CONTENT BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Core Health and Fitness LLC
Cardio decks. Every facility has at least one. When done right, a well-planned cardio deck can be the difference between a successful fitness facility and one that just wants to be successful.
Some have multiple cardio areas because the machines are just that popular. Although no steadfast formula exists to setting up the perfect cardio area, some general rules apply as do some innovative ways to differentiate from the fitness facility down the street.
Following are five tips to follow:
1. Develop a plan. Whether you are setting up a cardio deck in a new facility or refreshing an existing cardio area with new equipment, the first step is to create the plan. First, a facility owner needs to evaluate the marketplace to understand what products are available. Features, warranties, pricing and modalities differ between manufacturers. The best way to understand which products will work is to try them out because new equipment is coming out all the time.
Go to the industry trade shows to jump on new equipment and break a sweat. Do you love it? Does it feel sturdy? Did it target the muscles you expected? Maybe your members will enjoy it, too.
Monitor current club traffic during peak times if your project is a refresh of a current cardio area. Do some products get more use than others? Are there products getting no use despite lines at other equipment? Use these observations to guide your purchase.
2. Determine what you need. Review your asset management data prior to making major decisions. Is one brand of treadmill logging more miles than others? Is one elliptical down for service frequently? Does it take one manufacturer longer to respond or resolve a quality issue than others? Answers to these questions can help steer your purchase decisions.
Once you have an idea about the type of equipment your facility needs, bring in multiple manufacturers to bid on your project to get the best possible price and warranty for your needs. Whether you want to go with one manufacturer for a consistent look or a mix of manufacturers to give members choices, do your due diligence to know you are placing the appropriate mix of products to meet member demand at a price and warranty fitting your business plan.
3. Plan the area. Make sure you have an accurate floor plan that includes all proposed equipment. Get architectural drawings that include wiring considerations and adhere to all fire and Americans with Disability Act spacing regulations. Your equipment sales rep should offer to provide you a layout with their proposed equipment included.
Always leave room. Resist the temptation to make the entire purchase at one time. Instead, watch which new products the members respond to most. Was there always a line at a newer modality product? Did one manufacturer's bike get more use than others? If so, buy one or two more to round out the space.
4. Leasing vs. purchasing. Determine if leasing or purchasing is a better option before signing a purchase agreement. Do you want new product every three years? Or do you prefer to trade in your old equipment toward the purchase of new cardio?
Get the best deal for your specific fitness facility. If you own your equipment, ask for a trade-in deal on the outgoing equipment to be applied toward the new purchase.
Negotiate a longer parts warranty instead of a labor warranty if you have an in-house maintenance team. Request a parts depot so that you can stock known wear items like decks and belts for quicker repair.
5. Plan your equipment delivery day. Plan new equipment delivery on the same day the old equipment is removed. It might mean overnight work, but it lessens the impact on members. Make sure the entire staff gets trained once equipment is installed. The more familiar they are with your product, the more they can help members engage with the product to achieve fitness goals.
These are just the basics to setting up an ideal cardio space.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help differentiate from the competition:
HIIT. Carve out space for high intensity interval training (HIIT) if the cardio deck is large enough. Pair a few air resistance bikes with bars, bands and boxes for a cost-effective HIIT area. It will be ideal for small group training, personal training or individual workouts.
Upgrade group cycling. Competition has never been greater with boutique cycling studios popping up on every corner. Trade out those 10-year-old bikes, freshen up the paint and decoration in the cycling room, and keep members happy. While you are upgrading your indoor cycle space, add a few more to your cardio deck. People who love cycling, love cycling and want to participate outside of class hours or independent of classes. These bikes have no wiring, have a small footprint and are a fraction of the cost of other cardio options.
Assess entertainment. Entertainment can cost up to $1,000 per cardio product with personal viewing screens (PVS) or embedded screens requiring individual wiring, Internet and cable access. The alternative is to set up a bank of TVs for members to watch, which can be a more cost-effective option. But members are beginning to abandon the personal viewing option in favor of content on their own smart phone or tablet. If your members are following this trend, consider more product or better programming in place of PVS.
Sal Pellegrino, director of key accounts for Core Health and Fitness LLC, is a 20-year fitness industry sales executive who has built a strong reputation for partnering with his customers to create complete fitness experiences catered to the needs of each individual facility, member base and budget. Core Health and Fitness includes the Star Trac and StairMaster brands.