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It might not seem like a big deal, but your fitness floor layout plays a major role in the way members perceive your facility. Low amounts of available equipment or traffic jams in between machines are a turn-off, which means fitness equipment is virtually ineffective if it’s not arranged in an intuitive way.

To ensure her members get their workouts in and go home happy afterwards, Lynn Satow, the fitness director for the Shaw JCC of Akron, puts a lot of thought into that area’s layout and how it can affect the member experience:

What factors contribute to an effective fitness floor layout?

LS: What’s definitely important is equipment placement and the space you have. Some of the most effective layouts would be based on a natural flow of exercises — that decides where those machines would be placed. For instance, if you’re working with legs, you’re going to have your leg extensions, knee curls, leg presses and all that equipment close together. You’re not going to have one here and another one across the floor. So you want to take a look at the natural flow of what an exercise regimen might be, and then you want to have enough space so your clients are comfortable and not packed in. You want enough space for members to get in and out, and not be bumping into each other.

How is the member experience affected by a great fitness floor layout?

The weight room serves a variety of members at the Shaw JCC.

LS: As far as an effective layout and the experience, you want to have enough machines for what exercises would be done on the fitness floor. Is it easy for members to get their workouts done in a nice smooth flow while not crossing paths with one another and having to take turns as often? So for the amount of people using a particular piece of equipment, sometimes you have multiples because it’s a popular exercise or something that works with a large muscle group.

Besides just the equipment layout, you’ll want to think about things like lighting, music, heating and air conditioning, and cleanliness — that’s all going to be part of the member experience. And if it’s not working, you’re going to hear about it and that’s going to mitigate their experience a little bit.

What should community rec centers consider when laying out their fitness floors?

LS: First of all, you want to think about your membership in general — who is your audience? We have a very broad audience, from youngsters on up to people who are 90-years-old. We have a large senior contingent because we have the Silver Sneakers program here. So I have to know that when I’m laying out that floor. It’s got to be easy for everyone to navigate — some people do come in with walkers, so we need to have enough room for them.

We need to have the appropriate amount of equipment. For instance, that audience is going to use the recumbent bikes a lot. We almost have arguments making sure we’re not on the recumbent bike too long. We want to make sure everyone can get their turn in.

We also have a contingent of people in their 20s doing a lot of heavy lifting. We take a look at that and make sure we have enough room on our floor to safely work with power lifts, squats and those exercises. We’ve got our cardio side — which we had professionally laid out — our circuit equipment, and then a separate free weight side. But the main thing is taking a look at who your audience is, before you actually start looking into new equipment.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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