Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bumper Plates - Choosing What is Best for Your Gym

Bumper plates are quite often the first piece of equipment we think about when it comes time to outfit our home gym or commercial facility.  Found in every serious functional fitness gym around the globe, bumper plates versatility and durability make them one of the highest priorities to getting outfitted well.

With the resurgence of olympic weight lifting in garage gyms and commercial facilities alike, the bumper plate is a mandatory equipment piece to protect bars and flooring.  Dropping steel weights from hip height or higher damages equipment and flooring in just a few reps and makes a lot of noise.  The rubber in bumper plates absorbs impact, greatly lessens noise and reduces or eliminates damage.

Because of the importance and heavy use that bumper plates will get in the gym, it's important to match up the best bumper plate for it's intended use.  We've got three great choices with one as the clear front runner for the commercial facility:

Hi Temp Bumper Plates - Hands down the most durable and resilient bumper plate in our inventory is the Hi Temp Recycled Rubber Bumper Plate.  The combination of recycled rubber and polymers makes for a thicker, softer plate which absorbs impact and noise the best.  And it's rougher outer texture holds up perfectly whether you are training on concrete, rubber flooring or even out in the parking lot or driveway.  The thicker design allows a maximum of 405lb bar weight [four 45lb bumper plates on each side of the bar], but the trade off in durability can't be over looked.  Hi Temp bumpers take the most abuse and keep coming back for more.

Troy VTX Bumper Plates - Ideal for the garage gym, the Troy VTX high density rubber bumper plate is a great alternative.  It's thinner, harder construction still stands up to impact but the heavier bumpers come it at a lower cost.  Troy VTX bumpers are great for the garage gym on a budget.

York Bumper Plates - York also manufactures a great garage gym bumper plate.  The thinner, high density design comes in at a lower cost but still holds up great for home gym use.  Like the Troy VTX bumper, it's best to keep these bumpers indoors and in use over rubber flooring to keep noise levels down and equipment well protected.

What is the best set of bumper plates to outfit the Garage Gym?

  • Basic Garage Gym Set - 10/10/15/25 [pairs] - This package allows the beginning level athlete the most variation of weight on the bar.  But even this starter set has enough weight to challenge higher level athletes in movements like the snatch and split jerk.  The wide range of weight you can stack on the bar will open up the most movements like the clean, snatch, front squat, overhead squat and more...  
  • Intermediate Garage Gym Set - 10/10/15/25/45 [pairs] - By adding just one set of 45lb bumper plates, the maximum load now available on the 45lb bar is 255lb.  For those with a heavy clean this set is a great upgrade.  And you can now add more challenge to static movements like the front squat and back squat.
  • Advanced Garage Gym Set - 10/10/15/25/45/45 [pairs] - Now with two sets of 45lb bumper plates, the bar can be loaded with up to 345lb.  For most, this set will provide all the challenge you could want.  Movements like the deadlift and hack squat can now be challenging as well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Affiliate Rig - Advantages of the Offset Pull Up Bar

The Offset Pull Up Bar which comes standard on every one of our Pull Up Racks has a few very important advantages over the industry standard stacked bars.

What we've found to be one of the most important benefits of this type of design is opening up the Bar Muscle Up movement.  Many intermediate level and advanced level athletes are demanding more versatility out of today's pull up rigs and our Offset Bar delivers.  With the top bar extending a full 11" away from the low bar and 6" higher, the athlete has more than enough clearance for the bar muscle up.

But this is not the only advantage.  This type of design in the pull-up bar also offers two different pull-up bar heights out of one station.  Shorter athletes stand inside the rig facing out and grab the lower bar while taller athletes stand outside the rig facing in for the higher bar.

A pull up rig with multiple bar heights means no more athletes dragging bumpers and plyo boxes under the rig to help them reach.  Using those expensive step stools creates tripping hazards and takes equipment out of play.

But one of the less widely known advantages to the Offset Pull Up Bar becomes clear when your class sizes increase and you need more room on the rig for pull-ups, toes to bar, ring dips and more.  That high bar on the perimeter of our rig stands 10" away from the poles.  That added distance gives you a huge advantage because it opens up space inside the rig.  With taller athletes around the perimeter grabbing that high bar, they are effectively pushed out further away from the center of the rig.  That means more space inside.

And here's a quick gear tip.  Whenever you've got the Pull Up Rack in use for the WOD, take two minutes before the start to have all your athletes stand in the best spot on the rig for them.  Once everyone has found their spot then they'll not need to scramble or wait for a spot to open up.  Everyone knows where to go before time starts.

All of our Rigs include Offset Pull Up Bars standard and ship free to the continental US.  Ready to add one of them to your gym?  Have a look here and get in touch with us should you have any questions.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar - A Better Start for the Commercial Gym?

Yesterday we received an email from a potential client in South Carolina looking to open a CrossFit® Affiliate.  She had been looking at starting her gym with our 5 Athlete Gold Package but wanted some modifications.  She asked us to price up two different quotes for her to look over.

After she considered our proposals for a few weeks, she asked another question that is certainly blog-worthy:

Is a series of Wall Mounted Pull Up Bars a smart substitution for an Affiliate Rig?

