Facility maintenance encompasses a wide variety of tasks that ensure a fitness center functions efficiently. One of the primary goals of maintenance is to create an optimal, motivating environment that both maintains membership and attracts prospective clients. This optimal environment can easily be maintained by following a scheduled maintenance program that takes into effect three of the senses that create the member experience: sight, sound and smell.
My next three columns will focus on the role of facility maintenance in creating the optimal workout experience with these senses in mind. In this first of the series, I will study the sense of smell and how it relates to the environment within the fitness center.
Sense of smell
There has been a great deal of research on the effects of smell and scents in terms of eliciting emotional reactions. Aromatherapy has recently emerged in many settings, lending further credence to the topic.While the effectiveness of scents to trigger certain emotions can be debated within the scientific community, it is obvious that no one likes to be in a closed space with an unpleasant odor.
A number of factors within fitness centers can easily create unpleasant odors. Fitness centers are closed environments that lock in heat produced by members and equipment. Exercise within that environment leads to both heat and sweat production, which, in turn, develops into odor accumulation within this closed system — and a vicious cycle develops. The goal of facility maintenance is to control these effects with climate control and scheduled cleanings.
Climate is controlled within the facility mainly with the HVAC system. This system can be directly linked to odors due to temperature and air circulation. Obviously, a warmer fitness center will lead to increased sweat production among members. Poor air circulation will turn to stale air, which contains the odor generated from the sweat production. A proper HVAC system can control these byproducts by 1) maintaining an optimal temperature within the facility and 2) circulating the air and pumping fresh air into the facility.
Facility maintenance can ensure a proper workout environment by following the American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines of a 68 to 72 degree air temperature, with 60 percent or less humidity and eight to 12 air circulations. This can be coupled with the use of ceiling fans, which help to circulate the air. In addition, air filters should be regularly changed, and all vents should be cleaned to keep the system functioning at an optimal level.
In addition to maintaining the HVAC system, make sure you maintain a clean facility. Odors within the facility are a direct result of poor cleaning. Fitness centers that have staff members spot clean throughout the day, especially in problem areas such as the cardiovascular area and locker rooms, will ensure that odor production is kept to a minimum. In addition, nightly heavy cleaning once the facility is empty will help to prevent any buildup in areas that are hard to reach during spot cleaning. Special attention should be given to areas that can be a breeding ground for odorcausing bacteria, such as carpeting. By combining preventive measures with proper mat placement and scheduled deep cleaning, your facility can remain clean and free of odor.
Despite the diligent execution of even the most extensive preventive programs, however, there may be certain situations that produce short-term odors. These may be masked with pleasant scents such as flowers and air fresheners, or with the use of baking soda.
Although controlling odors within the fitness center is somewhat straightforward, it is often an area that is overlooked by many maintenance personnel. Including these tasks into the scheduled maintenance program will keep the odors to a minimum, and create a pleasing environment for your members.
Facility of the Week
Ithaca College Athletics and Events Center