Maximizing Your Fitness Center Equipment Investment
A terrific article by Avi Shanbhag, Star Trac Fitness’s Service Key Account Manager, describes the critical importance of optimizing your health club and/or fitness center equipment investment. It’s the famous “Fram Oil Filter” commercial, “pay me now, or pay me later!” Make sure your investment is getting the proper TLC….
One of the largest expenses for a fitness facility is the purchase of their equipment. Maximizing the value of that investment is key to making sure it’s money well spent for the facility operators, amenity owners/managers, for the members, tenants, and for the facility’s overall image. With just a few simple steps, and a few minutes spent each day, facility owners and managers can make sure that they are getting the most out of every piece of equipment in their fitness center.
When a new piece of equipment is installed in a fitness facility, it’s bound to generate some excitement and buzz. But do you take the time to properly introduce everyone to the new equipment?
Everyone includes the members, of course, but it also includes club staff, personal trainers, maintenance team, and anyone that walks through the facility doors. Most manufacturers and distributors will send someone from their organization, either a sales rep, service tech, or Master Trainer, to introduce club and amenity staff to the ins and outs of the product. If they don’t, ask for it! They should be excited to show you all of the great features of the product. Some even offer product training videos on YouTube or their own website. Make sure to ask what resources are available to you!
Plus, the more in tune your staff is with the features of a product, the better they can engage members and get them excited about the new workout options. It offers personal trainers a chance to meet more members, and it shows your members that their well-being and fitness achievements matter to you. There’s safety to consider as well. Equipment should invite users to begin their workout without being too complex. But do you really want everyone hitting “Quick Start” on the innovative new product you just invested in? Teach them how to use it properly and show them the vast options available to them. You’ll see members get better workouts, try out the different programs, and see better results.
Daily Check List
You have a daily/weekly task checklist that need to be done in order to close out for the night or open in the morning, right? Does that list include simple steps like wiping down equipment, vacuuming underneath treadmills, testing cardio console buttons, or checking strength equipment cables and upholstery? It should. Just a few extra seconds spent at each piece of equipment might save you money in the long run with better maintenance, improved equipment function, and limited liability because you will be ahead of any issues that might arise.
Regular Check Ups
You take your car in for service. You (hopefully) schedule an annual physical for yourself. So why not do the same with your fitness equipment? While all manufacturers require minimum maintenance to be done in order to qualify for their warranties, sometimes embarking on a comprehensive preventive maintenance program can be daunting, especially if you have a large facility or multiple facilities or properties to maintain. If you aren’t sure where to start, check the equipment owner’s manual. And if you can’t find that, check the manufacturer’s or dealer’s website because most manuals are housed on their service pages. You can always check with your sales rep or service tech, as most dealers offer preventive maintenance programs (PM) so that operators can focus on the business side of their club or amenity fitness center.
When simple daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks are completed, you maintain the integrity of the club/amenity fitness and the equipment. You limit your liability because you are ahead of issues, and if you’re using an outside service provider you can also rely on their insurance coverage for additional protection. Consequently, the overall cost of ownership decreases because equipment repairs are done under warranty and parts are replaced before they do damage to the overall product.
Take a few extra minutes each day to inspect your equipment. It’s well worth the time to protect your financial investment.
Repair vs. Replace
Even if you are diligent about your preventive maintenance, your staff is keeping an eye on equipment performance, and you are up to date on your warranty work, there is still a finite life expectancy for all fitness equipment. While it varies by facility, depending on the amount of use, the condition of the equipment at the start, and the overall quality of the equipment, as a general rule of thumb, group cycles lasts 5-7 years, cardio equipment 7-10 years, and strength equipment 10+ years. But how does an operator know when they should consider replacing equipment versus continuing to repair or do preventive maintenance? It’s a judgment call. Clearly, when it becomes a safety concern, it’s time to replace. If you are spending more time with an “out of order” sign and more money fixing it than actually using it, it’s time. If you have the money in your budget to replace it, then it’s time. With a good preventive maintenance program, the numbers should tell the story. It will tell you how much it’s costing to repair each piece of equipment, how often a piece is in need of attention, and how often it takes to get the product fixed properly.
Keeping an eye on equipment means you can replace pieces as they need to be replaced, ensuring the club and amenity fitness centers are current and members/tenants are happy. If you do a full replacement of all products at one time, keep your members in mind. Offer them an alternate club to work out in during the installation process. Or schedule new equipment to arrive after hours when there is no impact to the members.
In short, if it makes sense for your facility for safety, member and tenant needs, and your budget replace your equipment. Then follow the steps above to make sure that members and staff know how to get the most out of the investment. A little knowledge will go a long way in making sure that each equipment purchase is maximized to its fullest potential for everyone.
By Avi Shanbhag, Service Key Account Manager for Core Health and Fitness, who manages all service activities for national and strategic accounts like LA Fitness, Town Sports International, and New Evolution Ventures.