Jamie's gym space is small and the facility owner really doesn't want anything bolted to the floor.  She thought that would rule out the Affiliate Rig, but what will she have to sacrifice to make the substitution?

Here's a look at some of the results from trading up:

  • Lower Cost - One of our most popular rigs is our 4 Pole Wall Mounted Pull Up Rack.  It can fit 8-10 athletes comfortably performing pull-ups, toes to bar, knees to elbows or low gymnastics rings work.  Trading this rig for 4 or 5 of our 3 Bracket Pull Up Bars will still result in the same number of stations for athletes for those movements but she will pay less.
  • Space Saving - Square footage is always at a premium in the gym.  The more open floor area you have for your athletes, the better.  Open space means larger capacity for more athletes per class and larger training areas per athlete to keep everyone safe and moving efficiently.  The Free Standing or Wall Mounted Pull Up Rigs do take up a larger footprint than the Wall Mounted Pull Up Bars so the trade up here will give you a more open feel.
  • Maintaining Height Adjustment - We've blogged before about how important it is to have multiple pull up bar heights available for your different sized athletes.  When they've got to pile up a stack of bumpers or drag over a plyo box to reach the lowest available pull up bar then that equipment is essentially taken out of play.  That's one expensive step stool.  Whether Jamie chooses our wall mounted pull-up bars or one of our rigs, she will have appropriate height adjustment in the bars.  So no sacrifice here.
  • Kipping and More -
    The rig provides the athlete with the most amount of space for the aggressive kip of the pull-up, butterfly pull-up, toes to bar and even the bar muscle up.  At 31" from the wall, our Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar doesn't come up short.  That distance will still provide Jamie's athletes with all the room they need for those movements.
  • No Squat Racks - The only noticeable tradeoff for Jamie is when it comes time to program heavy lifts from shoulder height.  Heavy back squat and front squat programming requires that your athletes have a place to rack the bar.  Seldom does an athlete's power clean match their heavy squat so pulling these lifts from the floor won't allow Jamie's athletes to max out unless she adds separate Squat Stands.  It's certainly doable but does add to the cost should she choose to trade up the rig.
Bottom line - neither decision is wrong.  It's all about providing the right equipment and programming to skyrocket your athlete's fitness levels.  No matter which of these options Jamie chooses, the benefits are right here.

Ready to start your Commercial facility or Garage Gym?  We know some guys :)

Thanks Jamie for asking that great question!  Have one of your own you'd like to ask?  Get in touch with us here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bumper Plates and The Atomic Sit Up

Every time you can think of a different way to use the equipment that is already in your gym, you save money and add interest and challenge to your programming.  Winner.

When you imagine a new, inventive way to get your athletes moving, it challenges not only their bodies, but also their minds.  Keeping workouts varied with the same grab bag of movements can get stale for you and for them over time.  Instead, add a new twist to a well known movement.  It can be just the right amount of change that can add a spark to the workout and keep everyone mentally engaged as well.

We've seen a few new movements recently that add a great twist on the old standby - the situp. Both of them are much more challenging, require a bit of technique but can be done with the tools that are already in your gym.  Someone ring the PR bell.

The Sit to Stand and Atomic Situp are two great exercises that add a great twist on the old favorite.  If none of your athletes have ever tried either of these, you just might catch them smiling as you demonstrate.  That's a good thing.

Most often, you might dial in an exercise like the sit-up into your programming as a warmup but seldom during a WOD because it lacks in difficulty for intermediate to advanced level athletes.  For those athletes it can be more of an active rest period than not.  To crank the difficulty up, you might use movements like knees to elbows and toes to bar.  Both of those movements are great and add challenge and variation.

Here's two more movements to add to the pile.  They are easy to teach and add that interest and challenge that your athletes are after.  Both the Sit to Stand and the Atomic Situp have the same general movement.  In the Sit to Stand, the athlete begins in the situp position with the goal of moving their body to standing without using their hands to lift them off the floor.

To make the movement easier, bring the knees to the chest in the beginning of the movement and as the feet are brought to the floor, reach the arms forward through the knees to develop momentum.  That will help in getting the hips off the floor.

To add difficulty, program the Atomic Situp.  The movement is the same as the sit-to-stand, but the athlete now uses a bumper plate which must be moved throughout the same range of motion.  Adding an overhead squat at the end is a nice variation as well.

It's these types of movements that will challenge your athletes, keep your programming varied and interesting and uncover weaknesses.

And the best part about these exercises is that you can work them into your programming with the equipment you already own.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bombproof Barbell Collars

With quick, intense workouts that involve picking up the barbell and dropping it not quite so gently time after time comes the need for a barbell collar that can hold up to that demand.
We've all come to know the usual suspects in the barbell collar game but there is a new player that has certainly got one CrossFit® Gym owner's attention.

Brennan Morton out at NEPA CrossFit in Plains, PA has some high praise for the Hi Temp Barbell Clamp.

Best WOD clips on the market pastedGraphic_1.png
Posted by Brennan Morton on 24th Jul 2014
I own a box and have tried a myriad of clips before finding these.  We broke every other clip out there pretty quickly and they rarely keep the weights in place after a few drops from shoulder height.  These clips take a little more to get on but once they are on, the weights WILL NOT MOVE.  Plus, they are made from rubber and metal, and will not break if something is dropped on them.  I just bought twenty pair to replace all of the clamps on my box.  That's how good these are.

