As a gym owner, you work hard to devise engaging fitness programs, keep a qualified rotation of trainers on staff, and offer a variety of equipment for your customers to enjoy. But there is one often-overlooked aspect of maximizing your client retention and member satisfaction: optimizing the building itself.
Your physical building space is the face of your business. Before your clients walk up to the front desk and greet the first employee they see, they will make a snap judgement about your gym based on what they see around them. Consider the environment and ambiance of your gym, and try to look at it from the perspective of someone who has never seen your facility before. Sure, you know that stain on the carpeting is just a spilled protein drink that has already been steam-cleaned and sterilized. But will your customers know that?
Loyal clientele will be able to look past the quirks and flaws in their favorite facility and simply enjoy the amazing classes and top-notch equipment you provide. If you seem to be struggling to attract new potential members, however, it might be worth taking a look at the face you’re presenting to the public.
You are hopefully well-acquainted already with standard practices for keeping gym equipment sterilized and sanitized. Just in case you have forgotten something, however, keep the following in mind.
Though your staff should wipe down each bench, padded area, and touch point with sanitizing chemicals as part of every opening or closing checklist, make sure your clients also have access to convenient cleaning products. Setting out spray bottles of cleaning products along with paper towels in visible areas encourages your members to wipe down equipment after use. Between-use cleaning minimizes the transition of germs and fungal infections that thrive in areas where sweat is left behind by the equipment’s previous user.
Especially encourage clients to clean exercise mats, including ab and yoga mats, in addition to benches and barbell pads. Any weight belts or other rental equipment your gym offers will require frequent and thorough cleaning as well. Porous surfaces such as these tend to absorb moisture and harbor germs and fungi more readily than hard flooring and metal bar grips.
While your cleaning routine might be strict when it comes to sanitizing equipment, drinking fountains, and other high-use areas, don’t forget the less obvious things. Locker doors, shower curtains and walls, and carpeted areas that may absorb sweat droplets or spilled drinks often get left behind in cleaning protocols, even though they are high-traffic areas that get touched frequently by many people. You may want to power wash the sidewalk and exterior walls of your building to give your business a clean, fresh facelift. Also, be sure to replace any stained benches or mats that look ugly and unclean even if they get sanitized on a regular basis.
The overall design and floor plan of your building may not be under your control, but you can optimize your equipment layout to maximize the attractive and convenient use of space. Even if your gym is small, resist the temptation to crowd in as much equipment as will fit into the area.
A clear and clutter-free space is not only more attractive and convenient, it’s also safer for everyone. Clients should not have to trip over free weight racks and dodge lifters heaving around barbells to get to the treadmill section, for example. Eliminate extraneous unused equipment that could become trip hazards or block exit points and err on the side of safety.
The final consideration for your equipment organization comes down to the intuitive use of workout sections. What is feasible for your gym will vary, but in an ideal situation, you can cater to the different needs of each client in a way that is convenient and feels natural to them.
Treadmills, ellipticals, and other cardio machines can be kept in a separate area so users don’t feel crowded or intimidated by powerlifters grunting and moving barbells nearby. Likewise, professional, hardcore lifters would probably appreciate a dedicated free weight section with safety benches and racks, so they don’t have to share weight plates with resistance machines or wait endlessly for a spotter.
Your maintenance protocol likely ranges from glaringly apparent things like keeping all toilets and water fountains in working order to the much less obvious: repairing dented lockers, replacing flickering or dim yellowed lights, and performing frequent equipment safety inspections.
But consider how much more you could optimize when it comes to your maintenance routine.
Increase your pool’s operational season by keeping chemical balance, regular cleaning, and things like tile maintenance and repair on a tight schedule. Maintain fast and convenient computer systems with optimized software that doesn’t inconvenience clients with sluggish processing times. Repair baseboards that become chipped from dropped weights, replace mats that begin to look worn, and tackle any other small or seemingly insignificant task that keeps getting put off because it doesn’t seem important enough.
View your gym with fresh eyes
Every rusty bolt on a weight machine sparks a tiny bit of uneasiness in a client who may wonder what else has fallen into disrepair and might prove unsafe with too much use. Each stain on a weight belt makes the user wonder exactly what caused that stain and if the belt has been cleaned lately. Yellow, flickering lights might lend an old-school, hardcore gym ambiance, but most users will be turned away by the subtle message that other maintenance issues might have fallen by the wayside, too.
Though you may become complacent with the tiny flaws and hiccups that give your gym so much character, your customers don’t have the same innate love for the place that you do. Prioritizing the little "insignificant" things that you barely notice shows your clients that you are dedicated to their safety and health and that you care about providing a convenient, organized, and intuitive experience they will enjoy.
Keep your employees in high gear when it comes to reporting and fixing even the smallest of problems, and encourage your members to drop tips and suggestions about any issues they spot as they work out. By staying on top of cleaning, organization, and maintenance issues, you will be keeping your gym safe and profitable in the long run.