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On-Site Fitness Center

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If you have a small facility (100-200 users), you will need at least 2 different types of major cardio machines. Choose from treadmills, bikes, elliptical trainers, stair climbers, or rowers. You will also need to cover each major muscle group with regard to strength training. At a minimum, you can accomplish this with a multi-station and a rack of dumbells.

If you have a medium facility (200-400 users), you will need at least 4 cardio machines (2 from each category). Choose from treadmills, bikes, elliptical trainers, stair climbers, or rowers. You will also need more strength training equipment than a smaller facility. For example, a circuit of 4-6 combinations stations or a small circuit of 6-8 single stations should do the trick.

If you have a large facility (400+ users), you will need one major cardio machine for every 100 potential users. Note: the emphasis should be placed on user preferences. If you don't know, you can conduct a survey before the decision is made. With regard to strength training equipment, you will need a complete circuit of 8-12 single stations plus free weights. As a general guideline, consider the importance of a free weight and/or stretching area to your users before making a final decision.

Should I lease or purchase my equipment?
Leasing is an attractive option if you're initial budget is limited---or if your business operates in a seasonal industry---because leasing allows you to make smaller, monthly payments over the term of the lease. "Lease to own" plans allow you to make monthly payments AND own the equipment at the end of the lease.

Purchasing the equipment up front is going to save leasing/lending costs over the years. The equipment is owned immediately and the company does not need to worry about monthly bills. Reselling or trading in the equipment is also easier if you own it.

Should I buy used equipment or new?
Buying used equipment can be a gamble. There is normally not a warranty with used equipment since the original factory warranty is only honored for the original purchaser. This could lead to potential liability issues. Also, used equipment is usually in need of some "fix ups". It is not only frustrating to the users (downtime is more common), but the cost of repairs can be very expensive for the new owner.

Should I buy and extended warranty or maintenance contract?
It is a good idea to have a contract if you do not have a qualified repair/maintenance person on staff. Also, there are manufacturers who do not want anyone who is not factory authorized working on their equipment. So, a contract will not eliminate the need for repairs, but it may decrease the number of repairs needed (minimizing equipment downtime), and it will ensure that a qualified technician in maintaining your equipment.

Should the room be professionally staffed?
Hiring a management company to run a corporate wellness facility can have great rewards. There are many intangible benefits… for example, the staff may have ways to motivate users and ensure they stick with their exercise program (increasing your retention rates). And, if liability is a concern, having a qualified person monitoring the room will ensure people use the equipment safely-and with proper form.

The alternative is to have on staff employees be responsible for educating and training the users in the fitness center. There may be a few employees who have been personal trainers or are currently involved in local fitness programs that can help you design and operate the facility.

What are the benefits to my company of having an on-site fitness center?
There are many, including healthier/happier people, growth/marketing opportunities, new business generation, increased retention rates, and goodwill.

If you're a corporation and you've built an on-site fitness center for your employees, you will enjoy higher productivity, reduced absenteeism turnover, and lower healthcare costs. Keep in mind, having a top-notch fitness center on-site is also a great tool for attracting and retaining highly-marketable, talented employees.

How much should I invest in an on-site fitness center?
The budget process for a fitness center of any size must have a goal and a desired result. For example, if you see the fitness center as an investment, it will help you get the most out of the facility.

The following examples are merely guidelines, or starting points to be considered, when developing an on-site fitness center:

BASIC FITNESS CENTER ($15,000-$30,000)
This package would include enough cardio, strength, stretching, and entertainment equipment for employees to workout comfortably and not be crowded.

This package has all the tools needed to make the company want to show off its facility to potential employees or potential clients. The fitness center is designed to be an effective marketing tool (to help you grow) and a successful workout facility for your users (to help you make money).

This is the fully-staffed fitness center. It would completely replace the need for your clients to look anywhere else when trying to meet their fitness needs. It would not only generate enthusiasm amongst your users-it would save you users the cost of a health club membership and allow them to spend more time (with you) there at the facility. A facility of this magnitude would be able to track a user's personal progress and keep them motivated to stick with it for the long haul.

What can I do about security?
The more visible the room is to people, the less risk there is of any security problems. This can be done by adding windows to the room or by installing video surveillance cameras at the front desk. In addition, open, well-lit rooms help people feel energized and more secure. And if need be, you can add a card-entry/locking system… allowing only registered users to enter the room.

How do I plan the room to meet the needs of my users?
It's important to know who's using the fitness center-as well as what equipment they're using. And it's just as important to know WHY they're using something as it is to know WHY NOT. Here are a few ways to help plan the on-site fitness center without wasting a lot of time or money.

Ask your users, how many times per week do you use a fitness center? Ask your users, what time of day do you usually use the facility?

Ask your users, do you use treadmills? Upright or recumbent exercise bikes or both? Elliptical cross-trainers or stair climbers or both? Selectorized strength training machines or free weights or both? Ask them to estimate their time spent with each machine/week, then have them rank their top 3 preferences. Finally, ask them if they'd like to see anything new added to the facility.

Ask you user what they prefer to do while working out. Read? Watch TV? Listen to music? Work on the internet? (Yes, technology allows this now.) Nothing? Then ask them if they'd like to see any new entertainment equipment added to the fitness center.

Ask your users if they'd be interested in having personal trainers at the facility. If so, how much would they be willing to pay for a 30 minute or 60 minute session.

What are the most common mistakes that companies make when setting up an on-site fitness center?
Focusing on the 10% of people who are exercising rather than the 90% of people who are not. Find out why not!

Not having a system in place to keep the facility clean and maintained. This is easy with a few policies on cleanliness and an equipment maintenance contract.

Not having enough space between equipment in high traffic areas. Good planning and a comprehensive facility layout will help you avoid this situation.

Not planning for dedicated wall outlets or special electrical requirements for cardiovascular equipment. Again, this can be avoided with good planning up front.

Having doors that open up into the room. This will take up unnecessary space. Again, you can avoid this with good planning.

Having poor ventilation. Again... good planning.

Forgetting about flooring considerations. Again... good planning.

Not have personnel to develop, guide, and implement programs you offer. This should be considered when developing a budget and a plan for your facility.

Not having liability disclaimers throughout the facility. This is something you can easily create on the computer and post in your facility. Be sure to run it by your lawyer.

Not having a visually pleasing facility. Color and aesthetics are important. You can do something nice without adding a lot of cost if you just plan for it up front.

Not posting the hours of operation. It's important to monitor and control traffic in the facility to reduce the chance for security problems. This is easily solved by posting a sign and locking the doors then the facility is closed.

Adding a juice bar or snack area
Have adequate access to the room (doors)
Adding mirrors so users can check their form
Facing the equipment towards a window, pool, or TV
Building a separate area for stretching or free weights (consider flooring)
Adding tanning beds, a sauna, a steam room, or a day spa
Adding plants for beauty and fresh air.

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