We couldn't agree more.  These clamps have proven themselves to grip the bar with more than enough force to keep the bumper plates fitting snugly drop after drop.
The secret is in the threaded closure and the pliable, yet tough outer shell.  The ability to adjust the tightness of the clamp is something that not many clamps offer.  And the soft, but strong shell beats the hard black ABS plastic that some other products use.
We've encountered issues from time to time with some clamps breaking after long periods of commercial use but the Hi Temp Barbell Collar is proving to be the more resilient.

Need to add a great barbell collar to your equipment arsenal.  Get them here.
Thanks for that product review Brennan!  If you've got some insight to share on a product of ours that you've used, write in and tell us about it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar - Batteries Included

Ever been one of those kids at Christmas that gets that great electronic gift?  I was.  And I couldn't rip it open fast enough to get right at it.  I would never bother to read the instructions, but just wanted to play it immediately.  I'd get it out of the box, find the on switch and flip it.  Pffft.  Nothing.  One of the things that burned me the most was when it didn't come with batteries.  Total letdown.  And if my folks didn't have any spare double A's at the house, we'd have to wait until the next day to go get them.

We understand that when you get a piece of equipment from us, it's a little like Christmas.  And our Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar is a perfect example of sending our products out "Batteries Included."

We wanted our customers to be able to open the box and have everything needed to get that pull up bar up on the wall and in use without any trips to the hardware store.  To save you from that frustration, we include all the hardware you'll need.  Whether you are installing in a wood stud wall or in concrete block, just let us know and the hardware is on us!

And we've added a few special design elements to make our pull up bar easier to install.  With just a few simple household tools - a drill, a crescent wrench or socket set, a tape measure and an alan key, you can get our bar up on the wall in no time.  The 52" long non-slick pull up bar that comes included slides freely in the bracket arm holes to make alignment a breeze.  That adjustment means spacing on the wall brackets is less critical than with other models that have fixed length brackets and bars.  And our set screws clamp down on the pull up bar after it's in place to keep it from spinning.

We do get asked from time to time what the optimal height is to mount the pull up bar on the wall.  We know everyone is sized differently so here's an easy way to make sure you've got it at the right height for you.

The pull up bar is at it's ideal height when you can easily jump up and grab it and still have your feet about 4"-6" off the ground.  That makes for an uninterrupted kip.  Here's the quick way to measure.  Stand next to the wall that you will be mounting on and with a pencil, pen or marker in hand reach as high as you possibly can.  Get up on your tip toes.  Our wall brackets have three holes in them - top, middle and bottom.  That mark that you just made on the wall is the spot for the top hole of the bracket.  Piece of cake...

The pull up is one of the most commonly programmed bodyweight exercises that brings great rewards.  And since our bar is spaced a full 31" away from the wall there is plenty of room for the aggressive kip and other exercises like knees to elbows, toes to bar and bar muscle ups. Hang a set of gymnastics rings off it too to add even more functionality.

Ready to add our "Batteries Included" Pull Up Bar to your arsenal?  Get it right here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kettlebells - Turn Your Warmup into a Workout

Of all the pieces that form the foundation for any strength program, kettlebells are one of our all time favorites.  They are one of the most basic, no nonsense tools that requires zero maintenance and zero setup time.  It's a grab-and-go piece that is so versatile, you can use it differently every day for a month.

For those reasons and more, the kettlebell is an ideal piece for not only the commercial facility but also for the Garage Gym where space is at a premium.  The kettlebell is super compact, takes up minimal space when you are using it and stores away in the corner when you are done.

And don't let it's simplistic design and small footprint fool you.  The kettlebell will take most any bodyweight exercise to an entirely new level that can challenge even the most advanced athletes.  So, if your training program is feeling a bit stagnant, breathe some new life into it with these four exercises that turn your warmup into a workout.

Four Common Warmup Exercises Enhanced by the Kettlebell

  • The Kettlebell Kayak -
    A perfect way to blast your core, the kettlebell kicks the standard situp up a notch.  From the half situp position with the kettlebell gripped with both hands, move the kettlebell to the left and right, each time touching it to the floor.  To lessen the intensity, keep your knees bent and heels in contact with the floor.  To keep it more challenging, pick your feet up and straighten your legs.  If the standard situp just isn't challenging you, then give this a try.  It won't disappoint.
  • The Lunge - One of our all time favorites, the lunge is one of those grass roots, foundational movements that most commonly incorporates into training programs as a warmup.  But why not use this same great exercise to build strength and burn lungs?  The kettlebell adds or lessens intensity easily based upon where you hold it.  The kettlebells held with your arms hanging at the side presents the least challenge.  In the front rack position, even more balance is needed to maintain your position.  For the fire breathers, hold one or both kettlebells in the overhead position.
  • The Goblet Squat -
    Air Squats are a perfect warmup to the workout and chances are they grace the whiteboard several times per week.  With good reason.  Put a kettlebell in your hands and you'll turn this warmup into a full fledged workout.  And just like the lunge, moving the position of the kettlebell changes the intensity dramatically.  Add a second kettlebell and hold in the front rack position for even more fun.
  • The Renegade Row Push Up - The pushup is one of those exercises that most everyone is familiar with and even by themselves they can get spicy when incorporated into a workout.  They are especially difficult when paired with Medicine Ball throws.  The Renegade Row Pushup incorporates a pull into the pushup movement as well as creating a deficit to force a greater range of motion in the movement.
If you are limited in equipment budget or in space for your gym, the ketllebell is the one tool that can provide a variety of uses and incorporate quickly in your training program.  The space saving compact design and zero setup time makes the kettlebell the perfect addition to your garage gym or commercial facility.

