Top-Five Tips from the Trenches

The best advice often comes from the trenches. Six fitness facility professionals give their top advice for keeping your facility spotless.

Tip 1: Staff is important

Make your staff members understand that they are your most important asset when it comes to maintenance. "We instill the value of cleanliness in our team members," says Lisa Lee, project manager at Club One Inc., San Francisco, Calif. The importance of cleanliness is incorporated into new employee orientations, "so all new employees are trained on the importance of cleanliness from day one." In addition, all staff members are expected to participate actively to keep the facility clean. One way to ensure that staff members are actively involved in the cleaning process is to have them walk the fitness floor hourly or more, which Cinzia Bianchi, marketing director at Healthworks Fitness Centers, Boston, Mass., says is required at her facility. Staff members must "turn off individual TVs, pick up magazines ..., wipe down ... equipment, put weights and training equipment in its appropriate storage area, etc.," says Bianchi. One trained housekeeping staff member is also on duty at Healthworks at all times; during primetime hours, two trained members are on duty. "Our secret to achieving ... cleanliness is our staff 's commitment to the mission," says Bianchi. It's all about motivating your staff. Says Jim Hepburn, maintenance director for MedFit Partners at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center of the Washington Hospital, Washington, Pa., "Remind them that their work plays an important role in keeping members coming back to the facility."

Tip 2: Create a checklist

Create a checklist detailing what needs to be done during the day. "We utilize a master operations evaluation that incorporates all of our cleanliness standards and requirements," Lee says. "This very detailed checklist includes everything from making sure the glass on the front doors is clean, to ensuring the chrome on the bathroom sinks is clean and polished." The checklist is then evaluated by club management, and officially evaluated by a regional management team to ensure that all clubs maintain the same high standards. Sharon Griz, owner/operator of World Gym Express, Fairfax, Va., uses a Shift Housekeeping Report. "Each shift is responsible for checking, signing and putting it in my inbox," says Griz.

Tip 3: Clean every day

Ensure that the facility is thoroughly cleaned each day. "We clean our equipment in the mornings and the evenings ... with buckets, towels and cleaning solution," says LeeAnne Davison, senior coordinator of health and wellness at Verizon Wireless, Cranberry Township, Pa. And, at Verizon Wireless headquarters, Basking Ridge, N.J., Health and Wellness Coordinator Tanya Fleszar says their "equipment is wiped down each night after closing to be ready to go for the next day." Fleszar also suggests having a cleaning staff on-site. "Our cleaning staff comes in after the morning, afternoon and evening crowds to clean the locker rooms/bathrooms, empty garbage, replace toiletries, vacuum, etc." But, with all that cleaning, be careful that your facility does not smell too "deodorized." Hepburn advises against using deodorizer on a daily basis. "To me, that feels like you're hiding a problem," he explains. "Instead, use scrubbers to [clean] your floors regularly, and, for high-traffic areas, hire a company to come in quarterly to steam vacuum and apply mildew and Scotchgard protection to the carpet. That way, you avoid the 'locker room smell.'"

Tip 4: Don't forget the fitness equipment

Keep fitness equipment as sweat and dust-free as possible. Keeping the equipment dust-free helps "prevent short-circuiting the motor boards," says Hepburn. While staff should regularly wipe down equipment, members can be enlisted to help in this process. Davison says that her facility provides Gym Wipes to members. "We have Gym Wipes, as well as paper towel dispensers and spray bottles, conveniently placed to encourage members to do their part to help keep their fitness center clean." Both Davison's and Fleszar's facilities also have signs posted to encourage members to do their part. "Signs are posted which read, 'Please wipe down equipment after each use' in all areas of the fitness center," says Fleszar. In addition, Fleszar says that her fitness center provides new members with a towel after their initial fitness assessment, and they are encouraged to carry it with them while working out.

Tip 5: Pay attention to locker rooms

Pay special attention to locker rooms and wet areas. At Healthworks, Bianchi says that the primary focus is the locker rooms and wet areas, where cleaning staff spend about 75 percent of their time. "Make taking care of the lock rooms a priority, especially during peak days and times," says Hepburn. "Every hour, check the toilet paper, check the urinals, clean and disinfect the sinks, etc." Hepburn also recommends paying close attention to pool maintenance because the "water presents so many challenges." This means having someone knowledgeable test pool chemistry to minimize the risk of an imbalance, keeping grates cleaned, sweeping the bottom of the pool and having lifeguards walk the perimeter of the pool every 45 minutes to check to see if anything is out of order.

It's all about service

And last but not least, "Focus on customer service and attention to detail," Hepburn says. "Everything else will fall into place."
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