How One Club Built the Perfect Performance Training Space
The Performance Training Center is the first thing exercisers see when they walk onto the main floor of Fitness Formula Clubs (FFC) Park Ridge. The green artificial turf of the 5,500-square-foot performance strength training space is adjacent to a multitude of cardio and strength training equipment. When small group training is in session, the area is filled with exhausted exercisers committed to pushing themselves to their limits.
FFC unveiled its impressive 66,000-square-foot fitness center on the northwest edge of Chicago in December 2016. From the day the doors first opened, the club understood the importance of incorporating Olympic and performance strength training into group workouts and high-intensity interval training.
“Technique is paramount. Whatever we can do to help the person digest technique—either by making a simpler movement or having them use a different tool—we’re going to make sure that happens,” explained Sam Gonzalez, an elite trainer at FFC. “We use barbells, bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, but what we’re really doing is teaching basic strength and conditioning principles. It’s good for (experienced exercisers) to mix things up and make their workouts better, or to get (beginners started with) the correct way of training—a more functional, result-based driven routine.”
Trainers utilize a Hammer Strength HD Athletic Rig configuration to put exercisers through a variety of lifts and bodyweight exercises. The large turf area is used for deadlifts, pushing weight sleds and anything else that a trainer can come up with. Regardless of each trainer’s specific philosophy, exercisers can expect to be challenged.
“We’re usually asking for a commitment from them when they join (PTC classes),” said Gonzalez. “They know it’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve had people who’ve been here since the beginning of the club when it opened in the winter that started off lifting a 12-kilo kettlebell and now they’re lifting almost 200 pounds on the barbell for a deadlift.”
That kind of success can be contagious in a health club. FFC runs 10 paid classes each week in the Performance Training Center and members have been filling them consistently.
“In the beginning people were sometimes a little hesitant to join because they might think it is kind of an advanced system of training,” added Gonzalez. “But once they’re in, they’re coming three or four times a week. I think that Hammer Strength brings to the PTC a way that we really want to train people. You can go to a larger gym and not find a pull-up bar or a nice squat rack. You can get caught up in a bunch of engineered equipment that you may not know how to use. It’s a great way for us to introduce techniques to people. And it’s really a great way to get everyone to flow through the class.”