Feature Article - February 2012
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Operations & Maintenance: Fitness Facilities

Formula for Fitness Facilities

By Tammy York

Maintenance contracts can be purchased at the same time the equipment is purchased or added on a later date. If a maintenance contract is added later, the first thing that will occur is an immediate safety check to make sure all of the units are operating safely. Each unit will be evaluated for the current condition and be brought back up to working performance by an authorized technician who replaces any worn parts, and makes sure that everything is properly lubricated and in working order.

If your facility has a variety of fitness equipment and your participants request different equipment, it is easier and more cost-effective to make that kind of change if you've purchased from the same vendor and have a maintenance contract with them. Often, the vendor will understand the benefit of giving you a higher trade-in value for the piece of equipment you decide to change out.

Some maintenance contract providers also offer an asset management system. This allows for the fitness facility manager to view online the inventory of the specific equipment that is in the facility, schedule emergency services for any down equipment, track the history of repairs, track the history of maintenance, receive help, download daily walk-through sheets, download specific information on the fitness equipment, and schedule regular preventative maintenance.

"We are with the same company that we bought the equipment from, the warranty and an ongoing maintenance contract," said Joe Anthuis, director, administration division, of the American Academy of Family Physicians, based in Leawood, Kan. "When we were looking at companies to purchase equipment from, we checked their references and looked to see if they had worked with facilities similar to ours. We looked for a committed response time and that they had a good trade-in policy if we decided to change out equipment."

In selecting a company to provide your fitness equipment, look for companies that also offer ongoing maintenance contracts, have several locations throughout your area, have a staff of technicians available to service the equipment, and have a dedicated response time to fixing any down equipment.

"Maintaining fitness equipment is much like maintaining the rest of the building's components," said Shari Epstein, director of research for the International Facility Management Association, the world's largest and most widely recognized association for professional facility managers. "If the various components and moving parts of the fitness equipment are maintained properly, it will increase the longevity of equipment. If no maintenance is applied, you end up paying the cost of replacing expensive equipment."

"Besides considering the cost of ownership, you also have a cost from an operational perspective. A good maintenance plan that is well executed can increase the useful lifespan of the fitness equipment by up to 60 percent. During the life of the equipment it will also reduce the costs of various repairs," Green said. "When people don't properly care for the equipment and follow manufacturer recommendations, the reality is things wear out prematurely and cost substantially more to fix."

The better maintained the equipment is the greater the amount of uptime. More uptime on the equipment means that the investment in equipment and in the maintenance is paying off.

Facilities that see a high usage rate will most likely benefit from a maintenance program. Some facilities with fewer pieces of equipment and a dedicated and technologically capable staff member able to service the equipment could opt to forgo a vendor-based maintenance program and only use the vendor for repairs. If this works for your facility, it is crucial to adhere to the manufacturer's guidelines on servicing the equipment and to keep accurate records.