An emerging theme in 2014 has been the increased popularity and demand for fitness accessories. For members who train on a consistent basis, accessories offer variety within a daily individual workout plan. In group exercise or small group training, they allow for multiple members to perform similar movements and exercises without the need of machines or bulky bars and plates. A growing number of new and innovative accessories are available to club owners today that open the door to endless possibilities and combinations.

All of these things drive traffic and attention to your facility—helping you retain existing members and entice prospects to become new members. From the largest club chains to the smaller regional facilities, club operators are saying the same thing over and over: new "toys" enhance new member sales and keep existing members coming back.

Key products such as training ropes, kettlebells, slam balls and medicine balls are what today's fitness consumers want and what your club must have.

When it comes to working out, getting into an ongoing routine in the gym can sometimes end in frustration for members as their bodies adapt to the monotony of their training sessions and results slow dramatically. That is why your most avid members look to mix up their routines. That also is where the utilization of accessories in weight or strength training sessions allows for the inclusion of dynamic movements that are unattainable through most free weights and machines.

Accessories such as training ropes allow your regular members to mix up their routines with movements that put less strain on their joints than weight training while providing similar benefits. They also allow for variants within traditional exercises to more specifically target certain muscle groups—for instance, incorporating balance boards into a push-up routine. Accessories also make it easy for members to make quick weight changes for circuit training, keeping their workouts timely and efficient and leading to a more productive workout and a feeling of success that will keep them coming back (and may get them to bring a friend or family member with them).

The varying levels of resistance on many accessories allow your facility to meet members at their current fitness level, expanding your reach and potential new member pool from the fitness enthusiast to teens, adults and seniors.

The impact of accessories on your club does not stop with the individual member benefits. Group exercise and small training groups are leveraging accessories to reach a diverse population of members at varying levels of fitness.

Take medicine balls, for example. A stronger member may use a 15-pound medicine ball, but that does not exclude a member at a beginner level who may only be able to use a 6-pound medicine ball in a group setting.

Clubs can no longer afford to target fitness enthusiasts alone. Fitness is for everyone. More importantly, group exercise needs to appeal to the growing demographic of people who want to work out for the functional benefits. Functional moves with kettlebells, slam balls and medicine balls that translate into everyday activities such as picking up your child, moving boxes or simply walking up the stairs to the office are what today's members want from their gym experience.

Many of these members also want to have a good time with their friends while they exercise, something referred to as "social exercise." Members who work out together in group settings are more likely to visit their club on a consistent basis and encourage their friends and family members to join.

Another emerging trend within this group fitness category that can benefit from the use of accessories is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which can incorporate varying accessories for each interval, helping your members lose weight, gain muscle and improve their cardiovascular health in as little as 15 minutes.

Because group exercise and fitness trends such as HITT are growing at an unprecedented rate and are more popular than ever, related products and accessories are in high demand from both commercial and individual user segments, which means this is more than a trend; it is here to stay, and it is obviously vital for retention and acquisition.

Even with all of these new accessories added to the product mix, storage should not be a problem. Most clubs can fit accessories for up to a 30-person class in the same space as a small closet.

Accessories serve several key roles for your facility. From individual needs and group classes to the rise of new trends such as HIIT and social exercise, accessories provide the much-needed boost in excitement your facility needs for member acquisition and retention. They also help facilitate the overall customer experience by providing options and new tools that allow members to see results and achieve their personal goals of improving their everyday lives.

This content was sponsored by Power Systems.

Power Systems, the leading provider of fitness equipment and accessories, was founded by Bruno and Julie Pauletto in 1986 and is recognized throughout the sports and fitness industries for its complete selection, superior customer care and fast delivery. Power Systems is committed to quality, innovation and service—utilizing a knowledgeable, professional and dedicated team to exceed customer expectations. All of our business transactions reflect a firm commitment to our core value: integrity.