// Contemplate renovate rejuvenate - thinking for tomorrow not just today

by Kerry Sharp

At some poin t in our fitness facility management careers we are all guilty of thinking for today and not for tomorrow. In our haste to make a
difference and to create the WOW factor we all strive for, we often make physical changes to our facilities with little thought to the overall operation or future of our business.

When it comes to renovating, refurbishing or ‘refreshing’ your club, or an area of your club, it is crucial to have a clear vision of what it is you want to provide, what you currently offer and where you want to be. Business fitness and sustainability is the name of the game in the long term, just as fitness and sustainability is important to the health and wellbeing of our members.

Impulse purchases cost!

A quick lick of paint and a few flower pots placed here and there really isn’t going to have much of an effect on your competitor’s market share, and neither will three new treadmills if the current floor plan limits access or reduces an already restricted training area.

Failure to properly assess exactly what you want to achieve from a purchase or renovation may be the catalyst that makes your competitors look just that bit more attractive to your members or prospects. Members need to see change happening. They need to know where their membership dollar is going, and what plans you have for improving their fitness journey into the future.

Like pieces of a never-ending jigsaw puzzle, every dollar that you invest must contribute towards the big picture of where your business is ultimately going. The way in which your facility functions on a daily basis must factor in its ongoing growth; that’s to say, how comfortable a member is in the environment you create, the selection and diversity of your products, the floor layout, the choice of cardio mix and the ease of access to your services all contribute to the overall member experience.

Every spend must have a purpose

Many factors come into play when deciding which new equipment to purchase or whether to make a renovation to your facility. Knowing well in advance exactly what it is you want to achieve is important, and knowing what it will mean to your business is essential. Think it through before you commit.

Talking to fellow industry professionals and visiting other clubs will provide valuable insight into what to do, or what not to do, when redesigning and making changes.

Consider aspects such as:

• Space efficiency
• Equipment access
• Training zones
• Ambience
• Equipment mix and its relevance to your target market.

Ultimately, your main goal is to achieve more happy members who stay longer and who tell their friends about the excellent service you provide.

Renovating checklist

If you are considering renovating, take the time to look at the existing facilities as a whole and not just room by room.
Enlist the assistance of a consultant or architect, and use their ability to creatively maximise the use of spaces, todevelop the existing structure into the facility you want it to be, providing more space and creating training zones and stretching areas, for example.

Once a plan has been agreed upon, establish your budget and either go ahead with all the changes at once, or if finances dictate, have a staged approach to the renovation. Both options have operational stages to work through, requiring a concentrated planning process.

The following factors should enter into the planning process:

• Amenity access
• Equipment access and positioning
• Stretching and training zones
• Studio location and access
• Wet areas
• Furnishings (member comfort, fabric and design).

Floor layout checklist

If you haven’t already got a copy of your floor plan, stop now and make sure you have one before you check the following:

• Is there a clear pathway from the front door to amenities to group exercise studios?
• Is there enough space between equipment?
• Can members of all abilities and ages access equipment easily?
• Do stretching areas block access pathways?
• Do you have enough space in front of your group fitness studios to allow members to mill prior to classes?
• Policing/security. Do you need to restrict access to some areas?
• Business operations – security, access and location
• Sales – location and prospective members comfort, they should be able to view the action but not feel they are being closeted away
• Social areas – areas for members to sit and take a rest (other than sitting on equipment)
• Beverage/cafés – this is a whole section of its own, members who socialise stay loyal to their group and their facility
• Amenities – look at paper dispensers, shower screens, ventilation, mirrors, hairdryers, ironing boards, lockers, seating and fabric used
• Change areas and privacy stalls.

To replace or not to replace?

Take the time to look at the whole floor mix before deciding on what should be replaced, or what new equipment should be introduced. We are all governed by budget restraints but it is often possible to inject vitality and interest into you facility by simply changing the floor layout and cardio mix.

Before you do anything, ask yourself these questions:

• Is all equipment being used equally or is some used considerably more than others? Is this due to access issues or positioning, or is it programming-related? Remember that equipment positioning makes a huge difference and can factor into member comfort, affecting
retention and your bottom line.

• Does any of the cardio equipment in your facility face the strength area? If so, will your female or older members feel intimidated when they use certain pieces of equipment?

Top tips for a mini makeover

• Speak to your equipment supplier and ask them to design a few variations of floor layouts for your weights and cardio areas. These can be done to scale and a plan provided for you to consider before you move anything.
• New and larger spaces can often be created by moving existing flooring around and rearranging equipment to open up the gym floor. If you have a restricted budget, look at changing the vinyl and powder coating older pieces to give them a facelift.
• Develop a plan with your supplier so that equipment is constantly evolving, offering diversity based on member preference. Be sure to do this in gradual stages with the cardio equipment.

• Ask for a trial piece of equipment from time to time and gauge the reactions of members to any new piece of apparatus.

There are many factors to be taken into consideration before making a purchase or renovating your premises – think ahead to the needs of tomorrow, not just today. Well planned and monitored changes can create positive word of mouth promotion, generating new member interest, and most importantly, helping to retain existing members.


Kerry Sharp
Named Fitness Australia’s Fitness Professional of the Year in 2007, Kerry is an industry consultant and the managing director of Sharp
Fitness Solutions Pty Ltd. With over 26 years fitness industry experience, including 17 years in health club and facility management, Kerry’s expertise covers all aspects of the industry. For more information, call 0409 155485 or e-mail confitks@yahoo.com.au