In August of this year, the University of New Hampshire will be opening a new expansion to their campus recreation center. And with new space, comes new equipment. When deciding how to outfit the new space in the facility, UNH invited six equipment vendors to come to the university and bring their three favorite, or best-selling, pieces of equipment for a Fitness Demo Day.
Beth Goldenberg, the coordinator of sport clubs at UNH, explained between the six vendors, there was about 20 pieces of equipment set up on the basketball court. Students were then invited to the facility to try out the various equipment pieces, and were asked to fill out an assessment at the end of their visit.
“Before they left, they circled their three favorite pieces of equipment and then said why it was their favorite piece of equipment,” said Goldenberg. “We had another area for them to write what they would like to see in our new building, what we’re currently missing – whether that was squat racks, cardio pieces of equipment. We just wanted to get their feedback and make them feel like their opinion matters when we make decisions for our new building.”
Throughout the day, Goldenberg estimated they had about 1,500 students come through the basketball court, including students participating in sport clubs and students from a risk management class, which also participated in a focus group after trying out the equipment.
The UNH got the idea from the University of Michigan, who hosted a similar fitness demo. But instead of a day, UM’s fitness demo lasted from November 2, 2015 to February 2016. According to Goldenberg, UM suggested UNH have a day or two event instead of a couple months.
As for bringing in six competing equipment companies into one university, Goldenberg said it wasn’t as awkward as she expected. “They’re so used to it. I mean, that’s their job. They go to all these different fitness conferences so they know each other well. So just kind of being transparent with them saying ‘We’re looking at all your equipment. We know you’re each other’s competitors. Just bring the best thing that you have,’” explained Goldenberg. She was also transparent in the fact that the rec center did not plan to go with just one company, but get the equipment needed based off the students assessments.
In order to get the word about Demo Day, the department sent out emails to all of the student organizations on campus, put up fliers, posted on social media and they also relied on word of mouth.
“We had a few of our students stand outside the rec center and let people know, ‘Hey, in two days, we’re going to have fitness demo day. It’s going to be a lot of fun, come stop by.’ So that’s pretty much how we marketed it,” said Goldenberg.
Despite all the work that was put into the fitness demo day, Goldenberg said it was worth it in the end to get students excited about the expansion and their input in the equipment. “You might think students want something, but they’re going to know best what they want and this facility is about them,” said Goldenberg.