As we’ve all continued to navigate our way back to a sense of normalcy from the effects of the pandemic, the strength & conditioning and personal training industries have undergone some radical transformations. While some of these transitions have been difficult and frustrating to work through, I believe we are reaching a point now where we are starting to see some of the new opportunities and advantages that have materialized in our new landscape. Primarily among these opportunities has been the rapid expansion of home gyms and at-home training modalities, and, for better or worse, this has become an ideal population for coaches and trainers to capitalize on.
Whether a coach or athlete, there are tremendous benefits to setting up a home gym- and as someone who never thought he’d say this, I can personally vouch for how beneficial it has been to have, especially if you’re on the coaching side of things. Not only have we been able to expand our income potential by seeing athletes at the house, but it has also made some of the more mundane aspects of coaching much more opportunistic (i.e., not having to go anywhere to shoot video content, providing a pseudo lab for movement experimentation). Although it was born out of necessity for us, being prompted to set up the home gym has been unquestionably beneficial.
Keys to Building a Home Gym
When putting together a home gym there are three empirical rules to work from- efficiency, surface area, versatility. This applies to both the layout of your space and the equipment you invest in, in which you want to analyze everything from the perspective of maximizing a minimal amount of space with enough variety, to be able to perform effective workouts with minimal constraints. When working with a small surface area, it is critical that the equipment you have is able to be used for multiple purposes and does not cover a lot of square footage. This helps from both an expense standpoint and also from a logistics point of view. More versatility over less surface area is ultimately what you’re looking to accomplish. Additional considerations here include how heavy or bulky equipment is, how difficult it is to set up and/or breakdown and the durability of the material. From all aspects and angles, you want to have equipment that is reasonably lightweight and easy to set up or breakdown. Again, this speaks to the day-to-day practicality of training, but also having long-term consideration so that you don’t feel obligated to sell things off in the event of a move or significant life change. This way, you can feel more comfortable investing your money into your set-up because you know it will get a good amount of use for several years to come irrespective of location or circumstances.
Taking all of these points outlined above, allow me to introduce you to ARENA, which I was very fortunate to be introduced to earlier this year, and believe it is the ultimate home gym asset for any coach or athlete.
Arena is a highly sophisticated piece of machinery that truly is an all-encompassing training tool. I’ve been a strength & conditioning coach for nearly a decade, and for the majority of those years have worked in a fully furnished high-performance setting that has provided me countless tools, technologies and novelties. I’m not sitting here saying that I’ve seen it all, but I have seen quite a bit, and very few things rival the Arena with regard to simplicity, effectiveness, and overall ergonomics of training.
Nevertheless, it didn’t take long before my wife and I were absolutely blown away by this equipment. The Arena has taken our home gym, for ourselves and for our athletes, to a new stratosphere. As small business owners (Rude Rock Strength) investments are critically important early on, particularly when capital and funding aren’t exactly in surplus. But it only took a couple of hours experimenting and learning the equipment before we knew we had something special with the Arena. Instantly we had a whole new viability for exercise selection and programming. It has allowed us to work with a broader spectrum of new clients, while also providing more robust training for athletes we had already been working with. It may sound like I’m gushing or even embellishing, but I honestly cannot recommend this piece of equipment highly enough, especially for those who are on the coaching side. From my point of view, I see three particular points that have stuck out to me since purchasing our Arena, which I’d like to cover in a little more detail.
1.) Extremely User Friendly
The first thing that stands out about the Arena is simplicity. With everything from unboxing to set up and daily use, it is hard for me to imagine something so robust being so seamless with set up and integration. There is virtually zero requirement for the set-up itself, only requiring the user to pair the unit to their phone, and the Bluetooth pairing is fantastic. The layout and navigation of the app itself is extremely well done, offering everything from preconstructed workouts to follow or an open freestyle mode that allows you to work with your own creativity. Adjusting the resistance on the Arena is very simple and can be increased or decreased in seconds. The unit is quiet, relatively lightweight, and holds a battery charge for several weeks if not months. And, to top things off, there is a good bit of data tracking and collection provided within the app. This allows you to monitor daily output, and track progress across weeks. All in all, it is a very impressive design, and very intuitive to use and get familiar with.
2.) An Impressive Versatility
Ok, if you thought I was gushing in the paragraphs above, brace yourself here. There is nothing that has jumped out to me about the Arena more than the versatility of movement permitted. I’ve spent the better part of the last 5 years studying fascial anatomy and working to integrate fascial based concepts into strength and conditioning practices. Among the many distinctions with fascial based training, chief among them is performing omnidirectional movement under varying resistance types and speeds. And this is exactly what the Arena can provide best: a wide spectrum of movement, traversing an array of positions and ranges, and doing so with a unique resistance type that is highly conducive to fascial based loading. It was love at first sight.
As you can see in the video compilation here, the movement spectrum possible with the Arena is virtually boundless. The cable allows you to truly explore any plane of motion, while the length offers room for some dynamic variations as well. On top of the freedom of movement, the transition between concentric and eccentric actions is extremely smooth, which is appreciated by your joints and connective tissue. The fluidity of the resistance allows the athlete to move in a very individualistic manner that appears (and feels) more natural than being under conventional static load.
3.) Exploratory or Mindless, the Choice is Yours
The design and the development of the Arena is exceptionally thorough, and it’s clear they took into consideration coaches being the end user. While the robust library of full training sessions is impressive, as a strength coach, I must say it was the freestyle option that sealed the deal for me. While the ability to experiment and explore through the freestyle option is immersive, the primary advantage to the freestyle option is being able to work the Arena in during circuits or supersets using other equipment. And with the simplicity of adjusting the resistance, it’s perfectly fit to have multiple athletes working through a circuit without disruption. The freestyle mode has definitely been inviting to utilize, and it’s the game changer from my perspective that separates the Arena from competitors.
Collectively speaking, the Arena is a tremendous asset for a home or recreational gym with truly impressive versatility. The Arena is simple to operate and takes up very little space, allowing it to be easily worked into circuits utilizing other equipment. The resistance is very smooth offering a more natural resistance than conventional static load and allows the athlete to perform movements in a very intuitive manner. The freestyle mode allows you to be exploratory with movements, being limited only by your own imagination. With the continued rise of at-home and remote based training, I cannot encourage coaches and trainers enough to get familiar with this equipment!