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Don't Forget the Group Exercise Studio

Dust, scattered fitness accessories and malfunctioning microphones can devalue this popular area in your facility.

Recently, I was teaching a group strength class. Toward the end of the class, I dimmed the lights for ambience and started core exercises, when a ruckus broke the mood. I went to the back of the room to see what was going on. One of the participants said she thought she saw a mouse scurry across the floor! Shocked, but not wanting to make a big deal of it, I looked around for the intruder. Right there in the corner was the culprit: a dust bunny as big as a mouse drifting back and forth with the air circulation. I was relieved that it was not a rodent, but I realized that this facility had another issue: group exercise room disregard.

Studies have shown that your group exercise population is one of the most dedicated groups in your facility. Knowing that, you should make a commitment to them to properly maintain the space they treasure so much.

The microphone

The microphone is the connection between instructors and members. Is your connection clear? Microphones can be the greatest asset or biggest challenge for an instructor and class. A bad connection or worn wire can cause static and major distortion. Put a fresh battery in the microphone and test it. Turn the microphone on and up while all of the other audio inputs on your stereo are turned down. Wiggle the connection point from the headset to the transmitter, and move the wire up and down. Move the boom (the piece that holds the microphone head in front of the mouth) around. If you hear any crackling at any point during this assessment, you have found a problem. Also, test the microphone itself by speaking into it. A common misconception is to test microphones by blowing into them. The reason you put a wind screen on them is to minimize that blowing sound, so it makes no sense to test it that way.

Everyone has a different tone to their voice. Instructors may need to be taught how to adjust the microphone's low, mid and high ranges to best fit their voice (a person with a higher voice will need more bass, and the opposite for lower voices).

Floor maintenance

The floor is the foundation of your group exercise program. Daily dust mopping is a must for hardwood group exercise floors. If you are running more than five classes a day in your studio and you have a high participation rate, you may need to double your dusting efforts. Take time every week to move all of your group exercise accessories (tubes, bands, balls, BOSUs, etc.) away from the walls and dust. Find out what kind of floor you have and contact the manufacturer for recommendations on how to care for it. You may be surprised to find that some of your natural floor-care inclinations are dead wrong, and some products do more harm than good.

Carpeted group exercise floors also need special care. You'll need to find out if steam cleaning is an option. If so, determine what kind of cleanser can be used, along with what type of machine. How often can the floor be cleaned? If steam cleaning is not an option, what does the manufacturer recommend when it comes to getting sweat and stains out of the carpet?

Accessory storage

Nothing is more frustrating to a member than going to get an accessory for class and finding a pile of exercise tubes that looks like last night's tri-color pasta dinner. Invest in organizational tools to make it easy for instructors and members to keep order in the group exercise room. If your budget is low, go to the local hardware store and buy some PVC pipe, a hack saw and some PVC pipe glue. Make your own ball and band racks. It's easy, cheap and may even be a fun team-building activity.

Even though your group exercise room may be set aside behind a closed door, remember the kind of impact these classes have on your members. They have their favorite spot and their favorite ball. Be sure to make their experience great by ensuring that their special place is welcoming, well kept and what they expect.

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