Crank up those warmup exercises into a routine that will not only challenge you.  It will change you.

Outfit your home gym or commercial facility with the tools that get results.  Outfit with Hammerhead Strength Equipment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Doing That Little Extra For Your Clients - Motivus CrossFit

Doing the little extras for your clients is something that not only gets noticed by them, but it can spread like wildfire around the community.  We like to keep a close look at what our clients post on their Facebook pages. [Yes, we do have a Facebook page too - please like it!]  And we saw something that Glenn out at CrossFit Motivus in Spartanburg, SC is doing that was really great and it's something that any gym owner or coach can do once a week to provide that little extra service to their clients.

As many of us know, putting in hard work at the gym is only part of the equation.  Nutrition plays an even bigger role in bringing about true success in wellness and fitness.  And for those that have spent years in the fitness industry, good nutrition habits can be almost second nature.  But when starting a new facility, like CrossFit Motivus did, many new members that join up might need that education and encouragement in getting their diet right.

We saw a Facebook post from Glenn on the CrossFit Motivus Page called the Recipe of the Week or ROW.  He posted a short video introducing a Paleo Spaghetti recipe [one of my favorites by the way] to their clients.  It's a simple recipe, didn't take him a lot of time to put it together yet he provided some valuable information for his clients. There are more than a few reasons why this is super smart.


  • Educational - This almost goes without saying.  Sure - it's educational for their clients.  And we like the fact that he shot a video instead of just typing in a recipe with a photo.  It shows an added level of commitment to their clients to provide something more.
  • Simplicity - Paleo Spaghetti is super easy to make and parallels one of the basic comfort foods that many of us have grown up on.  It's simple, appealing and easy to make.  For those that might be making some more drastic changes to their diet, a dish like this can help them ease into healthier eating.  Winner, winner chicken dinner.
  • Personal Touch - I like the fact that Glenn shot a video of himself explaining how to make the dish.  Now I've met him, see his personality and it shows he wanted to do something a little extra.  That can be a nice ice breaker for those that are considering joining the gym.  And we can see that Glenn lives what he preaches.  Here's the deal too - it doesn't have to be a major production with lighting, music, graphics and editing.  It was well done but not overdone.
  • Great Use of Time - Again...winner.  Glenn was making that dish for dinner that night anyway.  Why not turn the phone camera on for a few minutes and do something extra for his clients?  Cool.  And a once a week commitment for 5-10 minutes isn't so much that it becomes a burden.  Glenn could easily pass the torch to Cayce or Zac, the other trainers in the gym.
Glenn and Cayce of CrossFit Motivus
So here's some kudos to Glenn for thinking outside the box a bit and doing that little extra something for his clients.

Class time is normally so devoted to movement instruction that education on nutrition can be a challenge and may even be overlooked.  But with an idea like CrossFit Motivus, you can reach all of your clients with a minimum time investment.

Proper nutrition is paramount to succeeding at the gym and these guys have a great solution to seeing their clients do their best.  Well done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Impressions of a Successful Gym

If there were two things you would like to have a potential client hear about your gym what would they be?  If you had 60 seconds to make an impression, what are they going to remember and what is it that would encourage someone to walk through your door?

Two of the most important aspects of training at Victor CrossFit that keep me coming back for more are the effectiveness of the programming and the community in that gym.  One without the other won't keep me there for the long haul.  If it was all business and no camaraderie then I would enjoy my results but would miss out on those friends that keep pushing me and encouraging me.  If it was all just a social gathering with no seriousness about improvement in fitness then what's the point?  Because both of these qualities are overflowing where I train, it's easy to keep showing up.

We just outfitted CrossFit Lancaster in Lancaster, PA and sent our photographer down for a photo shoot last weekend.  Although I have never met the owner Tim personally, we have had some great phone conversations.

After getting some of the photos in, the two things I was expecting to see came out in spades.  Tim and his athletes know how to have fun and they work hard.

I can see that they've got that proper combination of seriousness when it comes time to train, but they also like each other.  That's important when it comes time to give someone some encouragement when they need it or to celebrate their successes with them.

When a gym has that proper mix, it thrives.  Clients bring their friends and family to get in on the great time they are having getting exceptionally fit.  That type of advertising is free and it's priceless.  It is far better to have someone else praise you and your gym than for you to tell everyone how great it is.  Praise from one of your clients to their friends or even to someone they don't know holds an incredible amount of value.

