All the tips and advice needed to refresh facility equipment layouts.
What makes the perfect fitness facility? Answers will vary, but arguably the most important facet of a fitness center is the carefully planned layout of all equipment available to visitors.
Creating a beautiful and modern environment attracts gym-goers, but it’s even more vital to guarantee patrons will be safe and comfortable while exercising. In short, the success of your community center depends heavily on the design of your floor plan.
Mapping Out the Fitness Floor
That’s why Mandy Jenkins, the program director of sports, fitness and aquatics at the Memphis JCC, said her team has mapped out the total square footage of their facility to achieve a successful scheme.
“We have spaced out the weight machines with six feet in mind, so members won’t bump into each other while adjusting weights,” said Jenkins. “Keep in mind the organization and functionality for the best use of the space, demographic and needs of the space regardless if it’s a boutique facility, group fitness or standard fitness floor setting.”
After plotting the fitness area, Jenkins said the next step is purchasing and offering a wide selection of mixed brands and vendors for visitors to enjoy like Precor, Life Fitness, Octane Fitness, Freemotion Fitness and Titan Fitness.
“All members have their favorite pieces of equipment that fit their bodies and needs for either a sport or traditional patterns of movement,” said Jenkins. “In my experience of having a mixed population in our facility, it has been beneficial to offer a variety of pieces to benefit those who are post rehab/surgery, as well as young athletes, adults and mature exercise populations.”
Selecting Equipment Partners
However, Jenkins advised to select vendors who match the needs of your center’s demographics and what you want to achieve from a fitness standpoint. Once equipment is selected, then comes the task of deciding where everything should go. Jenkins said her team has purposefully separated treadmills, recumbent bikes and ellipticals in sections on the fitness floor to make them easy to locate.
Also, rehab and gentle workout pieces are placed closer to handicap entrances. Equipment for a more experienced audience like barbells, boxing bags and kettlebells are kept in a separate space.
A similar strategy is found at the Shaw JCC of Akron where Lynn Satow, the fitness director, said the layout is divided into several segments based on the needs of members.
For example, Satow said they have an area specifically designated for free weight usage and another space for circuit equipment. “Currently the layout works well and members can move around pretty easily,” she said. “However, we are evolving and have a several-year strategy in place to optimize the space we have for the fitness center. These changes will include altering and condensing flow of the circuit equipment so members can move around efficiently based on the natural flow of the exercises.”
Moving forward, Satow said they will allow more space for functional movements like medicine ball and slam ball exercises which have been an industry trend over the last few years. Multi-function stations several members can use at once will also be incorporated.
Another piece of advice Satow shared is to avoid spending thousands of dollars on the “fad of the year.” Instead, focus on global trends that can always be utilized and provide the ability to update spaces.
“Cardio will most likely be one area members go to first, so I would not suggest making someone walk through a busy lifting area to get to the cardio equipment,” added Satow. “We have cardio equipment available by the first entrance. Even though this is all in one long room, the separation allows for safe, efficient movement.”
When it comes to equipment vendors, Satow suggested doing research and considering brands with a good warranty and maintenance track record to prioritize quality over quantity. While organizations utilizing a variety of brands report success, there are layout benefits to establishing a positive relationship with a primary vendor.
Installing New Equipment
This is what the leadership team at the Edwardsville YMCA did when they recently decided to install all-new equipment for the fitness center. They selected TRUE Fitness, and Dawn Cunningham, the membership and wellness director at the Meyer Center, said they have seen strong results since the switch.
“You need to really investigate what works best for your organization,” said Cunningham. “There are many things to consider such as quality of equipment, finances, maintenance packages and follow-through from your sales rep after the sale. Our current layout consists of mainly TRUE Fitness equipment. They have been a pleasure to work with, and we have created a great partnership with a local company as well.”
One of the Edwardsville YMCA’s new floor design strategies was the decision to cut the selectorized fitness equipment numbers in half to make room for more functional training space. Cunningham said this allowed for the addition of the TRUE Atlas in both of the Y’s fitness locations.
The Atlas is a freestanding group training system that has options for customization with functional training and accessory add-ons. This move allowed for more open space, which visitors have reacted positively toward.
“We are giving people more areas for stretching and personal training, and they have been very welcoming of it,” said Cunningham. “We now have larger walking paths along with plenty of space in our free weight room. In the future, we would like to add turf to allow for more options such as sled work, sprint training, etc.”
Monica Snook, the Niebur Center branch director of the Edwardsville YMCA, echoed similar, important advice as Jenkins and Satow. Before deciding on how to place your equipment, get to know who your visitors are and accommodate their needs to the best of your ability.
After all, great facility equipment layouts may set you up for success, but the happiness and assured safety of patrons is what will make a gym complete.
Photo courtesy of the Edwardsville YMCA.