Feature Article - February 2012
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Operations & Maintenance: Fitness Facilities

Formula for Fitness Facilities

By Tammy York

Fitness facilities receive a lot of use on a daily basis. Some of the most basic and common management practices, such as daily walk-throughs and regular cleaning of the equipment and facility, will help to increase the lifespan of equipment within the fitness facility. Even though this is painfully obvious and simple—it is also one of the most commonly overlooked tasks.

To begin the fitness facility's day, a regularly scheduled walk-through should occur and include turning on the lights, fans and televisions, as well as evaluating each piece of equipment such as elliptical, treadmills, steppers and weightlifting to make sure that each piece is working properly.

This means having a dedicated staff member responsible for turning on a piece of equipment and checking to make sure that everything from the LCD screen to the actual mechanisms of the equipment is working properly. In addition to this, perform a simple evaluation of the overall condition of the machine, including the belts, cables and pulleys. This is especially important regarding weightlifting systems to ensure that no one will have a nasty surprise later in the day.

Visually check that treadmill belts are properly aligned. If a belt isn't aligned properly it can fray and create a costly repair or someone could be injured.

With cable weights and other pieces of exercise equipment that use weights based on a pulley system, it is important to check for frayed cables. Cables that exhibit signs of wear should be replaced and the machine placed on hiatus until such maintenance is completed. "Test the range of motion on strength equipment. The operator needs to take it through the push and pull to make sure the unit operates smoothly," said Bryan Green, president and CEO of Advantage Fitness Products which designs and supplies commercial fitness environments. "If the weight pin is jammed or the unit does not feel like it is properly lubricated, then that needs to be addressed."

The upholstery experiences a heavy amount of wear and should be checked daily for signs of damage and any exposed sharp edges. To increase the lifespan, keep the upholstery clean and advise users on placing down a towel as well as wearing proper clothing when working out. They should not wear clothing with buttons or tabs that can tear at the upholstery.

Systematic Maintenance

There are a myriad of companies, including many of the vendors that sell commercial-grade equipment, that provide ongoing maintenance contracts. If your facility receives a high amount of use, it might be wise to invest the money in a maintenance contract. Most contracts allow for a maintenance technician to come out on either a monthly or quarterly basis to examine, maintain and repair the equipment.

Maintenance technicians will check for common things such as frayed cables or worn-out belts, and will also clean the internal components of the machine. This is very important if your facility receives a high amount of use because dust, cotton fibers and general dirt and debris can cause extensive damage to the motor. The damage can be severe enough to warrant replacing the motor or the entire machine—an expensive option for any facility.

Another benefit of having a maintenance service contract is that typically you are higher up on the food chain for receiving prompt service for any unexpected repairs, as maintenance contract providers will naturally fix their regular clients' equipment first.