Want to see your gym thrive?  If you are a member, tell people about the success and fun you are enjoying.  As an owner, lead the way in fostering a community that works hard and plays hard.  Together.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bumper Plates - Outfitting the Commercial Facility

Next to the barbell, bumper plates are perhaps the most important piece in your gym.  Not a day will go by that they aren't on the front line of your programming.  And if you've got a gym membership nearing or passing 100 athletes, product durability and performance in your equipment need to be the overwhelming factor when considering which bumper plate graces your gym floor.

Saving startup costs is super important to getting off on the right foot.  That's why we recommend investing in the most useful tools the industry has to offer.  By choosing wisely on what type of equipment you outfit the gym with, you can still keep your programming options open and be able to challenge beginner through advanced level athlete.

I've been an avid CrossFitter since 2006 and have seen my share of bumper plates in use at the local affiliates.  Time and time again, Hi Temp bumper plates have proven themselves to be the leader in the industry for the budget minded affiliate owner with 100 athletes or more.  They earn that spot because of their outstanding durability.  Are Hi Temps the lowest cost bumper out there?  No.  And that's not a bad thing provided that their durability and performance can substantiate that incremental price change.   They do.  In spades.  For less than the cost of a good men's bar you can outfit your gym with the bumper plate that will be with you for years to come.

Here at Hammerhead, we are such firm believers in the performance of this bumper plate you'll see the Hi Temp Bumper in every one of our Commercial Equipment Packages.  It's a performer.

And for those who have plans to start a commercial facility in the future but want to begin in their garage, we've put together our Garage Affiliate Package that is packed with all the top end commercial equipment that can easily move with you as your business grows from your garage to the warehouse.  And this higher end, commercial quality equipment is up to task as your membership grows well into the 100 athlete mark.

When thinking about a new gym or making plans for expansion of your existing facility, have a look at our free Buyer's Guide.  It's an easy read with a few great tips on equipment selections that can make the most of your hard earned dollar.

Our Five Staple Pieces along with a few supporting tools can make your gym a great one. Commercial Quality equipment for outfitting the commercial gym - that's our job here at Hammerhead Fitness.

Need more information or want a custom quote on your equipment needs?  Just send us a note and let's get started.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Trusting the Process

We've all had those days.  We've let ourselves down.  Maybe we didn't perform as well as we wanted to.  Maybe that deadlift that was 20lbs under your PR felt like it was nailed to the floor.  Or maybe you just couldn't RX the weight today that was on the whiteboard.  Those days can really deflate us.  If we let them.

It's on those tough days that you've just got to push through the mental block.
Guess what?   Bad days happen to the best athletes and more often than we probably think, too.  But, what we sign up for is a process.  It's not going to happen overnight and it most certainly won't happen if you stop showing up or stop working those weaknesses.  We're not going to PR every week and maybe not even every month.

There will always be something just not quite right when you step in the gym.  Maybe you didn't sleep well that night or you've got a minor injury you are dealing with.  Maybe you made a bad food choice the night before and you are feeling sluggish.  Those aren't reasons to stay away from the gym.  They are reasons to push on.  If we used excuses like these to stay home, we would never reach our goals.

No one thinks less of you if you don't go as RX'd.  Not really.  They know what it's like to have off days.  What's important to them is your effort.  Everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses.  And everyone has bad days.  The one thing you should come to expect from one another is effort.  Put in the work.  Grind through the reps.  Trust the process.  Celebrate the victories and attack the weaknesses relentlessly.

One of the biggest reasons I like going to the gym is that the programming is done by someone else.  It's not for me to choose.  When I walk in there I'm going to do what's up on the board.  If it were up to me, I'd work on my strengths only and those movements that are difficult for me would remain that way.  That is not the path to success.

Gym owners and coaches don't program those workouts lightly or frivolously.  Many spend hours on the weekend working on it, tweaking it and even analyzing their athletes scores from previous workouts to attack the gym's weaknesses as a whole.  That's commendable.  For many, coaching isn't a job.  It's a career.  It's a passion.  And it's that coach's genuine interest in seeing growth in their athletes that keeps everyone moving forward.  But if you aren't there, it won't happen.  It's been said that you can't out train a bad diet.  But even the best diet won't help you reach your strength goals if you are inconsistent with showing up at the gym.

So the next time it's difficult to get out of bed or all those excuses start filling your head, remember that it's a process and it's not any one single day that gets you to your goals.  It's consistency and effort.  And getting yourself into the gym and focused on those most difficult of days will strengthen your resolve to keep at it.

What are you waiting for?  Get. In. There.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bumper Storage - Space Saving Ideas for the Gym

Ask any gym owner or coach and they'll tell you that space in the gym is at a premium.  This holds true for any type of gym whether it's in the home or in a full commercial facility.  Equipment that is not used in the workout should be out of the way and compactly stored to make the most use of your space.

CrossFit Williamsville's Open Floor Plan allows more athletes to get in the mix

With the open class concept, each athlete needs about an 8x8 area when working with a barbell or a jump rope.  And when class sizes reach 10-15 or more, the space in your gym can shrink fast.  Infringe on that athlete's space and injury is just around the corner.  You don't need to be dodging barbells and spinning jump ropes just to get your WOD on.

