A NEW CATEGORY OF FITNESS: RECOVERY
There’s a new kid on the block in the fitness & wellness industry, and its name is ‘Recovery.’ Until fairly recently, recovery conversations were limited to the world of athletic trainers and high-performance athletes as a way to get them back on the field or court faster. Now, recovery is quickly becoming a staple in fitness centers and wellness programs worldwide.
Most fitness centers have an abundance of strength & cardio equipment lining their walls. Members expect a wide variety of treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes to get their heart rate into target training zones. Members also expect machine and free weights to be available any time without a long wait. Resistance training & cardiovascular training, are the most widely accepted forms of fitness and are well established on fitness floors.
The irony of this popular “resistance-cardio” model is that the underlying theme of all workout programs rests heavily on the principle of recovery. Personal trainers build rest days into client routines, hard workouts are followed by easy workouts, and sore muscles are given a break until they are ready to be pushed again.
However, recovery is rarely a focus of fitness facilities. Most clubs only offer a small space with stretching mats and foam rollers, almost as if it were a second thought. Some facilities may go as far as to offer hot tubs and saunas, but, as a whole, allocating resources or floor space has been reserved for resistance and cardio zones…until now.
To understand the context, let’s take a brief look at the history of fitness categories in the US.
THE HISTORY OF FITNESS CATEGORIES IN THE U.S.
- 1850’s = While the YMCA is not officially considered a health club, it deserves to be mentioned because of the massive influence they’ve had on health promotion in our country. Y’s introduced “muscular Christianity” which allowed men to develop their spirit, mind, and body.(7)
- 1940’s = Nearly 100 years after the Y came to the US, Vic Tanney and Joe Gold opened the first fitness clubs on Muscle Beach in California with the belief that systemized RESISTANCE training was good for the body.(1) The model spread quickly and weight lifting clubs sprang up around the country introducing the nation to weight rooms, dumbbells, and the concept of “sets and reps.”
- 1960’s = Little was known about the benefits of cardiovascular training until Dr. Kenneth Cooper coined the term “aerobics.”(2) He was a medical doctor who conducted research suggesting that CARDIO exercise could be used to prevent chronic diseases. At first, the medical community thought it was quackery, and Dr. Cooper nearly lost his medical license. However, his research couldn’t be disputed, he prevailed, and the industry blossomed again. Heart rate training zones were born, a market for cardio equipment manufacturers emerged, and aerobics classes made group exercise rooms a necessity in every fitness center.
- Today = RECOVERY is finally being recognized and embraced as a key part of the fitness equation. Club Industry reports that “this is a trend that will only continue to grow.”(10) Quicker recovery means better workouts and faster results. It is a more subtle part of the equation, so it took longer for the industry to recognize recovery as a necessary category of fitness. But now it is here to stay and has given rise to new spaces in fitness centers called “recovery zones” which are full of high tech equipment to aid in the recovery process.
Comprehensive fitness programming is made up of these three categories (resistance-cardio-recovery), otherwise known as THE FITNESS TRIAD. Any single component alone is good, but there is a synergy that creates exponential health benefits when all three are intentionally combined.
THE FITNESS TRIAD
Comprehensive fitness programming should be comprised of all three categories: Resistance. Cardio. Recovery.
MASSAGE FOR RECOVERY: THE RESEARCH
Fitness centers are now making a conscious shift in their offerings to include space and support for recovery. Club Industry reports that recovery is no longer an option, but a necessity, for fitness centers.(10)
While there are many modalities of recovery, including stretching, compression garments, immersion, contrast water therapy, and cryotherapy, the modality that is proving to be the most beneficial is massage.(5) A recent meta-analysis identified four biomarkers of recovery in 99 different studies and concluded that massage was the best modality for improving all four biomarkers listed below:
- DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
- Perceived fatigue
- Inflammation [interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP)]
- Muscle damage [creatine kinase (CK)]
Another use of massage within a fitness membership setting includes helping members de-stress. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Stress is linked to 6 of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.”(9) So, even though a member may not have time for a workout, they might make time for a massage session to unwind from their day and improve their health and well-being.
Researchers in Chicago published a new study in August 2019 that looked specifically at the health impact of mechanical massage chairs. For 6 months they conducted 200 twenty-minute massage sessions on stressed nurses working in an oncology unit. They found that the nurses had significant decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, and perceived stress.(6)
BENEFITS OF MECHANICAL MASSAGE CHAIRS
This latest research validates the recent popularity of massage chair recovery zones. One reason is because massage chairs offer a comprehensive recovery solution in one piece of equipment. One chair can offer three different therapies, including:
- Massage Therapy – complete full-body, customized, targeted massage experience in 15 minutes
- Compression Therapy – zero gravity reclining position and compression help with lymphatic drainage, circulation, and intramuscular swelling that causes pain (DOMS)(11) in the calves, feet, arms, shoulders, and hips.
- Mobility & Stretching – specific programs are designed to improve ROM (range of motion) in the spine, chest, hips, and quadriceps
Another reason is because massage chairs make sense from a club management perspective. They are affordable for both the club and the user. They can be placed anywhere in the facility, moved easily, and are available 24/7 as a self-service amenity that can be monetized. They are quiet and don’t require a dedicated power source. And, when compared to keeping massage therapists on staff, they eliminate the need to do laundry or dedicate a separate room for privacy.
Overall, clubs can expect a positive ROI and member experience when incorporating massage chairs into their recovery zones.
BRIO SPORT™ AS A BUSINESS SOLUTION
The BRIO SPORT commercial massage chair is launching at IHRSA 2020. It was developed because you, the fitness industry, asked for it – and we heard you. The BRIO SPORT is designed and engineered in Boulder, Colorado by Positive Posture, which is an FFL Brands company with over 13 years of experience in the luxury massage chair business. FFL Brands is known for having the best service and support in the industry, so you can be confident that this is a quality product brought to you by the best in the industry. Your business is in good company.
The BRIO SPORT is the only massage chair made specifically for the fitness industry by combining the needs of fitness businesses and fitness consumers with our best-selling commercial chair. It boasts:
➔ Sports Massage session – more intense than the average massage to hydrate muscle tissues and release trigger points
➔ Recovery session – slower and focuses on moving lymphatic fluid to flush out waste by-products that typically follow an intense workout
➔ Stretch session – focuses on increasing mobility in the pectorals and quads.
➔ Other fitness-focused pre-programmed sessions include ‘Warm Up,’ ‘Cool Down,’
➔ ‘Visualize,’ ‘Core Rotation,’ and ‘Compression’
➔ Focused sessions – neck & shoulder, low back, and gluts & IT bands.
The BRIO SPORT commercial chair reclines to zero gravity position, comes with a 4D massage mechanism, infrared heat, and a sporty new look. It also comes with a 2-year commercial warranty and the option of a remote timer integration, powered by Tmax. The timer allows for easily controlling the chair from a central location. The benefits are:
- Additional income streams via pay-per-use or premium memberships Ensuring that members aren’t overstaying their session.
- Massage sessions can be bundled with other products or services without needing additional staff to operate the chair.
- Members can enjoy massage sessions at any time, not just when massage therapists are available.
- Customized timing for the massage chairs from 2-60 minute sessions.
YOUR RECOVERY SOLUTION
Fitness facilities are embracing recovery as a necessary part of the fitness equation. Recovery zones with affordable, regular massage opportunities for are growing in popularity because of the benefits to both the facility and the member.