Facility Dude

The importance of fitness equipment life cycles

By Kate Donnelly
Nov 14, 2014

Clubs, Facilities Management

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Health clubs and gyms provide users with a variety of tools to get in shape, improve quality of life and, ultimately, extend their lives as much as possible. But it's important to keep equipment life cycle information in mind as well.

Just like essential infrastructure, such as HVAC equipment, fitness apparatuses have their own maintenance concerns and life cycles to be aware of. Everything from exercise balls to weight machines require their own form of monitoring and maintenance to remain safe for users, and fitness facilities may find themselves in trouble if they fail to stay on top of essential equipment maintenance.

Don't let equipment maintenance slip through the cracks

The importance of fitness equipment life cycles If a boiler, furnace or water heater breaks down or slips into disrepair, it can result in costly building maintenance and inconvenience to repair it. If a piece of exercise equipment malfunctions, however, it can lead directly to injury for whomever is using it - truly a nightmare scenario for administrators of health clubs. While larger and more complex machines may see regular maintenance as mandated by manufacturers, facility managers should be careful to also ensure smaller pieces of equipment are regularly inspected.

Athletic Business reported one illustrative example from a health club where an exercise ball burst while in use by a member. The individual sustained minor injuries as a result, and the club found itself on the receiving end of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit spanning over 2 years in litigation. As the source pointed out, the health club could have saved many months and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees had the facility manager been able to demonstrate that the exercise ball was subject to regular maintenance per the manufacturer's directive.

This highlights another common issue in fitness club maintenance. Even if equipment is properly maintained, proper reporting on preventive maintenance operations can get passed over, which, as the aforementioned health club found, can create serious headaches down the road. To this end, health clubs can benefit greatly from a comprehensive CMMS. The ability to accurately track maintenance schedules in real time, from work orders to life cycle management, can provide an extra level of insurance when it comes to keeping equipment functioning properly and safely.

Common maintenance tasks

While all health clubs and, by extension, the various apparatuses they use, are different, there are a few key maintenance points that are widely applicable enough to take note of. Recreation Management outlined some of the more basic preventive maintenance tasks facility managers should have on their list. Exercise equipment sees different and often more intense use than other standard building equipment. Thus, it's important to be extra vigilant.

Perhaps the most basic and most common bit of recreation-specific maintenance has to do with cleanliness. While always important, it takes on a special significance in the health club setting. Gyms mean sweat, and sweat can lead to slips and falls. All equipment should be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis to prevent buildup of sweat that can damage the sensitive internal workings of some machinery. Additionally, the source recommended regularly inspecting both free weights and plate-loaded strength machines to ensure bolts and screws are tight.

Above all, Recreation Management highlighted the importance of adhering to manufacturer instructions when it comes to equipment inspection, maintenance and repair. Almost all major machinery will come with a manufacturer-recommended maintenance routine, and this should be made readily available to all maintenance staff. As stated above, it's crucial that maintenance is not only performed according to proper specifications, but is also logged properly to create a clear record of maintenance actions should a situation arise where such information is needed.

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