Feature Article - February 2012
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Operations & Maintenance: Fitness Facilities

Formula for Fitness Facilities

By Tammy York

Reporting Problems

At a large fitness facility during the course of the day, if a treadmill or elliptical is not operating, then odds are a patron will simply move to another machine and not alert staff. However, once you have buy-in from the patrons and you have a system that is easy for them to use, keeping up with the fitness equipment will be a lot easier.

It can be something as simple as a laminated "Out of Order" card for them to place on the machine. If each machine is individually numbered then it is easy for them to report to the facility manager via face-to-face, phone or e-mail which specific machine is malfunctioning.

Reserving Time

If your facility has a high amount of use at common times, such as prior to the workday, noon and at the end of the workday, then you might find it beneficial for your patrons to use an electronic calendaring system. This simple reservation system helps alleviate traffic jams at favored pieces of fitness equipment.

The patrons log in to an online calendar and reserve a specific piece of fitness equipment such as a treadmill, elliptical or stepper for a set period of time. This is the same type of system that is used for scheduling meeting rooms, just adapted for fitness equipment.

Most of the time spans are for 20-minute increments and patrons are requested that if they're unable to make this time to cancel the reservation. If the fitness equipment is reserved and the person who reserved it fails to show, then that the machine goes to first-come, first-served.

Keeping Accessories Fresh

Consumable fitness accessories are an affordable and vital component of any fitness facility. These items include stability balls, foam rollers, yoga mats and resistance exercise bands. Since these easy-to-use items receive a high amount of use, it's important to inspect them on a regular basis for abrasions or soiling.

"Typically a moderate-use facility should expect to replenish these items biannually. And for higher-use facilities, quarterly replacement is strongly recommended," Green said. "Beyond the concern for the general appearance, these products must be regularly replaced for hygienic reasons."

Controlling Costs

If your facility is small, don't make the mistake of purchasing residential-grade fitness equipment. While this equipment is typically fine for the home user it will not be able to withstand the constant use it will receive in a fitness facility. Commercial-grade equipment is made with components that can withstand a higher level of wear and tear.

Locker Rooms

Fitness facility locker space is limited, but there is still a need to provide ample locker space for participants. However, some people who exercise on a regular daily basis want to maintain a locker. This reduces the total amount of locker space available throughout day, as well as the week. To solve this problem some facilities have divided and conquered.

The lockers can be divided evenly into weekly rentals and hourly use with the locks being provided by the fitness facility. The weekly rentals are available on a first-come first-served basis. The hourly lockers are used during the times when the person is working out at the facility. The patron submits a photo ID to check out the lock and receives their photo ID back when they return the lock.


The flooring in the fitness facility needs to be nonslip, nonporous and has to meet all of the functional requirements of exercise. "We recommend an engineered sport flooring surface of rubber, sprung wood floor with cushioning underneath, or the vinyl made specifically for fitness flooring," Green said. "The surface needs to have some cushion and be able to handle heavy pieces of equipment on it."

Making It Work

A fitness facility has many different variables the two most important being the equipment and the patrons. To make your fitness facility run smoothly, keep the equipment in good working order and invite the patrons to be active and involved members of your team.