The fitness equipment in your community rec center is a first impression many new members evaluate. In fact, equipment can determine whether a member participates in a group exercise class or even joins your rec center at all.
To attract and retain members, Lynn Satow, the fitness director at the Shaw JCC of Akron, Ohio, incorporates the latest interactive equipment. “Equipment that is going to give someone some feedback — mainly because they have pre-programmed capabilities for a particular workout — or a tech hook-up to get feedback as to how well they are doing is popular,” she said.
Satow also finds that interactive equipment helps motivate those who are competitive and enjoy social interaction. “In cycling studios, you may have someone’s heart rate and their intensity of the exercise up on a board in front of a class so you can measure against each other,” she said. “For some people that’s very motivating — to see how they’re doing compared to the next guy.”
The use of interactive equipment is not only beneficial for members, it can also help generate extra revenue in the long run. “There are certain bikes out there that give you feedback as far as your wattage or intensity, and sometimes you can upgrade those for an extra fee, creating an extra income stream,” said Satow.
With upgraded and tech-savvy equipment, Satow emphasized how important it is for members to be familiar with the machines. “You want to make people feel comfortable on the equipment — you want to make sure your fitness floor staff is capable of making sure members are using equipment correctly, it’s user-friendly, and they understand how to use it so they are not intimidated,” she said.
To make sure members are satisfied with the current equipment you offer, Satow finds surveys and being accessible to members provide the best feedback. “Have your group exercise instructors take a poll of the classes and make yourself accessible so you are hearing any type of feedback from members — good or bad — make sure they are happy,” she said. “I think it’s important to have that feedback and that connective conversation with your members.”
While trends are constantly changing, Satow pointed out the difference between trends and fads, and how that can affect your facility. “A trend is going to top out after a few years, but it’s going to be pretty consistent and the market is going to continue to grow for whichever piece of equipment,” she explained. “A fad might be out there for a year or two, and you can see yourself investing a lot of money. Then two years down the road, it’s gone by the wayside and we’re onto something else, or maybe it’s been proven to not be that effective.”
When asked where she believes the future of fitness equipment is going, Satow believes interactive technology will continue to grow, as well as a rise in sustainability. “I also see some new green equipment out there where the treadmills, bikes and other machines can actually retain the energy output that the member is establishing so the facility can use that energy in the building,” she said. “I think that’s very exciting and I would love to see more of it.”