Feature Article - February 2012
Find a printable version here

Operations & Maintenance: Fitness Facilities

Formula for Fitness Facilities

By Tammy York

Basic Cleaning

It is important that the facility be kept clean. One way of doing this, besides having a dedicated staff member to wipe down equipment, vacuum and clean the floors, and do basic cleaning, is to create a system that is easy for the patrons to help you keep the equipment in the facility clean.

Such simple systems as disposable cleaning wipes and a trash can at each workout station will encourage your members to clean off the equipment prior to using it and hopefully after they are done. Keeping the equipment cleaner will help reduce your maintenance cost as well as increase the satisfaction amongst your patrons.

"We have cleaning wipes and hand sanitizing gel dispensers at each station, and they are everywhere so it is convenient for people to use them," Anthuis said. "We also have a day porter on staff that wipes down all of the equipment and helps keep the facility clean throughout the day."

Other things that can be done to help mitigate the amount of sweat left on equipment is posting simple reminders such as laminated cards reminding patrons to place a towel down on the bench prior to working out. This also helps to reduce the wear and tear on the seam lines of upholstery.

Simple Safety

In the morning walk-through and throughout the day, basic safety measures need to be practiced. Make sure that power cords are not creating tripping hazards. Position fitness equipment so that if somebody goes flying off the back of a treadmill they won't go flying into the deck of another treadmill, elliptical or stepper machine, glass window or passersby.

"The safety of the user should be the primary concern. Making sure that the products are in proper working order is very important," Green said. "You want the user to have a good experience with a machine that is working smoothly and performing correctly without a lot of noise or vibration."

Other safety measures include diagrammed or photo instructional cards on the proper use of the equipment. This is not only important for the patron using equipment but also for the nearby patrons as well as for maintaining the equipment.

For free weight areas, post basic safety recommendations such as always making sure to have a spotter, using spring clips to secure the weight disks to the bar, not to overload the weights and to balance the weight.

Creating Buy-In

Your patrons are your greatest allies and can help you develop a sense of community within your fitness facility, increase membership and make your facility run smoother. "People volunteer for the wellness committee because they want to be involved in healthy living communities," Anthuis said. "Our wellness committee puts together activities throughout the year including aerobic and yoga classes as well as having healthy bake sales, walks and other workout programs."

To tap into the reservoir of knowledge that these fitness devotees have, consider creating a committee to help decide what fitness equipment, programming and other social exercise activities your facility will present. The committee should be composed of people from different demographics and probably should not exceed eight people. Committee members should be limited to two years with half of the committee being new members any given year.

"I rely on the wellness committee to suggest new fitness equipment and accessories," Anthuis said. "The group has a diverse depth of knowledge about fitness and can make better decisions as a group about fitness equipment and programs than a single person."

Your patrons are your greatest allies and can help you develop a sense of community within your fitness facility, increase membership and make your facility run smoother.