Equipping Your Facility. Part 1

The equipment you select for your club says more about your facility than the decor or equipment layout. Who wants to work out in a gorgeous.

club if it’s outfitted with outdated, substandard equipment? When potential members tour your facility, one of their top considerations will be the types of equipment you feature. To stay competitive and attract and retain members, you must do your research and choose equipment that is appropriate for your market. How should you approach choosing the products that are featured in your facility? Read on for some advice from industry experts.

Examining the options

Most people like to get a feel for something before they purchase it, and there are many ways to see and try fitnessequipment before you buy it.

Trade shows. One way to try out new equipmentis to attend industry trade shows, where manufacturers unveil new equipment and display their most popular products. If cross-country trips aren’t in your budget, or your buying period occurs during a lull in exhibitions, you can still get a hands-on experience through other methods.

Competitor facilities. While it may seem counter-intuitive, cruising the local market is actually a great way to determine industry trends. “Go around to other clubs,” says Donald DeMars of Donald DeMars International, a Chatsworth, Calif., design and development consulting firm. “It’s very educational to go out and watch what is going on, and what is being used. Talk to the managers of the clubs: They have very strong opinions of the manufacturers and how their products hold up and how they come through on customer service.” If a manufacturer develops a new piece of equipment but you’re hesitant to buy it without trying it, find out if anyone in your area has taken the risk. Then, send some inconspicuous staff members over to try it, or call the manager and arrange a time for you to work out on it.

Distributors. Contact individual manufacturers or use the Fitness Management 2001 Products and ServicesSource Guide to locate distributors in your area. Some will send you a piece of equipment on consignment for 30 days; others will send you a demo with a money-back guarantee. These are the best ways to try equipment, says Bob Stauble, chief operating officer of Healthtrax in Glastonbury, Conn. Manufacturers like to send demo models because they know that once a piece of equipment is in use, it is difficult for a facility to remove it without upsetting members. To avoid angering members, Stauble suggests placing ropes around the featured pieceofequipmentwith a sign stating, “We’ve been asked by (manufacturer) to try this. Please let us know your opinionabout the equipment.”

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