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How to ensure you are selecting the best strength equipment for your members and their needs.

Choosing the right strength equipment and layout of a fitness facility is a fun challenge for community recreation operators. If your facility works around equipment leases, you typically get an opportunity for a makeover every four to eight years. If you purchase equipment outright, it is usually done in smaller amounts.

While there are plenty of opportunities to pick out strength equipment, how do you make sure you are picking the right piece for your facility?

For the Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation team in Carmel, Indiana, one of the ways they make equipment decisions is by performing at least one large survey of their membership base per year.

“We use the results of those surveys to gauge our members’ interest in new types of equipment, and to see how they are feeling toward equipment we currently have on our floor,” said Eric Mehl, the recreation and facilities director for Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation. “This helps us understand from a user perspective how our equipment is performing and withstanding use over the years.”

Additionally, Carmel Clay Parks and Rec tracks maintenance they need to perform on each piece of equipment. The more time spent maintaining it, the more likely it is to get replaced sooner. “We also have an ongoing capital replacement plan outlined to help us map out which pieces or areas of equipment need to be replaced and when,” said Mehl. “This way we do not have all of our equipment going out of warranty at the same time. We continue to invest in equipment on a rotating basis to keep costs spread out while still being able to keep things fresh.”

John Hamrick, the executive director and association health living director at the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg in Spartanburg, South Carolina, said a key factor when buying strength equipment is deciding if you want to have a functional fitness, free weights or selectorized area. 

“If you are looking to change your gym’s image or add a new dynamic you might be missing, then you need to be very strategic about your equipment investments,” said Hamrick. “If you are looking to provide a more functional feel to your gym, you need to declutter to open additional space. Avoid machines that only train one specific muscle or movement. If you are trying to cater to a more clinical/novice population, you want to go the opposite route.”

Overall, Hamrick said facilities should select equipment that is simple, easy and effective to use. 

“Machines that work one specific purpose are not intimidating for new users and can be easily figured out,” said Hamrick. “Isolated selectorized machines are great for clinical settings because they are typically trying to work something very specific. Free weight machines are a must for your average gym and if you are trying to bring in a younger, athletic population having a large selection of plate-loaded machines is a great place to start.”

While there are a plethora of options, knowing your membership base and their needs will help make selecting strength equipment easy. 

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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