Sometimes the simple stuff is not so simple. Gym equipment is like that. Strength machines and treadmills – weights and rubber decking, right? What can go wrong?
Well, in fact, a lot. As any veteran gym owner knows, cables snap and treadmills smoke. Never a good scene. Yet, avoiding such mini disasters is as simple as investing in a preventative maintenance service plan for your commercial gym equipment.
To better understand this concept, we turned to Dave Pirri, owner of Fit Service, a New York-based gym equipment sales and service company established in 2004. We asked him to discuss preventative maintenance. Pirri is an expert in mechanical and electrical repairs, with a background spanning construction, VCR-store ownership and equipment maintenance for corporations.
Why is preventative maintenance important?
Well-maintained equipment lasts longer and runs longer without problems. Equipment that is inspected regularly and supported before problems occur, has a better chance of lasting the life of the gym or its full-estimated lifespan. It’s analogous to owning a car. Regularly scheduled maintenance keeps small issues from blooming into full-blown, expensive nuisances. Cost savings aside, maintained equipment is safer and, frequently, more sanitary.
What makes gym equipment so complicated?
Every piece of cardio equipment includes electrical circuit boards, drive motors, and moving parts made of degradable materials. Each unit is used by hundreds or thousands of people — all of different weights and capabilities. Additionally, frames are welded, steel parts rotate, and the machines’ stability is dependent on maintaining absolute level surfaces. This intricate dance easily unravels with neglect or improper repairs.
For example, if during routine maintenance an employee accidentally shifts a treadmill by a couple of inches, and the ground is uneven, they could move the walk belt. If it is not tensioned properly, even a tiny adjustment results in unexpected friction. Eventually, the same belt may buckle under a heavy-footed runner.
Conversely, strength equipment can suffer from a scraped cable that is indistinguishable to the average handy-person. Yet, placed back on a machine, a compromised cable can easily snap. If unnecessary damage and scary injuries are not enough to convince you, consider the cost of prematurely broken parts due to unbalanced machines.
What can a preventative maintenance program offer me?
A good company will:
- Inspect electrical and mechanical equipment for dirty, loose, worn, cracked, or damaged parts.
- Affordably repair, rebuild or replace expensive parts, such as drive motors and electronic circuit boards.
- Replace torn and worn pads.
- Clean, vacuum, and sanitize equipment to reduce corrosion.
- Reset back-end software and respond to error messages.
- Check welding, pins, bolts, and more for wear.
- Use the correct lubricant for each machine.
- Replace cables and, at times, build them onsite.
Why shouldn’t I maintain my own fitness equipment?
Pirri is a do-it-yourself guy, too. That temperament is how he got into this business. But the truth is, no one knows everything.
- You don’t know what you don’t know. You might be missing something big that can result in a serious injury.
- The equipment is sophisticated. Every computer board has both a front-end display and back-end code. This underlayer of information is where the diagnostic menu lies. A factory-authorized technician will access this tool to test equipment piece by piece.
- Incorrect maintenance can wear on motors and mechanical parts. For example, underneath each rubber treadmill is a polycotton blend of fabric that holds lubricant. If the fabric pills — even if the equipment is well-oiled — the worn-out fabric creates friction, which eventually degrades the motor.
Committing to servicing equipment on a schedule results in:
- Lower costs overall
- Less down equipment
- Safer environment
- Sanitized equipment
How often should I have my equipment serviced?
The answer resides in how often the product is used. A reasonable rule of thumb is one service every 1,000 hours of usage. Using that number, an owner can work with a preventative maintenance company to design an effective schedule. Usually, treadmills, bikes and ellipticals need the most attention, and strength equipment runs on a twice-yearly rotation.
How do I find a great preventative maintenance service company for my gym equipment?
The easiest way is to call an equipment manufacturer for their list of authorized repair companies. These firms are usually certified to work on multiple brands of gym equipment.
After that, consider their business model.
Look for a company that will keep the equipment in good condition, not just swoop in twice a year and service everything at once. Problems with equipment creep up. Like threads on a sweater, they unravel over time. By addressing maintenance frequently, prospective problems are spotted early.
Then, pick a service plan to fit your unique needs.
Many service firms offer a single service plan for every type of gym. Pirri recommends hiring a company that customizes its service plan to your gym’s unique rhythm.
Finally, negotiate a flexible agreement.
The best service plans offer a flat fee for a specific number of visits. However, they should not tie you into a contract or ask for money upfront.
Consider PM an investment in your business.
In many ways, hiring a firm to conduct preventative maintenance is an investment in your club’s success. The presence of a skilled maintenance guy proves to members, employees, and insurance providers that you care about the quality, safety, and condition of the equipment. In the end, PM may cost a bit more up front, but the results will set you far ahead of competitors.
Thanks for reading our blog! If you found this interesting and would like to talk about your successes and challenges, we’d love to hear from you. We’re a gym management software company designing the best, easiest-to-use member management tools in the business. Contact us at 1-855-FOR-GYMS and speak to our awesome sales guy Anthony. He can hook you up with our podcast “The Gym Owners Podcast,” where we discuss what it takes to run a successful fitness center. Thanks for reading our blog and see you next week!