Casey Atkinson, head trainer over at CrossFit the Tracks in Erlanger, KY began their facility with a Free Standing Rig in the center of their space but later reconfigured it to a Wall Mounted Unit like the one above.  Here's what Casey had to say about the change he made:
As we continued to grow & class sizes got bigger, the rig seemed like it was taking up too much space instead of saving it like we previously thought. In our larger classes, both the rig & the floor space seemed busy in a clustered sort of way. So we made the decision to open up the rig & place it against the wall. Wow! What a difference it has made. Floor space is huge in CrossFit; the more the better. Eliminating the other 6' really opened up the space. The room looks larger & allows for much better flow. Athletes are much more spread out allowing for a larger class (something we thought the free standing would do).   Overall, mounting the rig to the wall was a great decision.
We agree completely with Casey - "Floor space is huge in CrossFit®; the more the better."  That's not to say that a Free Standing Rig is the wrong choice, but for the long, narrow space, more and more gym owners are going the route of the Wall Mounted Pull Up Rack.  In addition to considering the Wall Mounted Rig for opening up as much space as possible, storage options for all your equipment can also have a great impact on how much of your area can be used to effectively train a large number of athletes.

Vertical storage is the best use of your space
Ideally, storing equipment vertically is the best use of space as long as you don't need a ladder or step stool to reach it.  We're big fans of stacking bumpers vertically, and for those with four to five different sized bumpers [45/35/25/15/10], it's best to put them in individual stacks to make it easy to grab the size you want.  A great option we've designed for bumper plate storage that keeps them well arranged and easy to grab by size is our horizontal bumper storage unit.

Great for the Garage Gym owner and Commercial Facility alike, our storage unit comes with all the hardware you need to install in a stud wall, concrete or cinder block wall.  And these make great storage options right next to squat racks or platform stations to keep bumpers up off the ground and within easy reach.

Smart space saving ideas will keep your options open and allow the most efficient use of your space.  Looking for other great ideas on outfitting your space?  Feel free to browse though our blog or get in touch with us for more info.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Pull Up Rack - Don't Let It Take Other Equipment Out of Service

As the center point of your training facility and a moderate investment, the pull up rig needs to function well for all sizes and ability levels of athletes.

Mike Cleaves of CrossFit Njörd in Chesapeake, VA sent us this great photo of his Free Standing Rig and the way that Mike installed it, really accentuates our design and philosophy.

To make the most out of your equipment investment, every piece you put into your gym should be able to be used by as many athletes as possible.  Medicine Balls and Kettlebells are indispensable tools but not every athlete can swing a 32kg kettlebell or Wall Ball with a 20lb med ball.  That's why you'll need to vary your size selection on those.  It's unavoidable, but expected.  Gymnastics Rings and Three Sided Plyo Boxes however, are the type of equipment that can be scaled to a broader range of ability.  Your Pull Up Rig should be designed to scale that same way.

We've built our Pull Up Rack series with that in mind.  As you can see from CrossFit Njörd's setup, Mike takes full advantage of the adjustability we've designed in pull up bar height along the two long sides of the rig.

With twenty-five different height variations along our vertical poles, our Offset Pull Up Bars can be set to virtually any height necessary.  If the high bar is out of reach, the athlete can step inside the rig, face out and grab the low bar.

And here's a solid point to make as well.  We've commented before about keeping bumper plates and plyo boxes out from underneath the pull up bars.

When an athlete can't reach a pull-up bar, they will use whatever is within reach to help them.  With the controlled 'mayhem' that occurs in a workout, any added bumpers or plyo boxes under the rig can create tripping hazards and will slow your athletes down.  And using bumper plates or plyo boxes as step ups takes this valuable equipment out of play.  If you've got 3-4 athletes making step up platforms, that's 3-4 plyo boxes or 300-400lbs of bumpers you can't use in the WOD.  That's an expensive step stool.  Instead, move them to an appropriately high pull-up bar and keep that equipment for use in the WOD.

Here's a big shout out of thanks to Mike and Joyce down at CrossFit Njörd in Chesapeake, VA for the photos!!  If you are in the area, stop out and sign up!

Getting ready to outfit your facility with a Pull Up Rack or other gear?  We can help.  Get in touch with us here for more info.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Popularity of the Wall Mounted Pull Up Rack

When laying out an equipment plan for a commercial facility, one of the very first considerations for the gym owner is what style of Pull Up Rack will suit their needs best.

We've been talking with Carlos Calderon of Supernatural CrossFit in Winter Park, FL about expanding his facility.  Like so many gyms, Carlos' membership is growing steadily.   His gym was outfitted with a smaller free standing pull-up rack that was locally made and was no longer meeting their needs.  He knew they needed to expand their rack to meet their increase in athletes and decided that our 8 Pole Wall Mounted Unit made the best choice.

The only reservation he had was that he felt the Wall Mounted option would be a permanent choice with no chance to grow or change it's configuration.  We told him that we have a fair amount of gym owners that have called us for rig expansions and additions and we've even had some that ask us to change over from their Free Standing Unit to a Wall Mount Style.  These changes are not only easy to do, they are very affordable.

