Most facilities have an established replacement plan for cardio and strength equipment based on wear and tear.
For example, Jeremy Battjes, the assistant vice-chancellor and executive director of University Recreation at the University of Arkansas, said as a rule of thumb when planning, his team anticipates replacing cardio equipment every three to four years and strength equipment every six years.
There are also several variables his team considers when the replacement window comes up:
It’s important to have a solid plan for replacing equipment. However, it’s just as important to have plans for extending the life of equipment. This will reduce the frequency of replacement and save money. Battjes emphasized extending the life of equipment starts with understanding what your members really want out of it.
“Understanding usage patterns of your members allows you to move the least used treadmill space to the most used space, lengthening the life of your equipment,” said Battjes. “Most importantly, know what your members want out of the equipment. I observe so many users get on a piece of equipment and press ‘Go,’ unaware or not needing the training programs or other screen interaction opportunities, which typically increases the price of equipment.”
At Plymouth State University, Drew Guay, the director of Campus Recreation, also emphasizes the need to involve students in equipment decision making. “In many situations, I’ve had patrons and student employees invited to meetings with different vendors where they can learn more about the process that goes into looking to purchase equipment. It’s a tremendous student development opportunity,” he said. “Student feedback and interest has played a big role in a lot of our major purchases.”
As such, Guay elaborated working with vendors who are willing to talk to students goes a long way. “Thankfully, the work we do with our students has got them on our side as incredible advocates for campus recreation, which has given us more freedom to make bigger purchases,” said Guay. “When it’s all about the students, we can make pretty amazing things happen.”
Another way to ensure the buying and replacing process is more about the students is to see the fitness floor from their perspective. A fitness floor can feel intimidating to walk out on. As such, you may be losing users before they get started. This is why the user experience is critical to Battjes’ team when evaluating equipment. They evaluate not only from a budget perspective but also from the patron’s willingness to use the equipment and features.
“We solicit and collect feedback on user experiences based on emails we receive, one-on-one interactions and targeted feedback,” said Battjes. “That information is used to inform decisions when purchasing equipment, and it also helps with cost containment. I’d suggest developing a thorough maintenance plan. Know your diagnostics and rotate equipment accordingly. And understand what your members really want out of a piece of equipment.”