It’s not news that our Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) community is growing, it’s arguably the largest fitness movement the world has ever seen. Millions of people, who might have never joined a gym, are being drawn to the community and sport of OCR and gathering in large groups with like-minded people to train for these events. With this growth there is a big push for OCR-specific training.

Participants are looking for gyms and trainers that understand their fitness needs and can help them prepare for the courses and challenges. Good news is you can easily meet this demand - and in a fun and cool way. From incorporating OCR-specific moves, to transforming your space with OCR-specific equipment, to programming, let’s take a look at how you can become an OCR-friendly gym with these creative ideas. You’ll find that your members will appreciate it and quickly spread the word.

Modify traditional exercises to incorporate OCR-specific skills

OCR gives you an opportunity to change the way you train and change the way you coach. On course, participants encounter obstacles that require grip and pull strength, cardiovascular endurance, heavy carries and core strength. Trainers can make slight modifications to exercises with traditional equipment to improve any of the specific skill sets mentioned above.

An excellent example is the trusty dumbbell. It’s been around forever and the movements associated with dumbbells have been too. However, by tweaking traditional exercises with the dumbbell a familiar movement can be transformed into an OCR-specific training exercise.

Let’s take a closer look at using the dumbbell to increase grip and pull strength with one arm dumbbell snatches. Most of the time when doing this exercise, people do five reps on each arm and switch. But by making a small tweak like switching hands every rep, this exercise becomes an excellent way to work the grip and pull strength. Working the grip strength is especially important, it’s the number one reason people fail obstacles out on course.

Take a simple movement, tweak it and grip strength is going to increase. Let’s say a person does five sets of ten on each arm twice a week over the course of the year. Over the course of a year that’s the difference between doing 1,040 hand switches when doing 5 reps on each side without switching versus 5,200 hand switches when switching every rep.

Add OCR-specific training equipment

OCR also gives you a way to recreate the footprint within your gym. Creating a space that invites OCR-specific training is an effective way to cater to the growing OCR community. Just by adding a few pieces of OCR-specific equipment to the functional training pieces you already have, you can transform your space into an OCR training powerhouse.

The leading OCR equipment providers have even put together OCR-specific training equipment into kits based on the number of participants you expect and the square footage of your space. This makes it easy to get the right quantities of everything you need and helps create an inviting space for OCR athletes who are members at your gym.

Just by adding a piece of equipment like the Core Hammer, allows your clients to work on grip strength while performing swings and various other training exercises, you can begin to transform your space. Place all the OCR equipment together, add some fun OCR signage and maybe even add a TV screen to loop OCR races or exercises for extra motivation.

Another fun idea is to purchase some of those orange five-gallon buckets from your local hardware store. Many OCR races require you to carry a weight filled bucket as an obstacle. Throw a few OCR-specific stickers on your buckets and you can create a magnet in your gym. Your client base can easily throw a sandbag/sandbell in the bucket and use during step-ups, lunges, squats, etc.

Add OCR-specific programming

Incorporating OCR into your programming is a great way to help your members prepare to be successful out on the course while creating excitement about your fitness center and classes. Here are some ideas to help build your OCR community.

Freshen-up your classes by incorporating OCR training methods into fitness boot camps, group exercise and personal training to help your members prepare for obstacles out on course.

Create an OCR-specific training class like rope climbing. Ropes can be used to create several obstacles your clients face out on course while also working grip and pull strength in various ways. Having a rope climb station at your gym will allow them to train for the rope climb obstacle they’ll see at just about every race they sign up for. Attach a rope to a weighted sled and this will allow your members to train the rowing motion required to conquer the plate drag that is common at many races. Having a rope set-up for what is commonly called a “battling rope station” will allow your clients to work on their grip strength while also performing many great functional training exercises.

Offer an OCR-specific training workshop to generate interest and follow-up with an offer to join a fee-based 30-, 60-, or 90-day small group training program that ends with the group conquering an obstacle course race near you.

Offer OCR-specific personal training. This is a great way to reach those OCR athletes who want to take their performance to the next level.

Choose an upcoming race and set up a training program geared toward preparing for that race to connect members to each other, the staff and the facility.

OCR gives us an opportunity to get creative. Throw something new at your members, challenge them, show them new moves they haven’t done before, and give them equipment and classes they haven’t tried before. With functional fitness and the world of OCR, you can create a fun package of specific offerings to build your OCR community. They’re going to appreciate your creativity and support, and you’re going to become known as an OCR-friendly gym.