Lessons in Fitness Center Design: Choosing the Right Equipment

Posted by Justin Honas on Aug 10, 2016 2:42:05 PM

When designing your fitness center there are many factors to consider. It always starts with choosing the right location and space within that location. Then you need to consider décor, lighting, mirrors, lobbies and locker rooms just to name a few. However, at the end of the day the fitness equipment that you choose is the cornerstone of your center and will play a large role in attracting or turning away potential members and clients. When your equipment is poorly maintained, cheap looking and placed without purpose, you not only create a potentially unsafe situation, but turn off clients and discourage them from coming in. Take a look at some important tips that will help you when it comes to choosing the right fitness center equipment.

Variety or Specialization?

For starters, what kind of variety do you need in equipment? Boutique gyms that focus on one activity, like spinning or yoga, are not uncommon today. If your business model is to specialize, then obviously you would want to limit your equipment to that specialty. However, for a vast majority of fitness centers you will need a variety of equipment that spans across cardiovascular, strength, and functional equipment. By doing this you can appeal to a much larger population while giving them the tools to meet and maintain their fitness goals.

Active Wellness, Health Management, The Zone, #ActiveWellness

The Zone at Synergy Health Club


New Models or Old?

Should you buy the latest and greatest versions of the exercise equipment you want? Are the baseline models okay, or are last year’s models good enough? The truth is you do not necessarily have to buy the latest and greatest. It is much more importation to choose equipment that fits the needs of the population which you are trying to attract and retain. It is also critical that the equipment you choose fits within your space constraints, and that you also consider the infrastructure required to operate each piece. For example, there is less reason to spend the extra money on a cardio piece with all the bells and whistles if you do not have the ability to connect to internet and/or TV. You can quickly end up with a very expensive touch screen that only serves as a button to start your workout which could have easily been accomplished with a much cheaper LED console.

A few other thoughts to consider when choosing new verses old. When a new model comes out there are usually a few bugs that the manufacturer will have to work though. If you want the latest and greatest you will need to be prepared to ride out these bumps. Other features to keep an eye on are location of buttons (specifically speed controls), console height and USB ports just to name a few. Footprint can also be factor especially for your strength equipment. Various pieces have been designed to fit small or unique spaces.  Manufacturer warranty and maintenance costs are also things to consider in the overall cost of the equipment. You can consider the option for extending warranties as well as adding maintenance plans to limit surprise costs.


Lease Or Buy?

Knowing how you will be paying for your equipment can play and important factor when choosing it. By leasing you have the ability for consistent payments over time. These structures also help in timing your refresh periods without large spikes in cost. For example, if you decide you would like to replace your cardio equipment every 4 years, you could in turn structure your lease at rolling 48 month terms. Keep in mind that all equipment leases are not created equal. Make sure you understand the terms of your lease.

The downside to a lease is that you will very likely be paying more over time for the equipment, and sometimes lose control of making changes. By purchasing out right you gain the most control possible and can limit risk. It is never a bad idea to consult a qualified accountant when making this enormous decision. 

Active Wellness, Health Management, The Zone, #ActiveWellness

Cardio Area at Tri-City Wellness Center

Do you need help with the Design & Development of your fitness center space? Whether you're updating an existing facility or starting from the ground up on new construction, Active Wellness can help. Contact us today to learn more about our Design & Development Services including Project Design & Planning, Equipment Procurement and Development Support.

Get Started With Active Wellness