What gym operators
should keep in mind
The suspension trainer has evolved from the initially provisional training device of a US elite soldier to a fitness trend and an indispensable basic tool in functional training. Since then it has become an integral part of a holistic and functional studio concept.
The suspension trainer is an unstable belt system which is used for workouts involving only one’s own body weight. Here, your own body weight serves as a single resistor and permanently works against gravity. Consequently, a basic tension must be maintained throughout the body at all times.
This activates a large number of muscle groups, especially in the back and abdominal area. Even the deep muscles, which can’t intentionally be worked out, are reached. Individual muscles are thus never isolated but always stressed as part of the entire chain of muscles.
The focus lies on the improvement of the inter- and intra-muscular interaction. One can optimally train basic movement patterns related to everyday life with just one device; this makes the suspension trainer particularly beneficial as a functional training tool for use in gyms.
In addition to these benefits, suspension trainers allow for guiding customers to reach set goals in the most effective manner, regardless of their training level. They guarantee a high quality, time-efficient and varied training with a high fun factor and high motivation, which in turn contributes to member retention.
In addition to complex motion sequences in functional muscle chains, targeted mobilization of myofascial meridians is also possible. This can best be implemented during warm-up. The training and the mobilization of the muscle chains and myofascial lines is inspired by a functional everyday life.
Suspension training precisely integrates movements which compensate for a sedentary lifestyle and also represent an ideal complement to any sport. And another advantage of this functional training tool: depending on the programme, strength, endurance, agility and coordination can be targeted through training… with just one device!
The installation is very simple: suspension trainers are mounted on a wall or a ceiling mount and removable at any time. Frames are ideal for group concepts; multiple suspension trainers can be attached in a space-saving manner. Door anchors, which allow training without prior drilling, are also available for home use.
Nowadays, suspension trainers are an indispensable tool for personal training. Space is often in short supply, especially in studios lacking a dedicated personal training area. Therefore, suspension trainers are the first choice when it comes to functional training.
When traditional strength training equipment is manned during peak times in the gym, a sling trainer is the best alternative. But even when working with customers at home, they offer trainers an incredible variety of exercise options, without having to transport an entire gym in the car.
In addition to personal training customers, many participants of group courses also appreciate motivating and technically competent trainers. Training with your own body weight creates an unmatched momentum in a group.
A major advantage of group lessons with suspension trainers – apart from the fact that every client should independently perform all exercises optimally – is that customers with different performance levels can participate in the same course.
To prevent the undesirable loss of suspension trainers, lockable carbines are essential to studio owners. Resilience in everyday studio use is another factor. Adequate, as well as inadequate use in group sessions, in 1-to-1 training or self-training results in high demands with regards to material.
The simple handling of the suspension systems enabling quick and easy adjustment of the different length settings is essential to smooth course operation. Simple steel sleds for fixing the strap length facilitate ease of use by the end user and should be preferred over complicated knots.
For reasons of hygiene, the handles and leg loops should consist of rubber rather than foam (it is easier to clean rubber). Nobody likes to grab handles soaked in the previous user’s sweat! Furthermore, rubber handles ensure a longer life and better durability than foam or fabric suspension handles.
Some manufacturers mount pulleys on their suspension trainers. These require a high degree of coordination; so novice users may find them difficult to control. They may even pose a risk of injury to inexperienced customers in their unfixed state.
Therefore, compensation loops are recommended, despite the fact that they have less pulleys, because they are much safer for use by a diverse customer base. Particularly with beginners, compensation loops are exposed to severe frictional forces, so they should feature a highly resistant coating such as Kevlar.
Because of the high stress resulting from daily use it is recommended to take a close look at the actual maximum load of harnesses and carbines over the course of a lifecycle. In cases in which all other quality characteristics are identical, this is a decisive factor.
In addition, it is often easier to integrate a brand with a reputation of high quality into the studio concept. It will already possess a long-standing brand acceptance as well as a developmental edge.
As a result their name is used synonymously with the term ‘suspension trainer’. Such manufacturers often offer marketing support which facilitates the effective integration of the suspension trainer into the studio concept.
In addition to the quality of the equipment, a high-quality education system by the manufacturer is also important to the studio operator. Extensive training and certification offers by master trainers provided at numerous locations, as well as in-house training for the coaching staff should be an option.
Only then can suspension trainers be used in the studio in the best way possible and its benefits will be realised, thanks to the trainer’s technical competence.
– Korbinian Klebensberger
The writer is a qualified sports scientist, physiotherapist and founder and professor of the R1 Academy. He is also the Rock Tape Master Instructor in Germany.