5 Tips to Make Your Facility Fit

facility fit

Creating SMART goals and lasting behavior change isn’t just for you or your members; implementing goals for your fitness facility are essential building blocks to a healthy long lifespan. Because preventative maintenance and equipment replacement plans can often become an afterthought, it is essential you design plans built on best practices to avoid those headaches later. To help you dial in, here are five tips to keeping a fit facility at the top of your priority list.

1. Make Your Fitness Facility a Priority

I want to preface this by saying that I firmly believe time-management doesn’t exist. Last time I checked we all have the same 24 hours in a day; it’s not about time-management, it’s about priority management. The next time you catch yourself beginning a sentence saying “I don’t have time for…” think about it as “___ is not a priority to me at this moment.” Telling someone they aren’t a priority to you is scary, but if you want to be present in the space you are in with the people you are around, then getting your priorities straight is a first step. I compare our fitness and recreation facilities to our homes or even our bodies; it’s what we live in. You have to make it a priority to take care of your home, your body and your fitness facility. When you neglect your body, you know exactly how you feel; your fitness facility feels the same way.

Pro Tip: Making your fitness facility a priority is a department wide effort. If you are having trouble clarifying priorities as a department, try nominal group technique (NGT).

2. Invest in Preventative Maintenance

Regular oil changes and tire rotations are important for your car to perform the way it is designed; your fitness equipment and facility need preventative maintenance (PM) too. Manufacturers provide their recommended PM plans and schedules for your equipment when you purchase it. Setting aside funds and personnel time to complete your regularly scheduled PM can lengthen the life cycle for your equipment (or at least help you stick to your equipment replacement plan).

Pro Tip: Creating a PM plan doesn’t have to be cumbersome or very time consuming; most are created for you and you just set the dates so it works for you and your organization.

3. Establish Your Equipment Replacement Plan

In my experience, the equipment replacement plan is one of the most neglected or misused budget line in a department. Money set aside – if any for equipment replacement – will often be the first to be used as the rainy-day fund for expenses, such as computers or technology, unplanned repairs, or other items that are deemed more important at the time. This is where the vicious cycle begins and it’s executed so many years in a row you are now having to find more money than originally planned to replace 40, 50 or even 60 percent of the equipment in your facility in one year because it was either not cared for (see Tip No. 2) or it wasn’t in a replacement cycle. Once again this doesn’t have to be a cumbersome task; use recommendations from manufacturers along with your budget parameters and adjust as needed.

Pro Tips: 1. ACSM Standards and Guidelines recommend allocating 1.3 to 4.7 percent of your annual revenue (i.e. in the campus rec world, your total budget) for the reinvestment of your equipment. 2a. You should check with university guidelines to see if trading equipment is an option as this lowers the money spent on your replacement. 2b. If you have taken care of your equipment (see Tip No. 2) and have it tracked, then you might even get more money on your trade.

4. Put Your Facility on an Exam Schedule

Just as students have exams, so should fitness facilities. Design a test built on industry guidelines and standards so you and your team can give this exam on a quarterly or bi-monthly basis. Items on your test may be: Does your circulation routes have 36 inches across? Do you have the recommended clear floor space of 30 inches by 48 inches by your equipment (i.e. selectorized weight equipment or side entry cardio)? Is the air temperature in your physical activity spaces maintained between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 22 degrees Celsius)? Give your facility a grade and track your performance.

Pro Tip: Have a quick reference guide of industry standards and guidelines nearby. Remember standards are non-negotiable and guidelines are best practices.

5. Build Systems for Your Success

In this day and age, systems are essential for success. You should have clear protocols in place for your department. For example, we do not use email as a way to communicate internally within my team. We utilize free messaging platforms – such as Slack and Voxer – and project management programs – such as Trello – to work together cohesively to reach our goals. Establish a standard operational procedure for keeping your facility fit. Begin with who, what, when, where, why and then go from there. Many systems are out there for implementation, so find what works best for your department and build it from there.

Pro Tip: Work your systems into your new hire training as well as any annual trainings you may have; consistency is key. Remember the world is your oyster; get creative and have fun.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, I get it; don’t panic. As a professional and organization, you need to tackle what’s most important at this time. Start with a self-assessment of yourself, your facility and your organization before creating a plan. Find something you can implement, can be assessed and is realistic. You will always need to adjust these plans as you move forward. Just remember: your fitness facility is just like your body, car and home, so take care of it.

Steven Trotter, MS, is a consultant, continuing education provider, adjunct faculty member in health and fitness science, and principal for Globetrotter Wellness Solutions. He also serves as the associate director for wellness and fitness at East Carolina University. His expertise is rooted in university rec programs with a repertoire in leadership and organizational development, fitness facility design and management, behavior change, and program management. Steven is a 2017 IDEA Program Director of the Year finalist and presents at numerous conferences across North America each year. He is a subject matter expert and blogger for the American Council on Exercise and previously served a 3.5-year term on the industry advisory panel. Steven has a master of science in health in physical education from Virginia Tech and bachelor of science in exercise science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.


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