional gyms feature gender-based locker rooms and restrooms designated for men and women.  However, there has been a shift in the way society views gender as people who are trans, gender fluid, and non-binary have been heard and recognized more than ever before.  There are also many trans and non-binary athletes which makes it important for facilities to accommodate their needs when it comes to areas like restrooms and locker rooms.  Facilities should consider factoring gender-neutral spaces into their design that provide adequate privacy.
  • Functional fitness spaces: As discussed above, functional fitness has become very popular and having a space for functional fitness activities can help attract more people to your facility.  Functional fitness spaces can be flexible as this type of training involves equipment that can be moved in and out of the space instead of built in. 
  • Nontraditional spaces: We have already established that the demand and interest in traditional gyms is decreasing.  Incorporating non-traditional spaces for reflection, socializing, E-sports, and other non-traditional activities will attract more people to your facility who are not interested in joining traditional gyms.
  • Mind, body, and spirit: As discussed above, people are taking a more holistic approach to their wellness that includes mind, body, and spirit.  This means that in addition to traditional recreational activities, facilities should offer and accommodate activities such as wellness programs, outdoor recreation, functional fitness, E-sports, and social activities to cover the mind and soul as well as the body.  Facilities should also consider dropping recreational activities that are outdated or no longer in demand.
  • Create a sanitary environment: As we still find ourselves in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for facilities to take steps to create a safer environment.  This means improving air circulation, having sanitizer available for the equipment, promoting social distancing, and installing anti-microbial rubber athletic flooring

Athletic Flooring from MONDO

New trends in recreation and fitness along with concerns from the pandemic should guide the design of new facilities and have current facilities rethinking their space.  Facilities need to accommodate the needs of the mind, body, and soul of those who go there for training and must ensure that people feel safe while we are still in a pandemic.

At MONDO, we can help facilities get ready for the future with our range of athletic flooring products.  We offer innovative rubber sports flooring developed with the latest technologies that can accommodate a wide range of activities from indoor track and basketball to strength training and fitness.  Our flooring products provide superior performance, and they are anti-microbial which means they are safe for use during the pandemic.

Contact our professionals at MONDO to learn more about how we can help prepare your facility for the future.

MONDO offers you the best solutions for outdoor sports facilities, and for athletic facilities and sports fields with synthetic grass.