In today's fitness market there is no shortage of choices when it comes to selecting equipment for your facility. Granted much of it lives in similar categories like treadmills, selectorized strength, platforms, etc., but the options from manufacturers continues to grow. As a facility looking to make decisions that are best for your business how do you decide? At The Abs Company we've been making equipment for over 20 years and in that time we've boiled it down to 3 steps which will help you optimize your selections: Effectiveness, Safety and Space.
It should come as no big surprise that when selecting equipment for your facility effectiveness should be a top consideration. However it is also important to define exactly what that means. Effectiveness starts with defining the desired outcome. What are you looking for this product to do for your facility, your members and your business? The simple answer is to help members increase strength, cardio vascular fitness, flexibility etc. If that were the only consideration we wouldn't need equipment at all! Body-weight exercise, a pair of running shoes and a place to stretch would suffice. Clearly this does not serve your business so when it comes to effectiveness we must go deeper.
Effective equipment must engage your members and your prospects. When a person comes in to your facility and sees what you have to offer, it should excite them. That is a key component in getting them to join or remain as a member. Often times this means something they haven't seen before. There are several products on the market that really stand out as unique and these are certainly things that you should highlight on your membership tours. Pick 2 or 3 unique pieces of equipment in your facility and GET PROSPECTS ON THEM! They will have a wow moment and will instantly feel connected to your facility. We have countless testimonials from customers telling us how they use products of ours like the TireFlip 180® or Ab Coaster® in this very manner. Go and find what these items are for you and start building them into your tours. As you think about new equipment, ask yourself if this item could also fit this need.
Effective equipment also lives in one of 2 buckets which I call main floor or trainer-centric. It's important to identify which one because if you don't, the piece can simply end up taking floor space and not used by members or trainers. In my early years at trade shows I always wanted to give a demonstration of the equipment. Sure there is value in pointing out benefits and features, but this is not a real world depiction of what will happen in your facility. Members need to be able to go right up to the piece of equipment and with little to no instruction get on and use it. This is what I call "main floor". Naturally instruction can help them go deeper in their understanding of usage but it can not be dependent on this. If it is then the piece falls into the second bucket - trainer-centric.
Trainer-centric pieces are ones that will go in special training areas of your facility or are specifically used with members that are working with a trainer. With national personal training penetration around 10% these pieces should be more limited in your facility as the 90% of members working without trainers may not get to use them. It is important to note that such unique pieces can be used to help SELL training. When a member is considering working with a trainer, you show them these pieces and again provide that wow moment!
Finally, effective equipment must make members feel comfortable. Knowing how to use a piece of equipment is part of this but a member must also feel physically comfortable using the piece knowing that they are not in a physically compromising position. For example, one of the hottest areas in fitness today is Glute Training. Members will do nearly anything to train this area of the body. The most popular exercise is the hip thrust and there is no shortage of options on machines that deliver this. However, many of the members can feel uncomfortable with this motion as they are driving their hips in the air in plain sight of the rest of the facility. Body position was a key design consideration in the development of the all new Glute Coaster™ which is available now.
Clearly safety is a major concern in facilities globally. Aside from liability issues nobody wants to see a member get hurt in their facility. If fact, it's the exact opposite of what we want. All of us are in this industry because we want to change lives through fitness. If someone is hurt that becomes much more challenging. When considering a piece of equipment it is imperative to examine safety factors. Are there multiple adjustments that a member may not easily figure out? Are the mechanics of the machine correct or do they put members in compromising positions? Could members in the surrounding areas be hurt unexpectedly if the exercising member loses control or invades their space?
There was a well-publicized article just a while ago where a member was stretching after a workout and another member dropped a tractor tire on her leg when it got away from him during training. The stretching member's leg was shattered and she faces a lengthy recovery. We all know accidents in training can happen but it is incumbent on facility owners to do all they can to minimize them. Running equipment selection through the safety filter can certainly help.
Facilities worldwide are squeezed for space. Rent is the biggest single fixed cost most clubs face so owners are trying to be as efficient as possible when designing their space. The goal is the maximum effectiveness in less space. This can drive profitability. The challenge in today's fitness market is that members are asking for more open space to engage in the popular training protocols of the day. It is no easy task to give members this while balancing the need for beginning members to still see more friendly selectorized or cardio options. I like to say that it's not necessarily about the space in the facility but how to most effectively use it. This is a big reason The Abs Company focuses on space saving equipment in our functional selection. Typically to allow members to flip a tire you need 20-30 yards to be effective. With the TireFlip 180® you can do it in 5 feet! Typically to train with battle ropes you need 20-30 feet of space. With the BattleRope ST® you can do it in 10 feet. Typically to train with a push sled or the derivatives thereof, you need 20-30 yards. The all-new SledMill™ allows you to have a true alternative for sled training in just 8 feet. Think about the massive space savings these products provide and how many more members can effectively train in the same area that was being dominated by 2-3 members!. When you purchase space saving equipment you are not only buying the equipment but effectively buying your space back too!
A facility without equipment is essentially not a facility at all. As with most, the fitness industry is in constant flux and evolution. Years ago facilities were packed with as much equipment as possible. Then came the era of less equipment and massive open spaces. I believe, like with most things, that the answer is somewhere in the middle. You need equipment so the selection process is becoming more and more rigorous. Having a framework like Effectiveness, Safety, and Space can help you along the way! At The Abs Company We Change Lives from the Core®! It's why we do what we do and we work hard to keep this first place in our designs.