The overwhelming choice made by gym owners that work with us is the Wall Mounted Pull Up Rack.  And all of our startup Equipment Packages include that style.

Because of our recent conversation with Supernatural CrossFit, we spoke with Lance Richards, owner and head trainer of +Victor CrossFit here in Victor, NY about his choice on the Wall Mounted Unit.  Lance, at one time, had our 8 Pole Free Standing Rig in his gym but over a year ago he reconfigured it to an 8 Pole Wall Mounted Unit by adding just a few parts from us.

We asked Lance why he made the change and here's what he told us:

  • Space Considerations - Like many gyms, Victor CrossFit is shaped like a rectangle with a bathroom bump out right in the middle of the long wall.  Lance told us that changing the free standing rig to a wall mounted unit freed up a considerable amount of space and made his gym look and feel bigger.
  • Use of Interior Pull Up Bars - The use of the pull-up bars on the inside of the free standing rig can be tricky if athletes are all around the perimeter.  The pull-up bars next to the wall on the Wall Mounted Unit are more accessible during the WOD and are spaced far enough from the perimeter that athletes kips won't interfere with each other.
  • No Loss of Use - Even with moving the rig to one of the perimeter walls of the gym didn't mean sacrifice on space.  That wall space still serves duty as a place for handstand pushups and wall ball throws because the rig poles are a full 6 feet away from the wall and athletes can easily move in and out of the squat and pull-up stations on the rig.
  • More Solid Performance - Lance commented that the Wall Mounted Unit feels more rigid than the Free Standing Unit, especially when there are only a few athletes on it at a time.  Because it is anchored to a structural wall it provides superior stiffness.
  • Athlete Visibility - Perhaps one of the best results of the change from one style to the next was the amount of visibility Lance gained.  On the Free Standing Unit, if there is only one coach in the class, some athletes can be hidden or obscured from view depending on where the coach is standing.  Because all of the Squat Stations on the Wall Mounted Unit are all in a line, the coach gains the best vantage point to see all of the athletes at once and is able to make the best spot corrections as athletes are squatting or pressing with the bar.
Thanks to Lance and Carlos for sharing their thoughts with us.  If you are deciding between either of these units and would like more info or if you are starting a new facility we would love to help.  Get in touch with us here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why Gymnastics Rings Earn Their Place in Our Top Five Pieces for The Gym

One of the most important cost saving principles to keep in mind when outfitting the commercial facility is to make sure that each and every athlete that walks through your door can make use of the equipment you offer.

You will never know just who your next client might be or what condition they might be in.  Some are former high school and collegiate level athletes, some are business professionals that work at a desk all day and some may have no athletic or fitness background of any kind.  Rest assured, most every client you gain will be different.

When starting your commercial gym or expanding your facility, investing in equipment that can be used by any one of your clients will return the highest investment both from your perspective and from theirs.  A gym full of 24kg and 32kg kettlebells or 14lb and 20lb medicine balls might leave some members frustrated and unable to work well with those tools.

We've chimed in before about pieces like the Glute Ham Developer and Rower.  Both are stellar, but come with a hefty price tag.  In some cases, for the price of one rower or GHD you can equip your gym with all the essentials to be able to add another athlete to one of your classes.

One of the pieces we love to see in every gym is gymnastics rings.  A fantastic training tool for both the upper body and core conditioning, gymnastics rings have one attribute that no other piece can claim.  They are remarkably adjustable in scaling an exercise.  There are really no sizes to consider, only the length of strap or webbing that comes with them.

Look at the 24kg kettlebell for a moment.  A must have for any gym, yet for some movements it can be either too challenging or not challenging enough.  To change the scale you either need to adjust reps or adjust weight.  The same goes for the medicine ball, for example.  Another versatile training tool perfect for the gym, but like the kettlebell, it is one of those pieces that needs to be purchased by size to appeal to the broadest range of athletes.

Gymnastics Rings differ in their unique adjustability.  That same set of rings can challenge any athlete by changing the leverage that the athlete has against them.   Consider the ring pushup.  The beginner may start with the rings as high as waist level.  The higher the rings, the easier the movement becomes.  Similarly, if the horizontal plank ring pushup doesn't prove enough of a challenge for your higher level athletes, keep the rings suspended just above the floor but now raise the feet of the athlete.

The same goes for ring rows, ring dips, muscle ups, pull ups and more.  By varying the height of the rings, the athlete can dial in a challenging movement.

For these reasons we've named Gymnastics Rings as one of our top five pieces to outfit the commercial facility or garage gym.  Want a look at all five of our top picks to get your gym up and running while saving you the most startup costs?  Our free Buyers Guide is an easy read with some great tips on equipment.  Get it here --->

It is our passion to see the gym owner succeed with some of the best equipment that is up to task in the harsh environment of the commercial facility.

Getting ready to start or expand your facility?  We can help.  Get in touch with us for a free, no obligation consult on how we can best fill your equipment needs.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hanging Gymnastics Rings and Climbing Ropes

Many of our strength training and conditioning tools are quite simple to put into use.  Take the kettlebell for instance.  It doesn't take a lot of setup time to get right to it.  Your hardest challenge with a great tool like that is to think of how you are going to use it.  It brings a ton of exercises to the table.

