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S&C UnderGround >> Designing a functional strength gym


1/11/13 7:20 PM
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rorymcd
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I own a gym (parabellummma.com), and we have about 1000 square feet of open space that isn't being used for anything other than storage right now. I would like to start to build a strength and conditioning area in that space. As of right now we have a squat rack with about 500 lbs of weights, a tractor tire, sledge hammers, med balls, and a few weight vests.

If you had that space what would you spend your money on for strength and conditioning. Say less than $2000.

I frequent rosstraining.com, and I really like that style of training, so low tech gear is fine as well.
1/11/13 7:34 PM
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turducken
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olympic lifting platforms mounted on bosu balls
1/11/13 8:05 PM
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Taku
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Edited: 01/12/13 12:00 AM
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WOW...Turducken...My first two posts visited this evening and you are 2 for 2.

Rory,

sounds like you already have a good start. If you like Ross stuff, build a iso-metric handle. Also, sandbags are cool. Some woody bands. Keeping the space open and covering in with Techno turf would be cool so you could do short shuttles runs or various conditioning stuff.

TAKU

1/11/13 8:17 PM
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rorymcd
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I'd like to have a short 30 ft stretch of astro turf, for short sprints/footwork drills, and for sled drills.
Love the sandbag stuff.
What is an iso-mrtic handle?
Thanks for the input guys.
1/11/13 8:49 PM
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GaryG
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Is it possible to set up a rope climb?

I realize you need some height, and liability could be a concern but its a great exercise tool.
1/11/13 8:50 PM
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GaryG
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Maybe gymnastic rings?
1/11/13 9:55 PM
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Kevin Curtis
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You're going to need a 16kg kettlebell.
1/11/13 11:17 PM
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rorymcd
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We definitely have the height for a good rope climb, its an industrial unit so we have 20 ft ceilings. My concern would be the liability as you said.
If it becomes an insurance issue I'd like to try hanging the ropes from chin up bars, not ideal, but you can still do some good work.
1/12/13 12:02 AM
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Taku
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Hey Rory,

It should have said "Iso-Metric".

Check this link: http://tinyurl.com/3jq8h3u

TAKU
 

1/12/13 2:35 AM
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Leigh
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If I had that space:

Power cage and barbell
Bench
Lifting platform
Chin bar
High resistance cross trainer and/or versaclimber

Nice optionals:
Dumbbells (auto correct gives double B spelling)
Trap bar
Climbing grips on the wall
Climbing ropes Phone Post
1/12/13 7:58 PM
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HULC
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I would spend most of the money on weights and barbells. Power racks and benches can be homemade relatively cheaply if you need to save money. A long bar could be mounted along a wall for chin ups at a very reasonable price. Sand bags are cheap to make in a variety of weights.
1/12/13 10:04 PM
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GaryG
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rorymcd - We definitely have the height for a good rope climb, its an industrial unit so we have 20 ft ceilings. My concern would be the liability as you said.
If it becomes an insurance issue I'd like to try hanging the ropes from chin up bars, not ideal, but you can still do some good work.

I'm throwing out ideas with no practical business experience making this work, but fuck it, lack of knowledge never stopped me before.

Climbing gyms top rope and belay people using the walls. I wonder if an insurance co would be happy if using the climbing rope required a belayer. Its really easy to set up a top rope, put down some pads and hopefully risk would be minimal.

Or maybe set up a horizontal overhead rope to do hand over hand? Less liability.
1/13/13 8:19 AM
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Leigh
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HULC - I would spend most of the money on weights and barbells. Power racks and benches can be homemade relatively cheaply if you need to save money. A long bar could be mounted along a wall for chin ups at a very reasonable price. Sand bags are cheap to make in a variety of weights.
Agree but you better know what you're doing if its for commercial use Phone Post
1/13/13 8:28 PM
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rorymcd
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I really like the idea of mounting climbing crips on the wall. You could cover a wall with them going up 8 feet. It wouldn't take up any space, and it wouldn't be very far off the ground, but you could get a lot of tough work in on them. Great idea.

