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Keeping Your Exercise Areas Clean and Organized

Go beyond the basics to keep your facility's fitness areas clean and safe.

The other day I was in the gym and I saw a member adjusting the Olympic free weight bench. He pulled one side back a little, laid down on the bench, popped back up again and gave the end of the bench a little kick. Back down on the bench he went, grasping the bar with a look of satisfaction. Curious, I stepped behind the bench and offered him a spot. After he finished his set, I introduced myself and asked him what he was doing just before his set. He explained that he was turning the bench so that when he was on it, the bar would line up perfectly with the gridlines of the ceiling tiles. Talk about detail! Can you imagine a fitness facility where all of the employees looked at everything with this mindset? Your facility would be immaculate (and perfectly aligned with the ceiling grids).

With this member in mind, I decided it was time to take a closer look at the fitness floor.

Beyond the basics

Everyone knows the basics: Re-rack the weights, put the dumbbells away, wipe down the equipment, pick up trash, etc. But there's more to maintaining the fitness floor.

Re-rack weights. How many times have you come across a weight tree with seven 45-pound plates stacked on top of a 2.5-pound plate? Disorganized weights are a nuisance to members, as well as an eyesore. Put labels on your weight trees to guide members, guests and employees to the best spot for each plate. You can also have your fitness personnel help members load and unload plates (this is great for customer service) and keep everything organized. And, at least once per day, have a staff member inspect the weight area and put weights back in their proper place.

Store dumbbells correctly. Keep your dumbbells in order and stored correctly. Check the rack labels. If they're illegible, replace them. If you don't have them, get some.

Check equipment pads. Check the pads on all of your strength equipment on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Look for cracks and tears. Replace or reupholster pad covers that are in poor condition. Equipment pads that have "pressure points" tend to wear thin (such as where the elbows go on the biceps curl, and where the lower shin hits on the leg extension). These pads should be checked with more than a quick glance - they may look fine but feel awful. While you're checking pad condition and aesthetics, give the pad a jiggle. Tighten bolts as needed.

Maintain guide rods. Keep guide rods clean and lubricated on all machines. Every equipment manufacturer provides different recommendations on how to do this and what to use. The common thread is that they all recommend it be done on a regular basis to prevent buildup in the bushings, which will affect the performance and life of the machine.

Stock pins and plates. Find or replace missing pins and add-on plates. It's annoying when members can't find a weight stack pin, especially when they're using a machine, leave for a minute to get a drink of water, then come back to find their pin was swiped. This is a controllable problem. Lanyards work great to keep weight stack pins in place. Keep a supply of pins handy, as well.

Many equipment manufacturers have come up with great ways to easily add incremental weights to machines; when you're ready to buy new equipment, you can take advantage of these new features. Until then, keep those add-on plates readily accessible for the machines that take them. Lanyards work for these as well, although your best bet may be to keep extra stocked. Your members rely on these to keep their programs moving forward.

Attention to detail

This may all sound familiar, but it is worth repeating. Also, the best reminder of the importance of keeping your fitness center clean, organized and in working order is to use the facility yourself. See things through your members' eyes. Talk to them; you will not only learn a lot about them, you'll learn about the things that are most important to them.
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