Top Considerations That Make or Break a Fitness Center

By Bryan Green Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products | April 01, 2010

For contactors and developers building in the hospitality industry, it's certainly critical to carry a solid understanding of the operational model and how design, layout, and functionality will serve to support the revenue and customer service goals of the property. For most professionals working in this realm, the long-standing ratios around "heads and beds" and "keys"-based projections is nothing new to you. However, one area within the hospitality industry that's evolved significantly in recent years is fitness. Usage rates for hotel/resort fitness centers have increased steadily, increasing the priority that hotel operators are placing on these environments as a source of both customer satisfaction and revenue generation.

In the ongoing effort to meet the demands of your customers and ultimately, their customers, its important to consider some of the basic considerations that can make or break the success of a hospitality-based fitness facility. With project budgets always being of paramount concern, overlooking these considerations in the early going can prove extremely costly. After fifteen years of focus in the fitness industry, and working with thousands of hotel and resort properties, I offer you some of the top-line considerations, when embarking on a new or remolded fitness facility project. With competition on project bids as fierce as ever, this unique and detailed knowledge should help to further set your company apart from the rest.

Spatial Planning

First and foremost, it's critical that the fitness center layout afford enough space to accommodate the volume of end users. This is one of the most common miscalculations made in advance of construction. Whether due to outdated data, poor availability of data, or just inaccurate projections, professionals consistently underestimate fitness center usage rates at around five to 10 percent. In reality, due to so many fitness conscious and active-lifestyle consumers, usage rates are typically at anywhere from 15 to 20 percent (roughly one in five guests). Fitness center planning needs to anticipate this and accommodate it with the appropriate dimensions and layout. It will be critical to do the math using the capacity of the entire hotel/resort facility and using realistic usage rates to develop accurate projections of your space needs. As is always a wise move, give the fitness center room to grow and evolve as usage rates increase and customer demand changes.

Electrical and Entertainment "Feed" Placement

It's critical to anticipate and carefully chart the layout of electrical wiring and feed locations for the fitness center. Tearing up concrete to adjust an electrical layout after a mistake in placement is something that can take your budget into the stratosphere. This has become an increasingly significant consideration with the rapid growth of fitness entertainment amenities. Back in the day, it was enough to suspend a television in the corner of the room. Today, consumers expect to enjoy personal viewing screens, audio headsets and other entertainment features. This requires direct cable or satellite feeds to each and every treadmill or elliptical trainer that features personal audio or viewing screens. Just because a given facility isn't planning extensive entertainment amenities immediately, customer demand can create the need to upgrade to these features. Don't limit the ability to adjust and make additions in the future. Be sure to anticipate and account for this possibility and avoid significant costs and business interruption if and when a decision to upgrade is made down the line. Bottom line: consider these electrical placement issues carefully well in advance of pouring concrete.

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