Equipment items such as gymnastics rings and climbing ropes, however, require a bit more preplanning and installation before you can incorporate them into the next workout.  There are some quick ways to get them out of the box and into the workout, but hanging both of these tools from well overhead will make them the most useful.

Gymnastics rings can perform well when suspended from a wall mounted pull-up bar, but when hung from that lower height you can miss out on many exercises that you can do with them such as the Muscle Up.  And if your pull-up bar doesn't stand out far enough from the wall [we recommend 30"] then exercises like the ring dip and ring row can be a tight fit.

The climbing rope is another fantastic tool that develops more than just pulling strength.  It's a great core workout too.  But without a high enough point from which to hang it, many can leave the climbing rope out of their gym and not be able to reap the rewards it brings.

Here at Hammerhead, we've designed two immensely popular hanging systems for Gymnastics Rings and Climbing Ropes that can be used by the Garage Gym athlete and the Commercial Gym owner alike.

Our first system, the Gymnastics Ring Hanger, is a compact, yet super strong mounting system with welded attachments that hold your rings safely and securely.  The heavy duty round pins welded into the bottom of those attachments are wide enough so that our straps ride securely and smoothly with no chance of bunching up or fraying.  Spaced at 20" apart, the rings are the most comfortable for any sized athlete.  But our ring hanger doesn't stop there.  We've added two mounting holes in the center to accept our optional climbing rope attachment.  We love finding new ways to use our equipment and adding a climbing rope to the ring hanger just made perfect sense.  Cool!

With the Commercial Gym owner in mind we took our Gymnastics Rings hanger a few steps further.  With 5-10 athletes or more in every class, we needed to come up with a good solution to allow more more room on the bracket for additional sets of rings or multiple climbing ropes.  At more than twice the length of our garage gym piece, our Adjustable Ceiling Mount System comes in at 72" long with 19 different mounting points along the rail.  With all those mounting points to choose from there's plenty of room for multiple climbing ropes or rings right on the same bracket.

And one side note that we think is super important.  All of our Hammerhead products - whether they be pull up bars, affiliate rigs, gymnastic ring hangers or plyo box series - all of them come with all the hardware you need to install.  Nothing is more frustrating that realizing you'll have to run off to the hardware store once you open your package.  When you order a product from Hammerhead, it's included as part of the price.

Ready to add a set of Gymnastics Rings or a Climbing Rope to your game?  Buy our hanging systems and kits here.

See our Commercial Gym sized Hanging System in Action below:

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Dynamax Medicine Ball - Your Swiss Army Knife

When we see ingenuity at work we've just got to shout out about it.  Here at Hammerhead, we've always been big fans of doing more with less.  So much so that we even wrote an Equipment Buyer's Guide for the aspiring gym owner that outlines five pieces of equipment that no gym should be without.

 The Equipment Buyers Guide
One of those mandatory pieces, without a doubt is the Medicine Ball.

So versatile it can be used for instructing the beginner in movements like the squat, the clean and overhead squat (just to name a few) but is also ready to challenge intermediate and high level athletes with weighted dips, 2-for-1s* and russian twists.

*The 2-for-1is a super challenging variation on the wall ball.  The standard wall ball throw requires the athlete to toss the ball up at a target, catch it when it returns then perform a squat before throwing the ball at the target again.  The 2-for1 adds an additional squat in the movement which is to be performed as the ball is in the air.

Today, however, I saw another fantastic use for the ball when I was out at +Victor CrossFit.  A full range GHD situp can be challenging for beginners or for those that have mobility issues.  Adding a Medicine Ball at the bottom of the movement can reduce that range of motion.  For those athletes that want to add intensity, do what Mary Anne is doing here and add a second med ball.

No Glute Ham Developer?  No problem.  You can still incorporate the medicine ball in your core work with movements like:

  • The Catapult Situp - add a medicine ball to the sit up movement and keep the ball positioned overhead through the whole range of motion.  At the top of the movement, throw the ball against the wall and catch it.
  • Knees to Elbows - keep a medicine ball pinched between your feet or knees.
  • Medicine Ball Pass - to get the core involved, line the class up, everyone facing front and about three feet apart.  Send a 20lb medicine ball down the line and back while maintaining eyes and feet forward.  We've also seen a variation of this where everyone sits with backs against the wall while the ball is passed.
  • Partner Wall Ball - With two partners facing each other and a pull-up bar overhead and in between [this works best with athletes standing inside our pull up rig], the first partner throws the ball over the pull-up bar while partner two catches and throws back.  This makes for a good warm up drill too.
We're proud to offer the Dynamax Medicine Ball.  It is by far one of the most durable products we have seen on the market.  It's 100% US Made and boasts a 5 Year Warranty.  And we've seen more and more gyms take advantage of skinning the medicine balls with colors that blend in with their gym decor.  Dynamax offers 17 different colored medicine ball combinations that all look great.  +CrossFit Main Line & CrossFit R5 color coded their medicine balls by weight to make it easy on the athletes to grab the proper size.

Want to keep versatility high in your gym with another great US Made product?  Have a look at our Medicine Ball lineup here.  Need a custom quote of three or more?  Send us a note here.