Also, like the horizontal rope idea.

I'd like to put together some kind of metal structure. I'm picturing something that could be made to use for chin ups, trx straps, heavy bags, short rope climbs, double ended bags etc... It would solve some problems and give us a lot of options.

In terms of machines, I'd be inclined to spend money on something like an aerodyne bike, a versa climber, or a stationary rower. Any opinions in regards to those types of machines? Suggestions where to start pricing them out? Toronto area in Canada.

Thanks for the input, very helpful.
1/13/13 10:14 PM
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cdueck
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A good Concept 2 should be about 1000-1500, a Versa Climber is between 1500-4000 and you should be able to get an Airdyne for under 1000.

Given your name you might be able to get them for free if you are lucky.

1/13/13 11:22 PM
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rorymcd
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Not same the Rory, but I'm definitely willing to exploit a misunderstanding
1/13/13 11:37 PM
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Angle 5
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If you're making a climbing wall, you could have half of it flush against the wall, and the other with a slight overhang.

And you could always change the holds periodically to change the focus of the workout.

You'll become a route setter in no time!
1/14/13 8:46 AM
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LiftStrong
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Sounds like you already have a good start. I always like keeping an area like that as wide open as possible.
Climbing wall is a great idea!
Turf (as mentioned)
Olympic platform and plates
Prowler or sleds
Gymnastics rings
Hurdles or boxes for jumps
Rope - climbing or battle

Where in the GTA are you located? Just curious.
1/14/13 11:07 AM
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Wiggy
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It would depend on how many guys you want to be able to train at the same time.  There's a big difference between wanting to train 3-4 guys at once and training 12-15 at once.

If you're more along the lines of the latter, I'd build a station that's roughly 8'x8' or a little bigger.  Rubber mats would be preferred.  Cage style power rack.  Bar.  Plates.  Removable bench.  Chin bar w/in the power rack.  Dip attachment would be great as well if possible.  Build a Ross-style T-handle for doing Swings.

Have yourself 2-4 stations like this, as each is pretty much self-contained and can "house" (for lack of a better term) 3-4 guys at once.

Line the stations up facing each other, 2 on each side with an alley between them.  Use that space to push a prowler.  2 side-by-side if you have the room.

Boxes for jumping are good but not as necessary.  You could build cheap adjustable hurdles out of PVC for each station as well.

Then you could train a good number of guys all at the same time with pretty good programs.  Add in other stuff that can be used by mutliple people in succession that won't take up a lot of space and/or isn't expensive.  This is where your climbing wall, rope, etc. comes into play.

Wiggy - http://www.workingclassfitness.com

1/14/13 1:01 PM
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rorymcd
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@LiftStong, we're in Oakville. Here is our gym website:
www.parabellummma.com

@Wiggy, great suggestions. I really like the idea of laying it out that way. That would maximize the way we use the room without looking like we're cramming gear into the space.

Opinions on kettle bells? Worth the money for gear and learning how to use them? Or gimmicky?
1/16/13 3:55 PM
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rorymcd
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Equipment list that I'm starting to price out/plan on building:

Must have items:
Squat rack, bench, weights, olympic bar, olympic weights
Chin up bars
Sand bags
battling ropes
skipping ropes
med balls
boxes for jumps
resistance bands
small tire
small dumbell set
iso metric station
gymnastics rings
Ross- T-handle or kettlebells
some kind of resisted cardio machine (versa climber air dyne rower)
ab wheel
neck harness
empty kegs
rope climbs
wall climb grips
tornado ball
dragging sled


Nice to have items:
Welded super structure for TRX, chin ups, dips, resistance bands etc...
astro turf strip
bulgarian bags, home made or otherwise
speacility bars
prowler or sled
parachute
wrist weights
weight vests
double ended bag
slip (maize) bag
upper cut bags

Anything else you guys can think of?
1/18/13 2:13 PM
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Wiggy
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KBs are cool but IMO, a seriously inefficient use of your funds. T-handles will take care of your swings, and the other movement patterns you could train with KBs can be trained with other equipment that you'll get more benefit out of as a whole. If you've got unlimited funds, then cool. If not, put them further down the list.

I've pinged my buddy Andy Hepler to come drop a few knowledge bombs on this thread, but until then, one thing that he just mentioned via phone to me that I should have remembered (he and I have discussed this before) is that you shouldn't be worrying about what should go into your gym first.

Your first concern should be what type of programs/workouts will be done. That is your main priority.

Make sure the workouts will build the appropriate S&C you want to build in your gym, and then outfit the gym accordingly. Otherwise you'll find yourself trying to figure out how/when to use equipment because it's something you have and aren't using - not because it's something that your program(s) need.
1/18/13 3:04 PM
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ash1
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Wiggy told me about the post here so I thought I would jump on and give some thoughts as well as help you prevent some mistakes I made along the way. Cliff notes background on me, pro strength coach in NC, own my own facility for last 5 years, 3,400 square feet with about everything in it. Train high school and younger athletes. Will routinely be training multiple groups of 3 – 5 during a session, can have as many as 15 – 18 people in there. Our programs are about improving athletes sports performance.

Now that being said I give this advice a lot when I see posts like this because I want to help people out. While its tempting to think about the “cool” or trendy stuff you can buy, stop for a minute and say what are you going to do first. Decide on your programming or the way you intend to train people, how many people might train at a time, then build a list of what you need (and how much) to do those programs.

Examples – if you want a Joe DeFranco style facility you will need power racks, lots of weights, speciality bars, chains, indoor turf and so on.

If you wanted to do bootcamp style workouts using kettlebells, sleds, battle ropes, etc, then buy those things.

If you were going to train people doing Wiggy or Ross Enamait style workouts you don’t even really need a power rack at all….but you need lots of dumbbells, sandbags, medballs, open space for various bodyweight exercises, tires for flipping etc.

Point being don’t buy a piece of equipment and then try to figure out how to work it into the program, devise a program and buy the equipment you need to do it.

A lot of trainers immediately go to rings or TRX as choices. If you were training people like a Starting Strength/Rippetoe program you will NEVER need a TRX. So think about it, if I “want” a TRX, why do I want it?

You will never see a Concept 2 Rower in my facility. Not because they are expensive, but because I will never have a program that I write that requires their use. Our “conditioning” comes in the form of Prowlers, sleds and tempo work.

Hopefully you get the idea. Create a handful of routines that you might use in the facility. Make them as barebones as possible and then say what is equipment needed to perform them. Then multiply that by how many you think you might be training at one time. Then after that create a list and prioritize order of what to get additionally over time based on your needs and when the situation warrants it.

You said you already had squat rack, 500 pounds of weights, tire, sledgehammers, med balls and weight vests.

If I were doing just basic training in a Ross style, I would do it like this:

Add another 1,000 pounds of weight plates
Buy a trap bar (deadlifts, shrugs and can be used for farmers walk and weighted jumps)
Buy dumbbells (powerblock if space is an issue and if just to be used for accessory DB work)
Buy a multi-purpose drag/push sled
Buy a climbing rope (long enough to serve dual use as a sled attachment rope for pulling)
Sorinex Core Blaster – used like KB Swings but loadable so replaces a whole arsenal of kettlebells
Battle ropes – multitude of exercises, only upper body conditioning you would ever need
Jungle Gym XT trainers x2 (all suspension training exercises and core work)

No association with these vendors but price shopping matters so here goes:

Play it again sports or any used sporting goods store you might have in your area generally sell used weight plates for .50 cents per pound so if I had $2K to spend it would be:

Climbing rope $80
http://www.ebay.com/itm/WORKOUT-Rope-1-1-2-x-20-Polydacron-GYM-Climbing-/230907831538?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35c32de4f2

Push/drag sled – get two of these
http://www.blackwidowtg.com/Mini_Push_Pull_Sled_p/sled-mini.htm

Dumbbells
Obviously I would look on craigslist first but if you had to buy new I would probably go with Powerblocks since you don’t have a lot of space. These aren’t appropriate for Olympic style lifting, but for basic dumbbell work as accessory moves they are just fin and easily adjustable.
http://www.gtechfitness.com/powerblock-elite-5-90-lb-adjustable-dumbbell-set.aspx?AdID=154--Elite%2090%20Set

Sorinex Core Blaster
http://store.sorinex.com/Hungarian-Core-Blaster-plate-loaded-p/hcb-1.htm

Battle ropes
http://www.ebay.com/itm/75Ft-1-5-Poly-Dacron-Workout-Training-Undulation-Rope-Battle-Fitness-Exercise-/370735691713?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item565191b7c1

Jungle Gym XT:
http://www.buy.com/prod/lifelineusa-jungle-gym-xt/230460440.html?listingId=250850126

My list here if you bought at the places I listed here would run approx $1,953.

With my list of items you could do:

Strength work – anything you can do with a barbell plus trap bar for alternative deadlift option, farmers walks, shrugs and weighted jumps and with 1,500 pounds of weight, enough to handle anybody. With the addition of the Powerblocks/dumbbells add anything you can do with dumbbells minus Olympic variation lifts

Bodyweight training – open floor space, climbing rope and jungle gym = anything you would want to do

Conditioning – push and pull sleds, battle ropes and something to simulate KB swings plus what you already have = all the conditioning needs you would ever have.

I honestly cant think of many “basic” non-specialized programs that couldn’t be done with this list of equipment, which would be available for under $2,000.

Then of course there are things like jump boxes, PVC hurdles, sandbags, etc. that could be made on your own pretty cheaply to add to the mix.

Just some thoughts. If I had it to do over I would think much more about what my athletes would be doing and buy equipment based on that instead of things I “thought” we might use that it turns out we haven’t.
1/18/13 3:12 PM
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ash1
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Specifically price breakdown for what I proposed was:

1000 pounds of plates $500.00
climbing rope $80.00
drag sled x2 $170.00
trap bar $130.00
powerblock dumbbells - elite $615.00
Sorinex core blaster $79.00
battle ropes $179.00
jungle gym $200.00
1/18/13 9:10 PM
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ash1
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And then down the road you can always (assuming you are making money from the strength training portion of your gym) keep expanding $2K at a time. With all the above listed, you have covered the basics. Down the road the next 2 grand should be spent on either a) more of the same things so you can train more people at the same time or b) any equipment you dont already have that would be useful.

One of my rules of thumb is for at least 90% of all my equipment, it has more than one use. If I can only do one thing with a piece equipment it either better be small where it can be stored away when not in use or it better be one VERY cool and useful thing it can do.

Example, lots of places will get glute ham raises. Now you can get a good quality one for basic use for about $600. not super expensive but they do take up a lot of space. But You can do glute ham raises, back extensions and abdominal work.

Likewise a reverse hyper, another popular piece in sports training and powerlifting gyms takes up at least as much space, costs more and honestly you can only do one thing with it...reverse hypers.

In this scenario the GHR would be a better choice.

For a secodn "wave" of purchasing down the road I would add a second power rack (should run around $600 or so) and a GHR (again, $600 or so). That's $1200. Assuming you havent found that you simply need more of something you already bought, then use the remaining $800 for a prowler type pushing sled ($250 top if you shop around, a variety of bands (for stretching and basically being able to replicate any cable machine type exercises) which could run maybe another $150 for a big variety and then maybe one specialty bar based on your needs...I for one like having some type of neutral grip bar for overhead and bench pressing.

That would not only spend you (in theory) second round of $2K spending but would put you in the realm of a more serious training facility with what you would have.

Now I saw a lot of people suggesting things like Versaclimbers and Airdynes. All that is cool and check craigslist and ebay and maybe you can get it cheap....but knowing you are a Ross type of guy, you should know conditioning-wise those things are definitely not a necessity.

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