Optimizing Strength

HumanSport equipment. Photo courtesy of Roman Polyachenko.

Photo courtesy of Roman Polyachenko.

When Chris Salisbury chose equipment for his 17,500-square-foot Hive Lifespan Center in East Amherst, N.Y., he selected pieces based on the type of member he wanted — athletes, post-rehab and personal training clients. According to Salisbury, the type of strength training equipment you place in your club can determine the type of member your club attracts.

“After I opened, I thought, ‘Wow, I don’t have to tell people I don’t want gym bags on the floor or guys grunting and dropping weights, because those type of people just aren’t here,” said Salisbury. The vast majority of Hive’s strength equipment consists of Star Trac’s HumanSport® line, and some free weight pieces. The equipment selection has helped him mold his membership to be more focused on personal and small group training.

“Our club is very trainer-centric,” said Salisbury. Out of around 850 members, 65 percent of Hive’s members participate in personal or small group training. “Because of this, when we purchased equipment, the thought process was — what will be ideal for semi-private training sessions?” he explained.

According to Salisbury, Star Trac’s HumanSport line and Technogym’s Kinesis stations have both been ideal for small group and personal training due to their multi-functionality. “The benefits of HumanSport and Kinesis are that they are ‘grab and go,’ meaning the only adjustment would be the initial weight selection,” explained Salisbury. “They allow for multi-joint exercises that can be both progressed and regressed during the exercise. Each piece of HumanSport is capable of 30-plus exercises … and because of independent weight stacks on HumanSport, two users can share a piece during semi-private training.”

This is beneficial to not only Salisbury’s trainers and members, but to his bottom line. “The HumanSport line allows me to monetize the equipment,” said Salisbury. “It’s a profit center, it’s not just a piece of equipment. If you can train members on the equipment and they see benefits from it, you can charge them for it.”

Salisbury explained that members have the option to purchase small group “Specialty Training” packages, where they are trained solely on the HumanSport equipment. A group of four pays $88 per package for four sessions, a group of eight pays $160 for eight sessions and a group of 12 pays $216 for 12 sessions, or members can train on the equipment individually with a trainer for $24 per session. “We utilize the benefits of HumanSport in our semi-private training and specialty training,” he said. “Other modalities that we offer under Specialty Training, in addition to HumanSport, are Gravity, suspension training and kettlebells.”

In terms of selectorized and plate-loaded equipment, Mike Feeney, the EVP of design, construction and a co-founder of NeV, said that the biggest change lies in strength equipment’s durability, which he trended as going downhill. “I see [manufactures] spending a lot of time and energy on sex appeal, versus durability,” said Feeney.

To make sure the products you purchase are not only appealing, but also stand the test of time, Feeney suggested owners do research and shop all of the various strength lines in the current market. “The best resources are other club owners,” said Feeney. “Get references, talk to others about what products they use and why they use them.”

When Mitch Batkin, the senior vice president of Sport&Health, is shopping strength lines, to ensure durability he brings along his head of maintenance, which advises him on the products to purchase.

Strength equipment at Crunch Fitness.

Strength equipment at Crunch Fitness.

“He is an exceptionally good maintenance head,” said Batkin. “I trust his judgment and bring him along when I’m looking at new products. I look for aesthetics and what I think the members will love. He looks for what is built well and what is easy to fix if something breaks. If something has an enormous number of moving parts, or for example, the grade of steel is thinner, you get a good idea of how well it will withstand use.”

“Use” is another factor to consider when equipping your club’s strength options. According to Feeney, clubs should know their daily workout traffic and equip accordingly. “How much equipment you have depends on workout volume,” said Feeney. “If you have an excess of 25,000 workouts a month, you should have 40-48 strength pieces, or three circuits. Some clubs have 15,000 members, but only 8,000 are active. Focus on the active number.”

Additionally, Feeney suggested that a club equip according to its actual workout floor’s square footage — not the club’s entirety. “Club owners have asked me how much equipment they should have in their clubs based on their entire square footage, which includes the locker rooms, basketball courts and functional training areas,” he explained. Looking at your workout floor’s square footage only, Feeney suggested that 30 percent should be selectorized equipment, 30 percent free weights and the other 40 percent filled with cardio equipment.

Concerning layout, Feeney has favored placing strength training equipment in front of cardio, “so that people on a piece of cardio equipment can see strength all the time,” he said. “They’ll notice that the selectorized area especially is full of all different types of people, and they’ll think, ‘that’s something I can easily do.’”

Due to his club’s focus on small group and personal training, Salisbury has favored placing cardio in the center of the club, encircled by strength training equipment. “This allows more access to trainers and clients,” said Salisbury. “You can have a member do a 500-meter interval and then use the squat rack directly afterwards.”

Ultimately, this has worked for Salisbury’s club due to his preferred clientele, and his focus on their specific strength training needs. “Your equipment selection determines the demographic of your club,” said Salisbury. “For my needs, you can’t have cardio and strength as being separate anymore. Integration is what people are looking for.”

Although your needs may differ from Salisbury’s, keeping the needs of your members in mind is key to getting the most use out of your strength training equipment. The next time you consider purchasing a new line or piece of equipment, think about how it will be perceived by members. If it’s popular enough, you may be able to take a note from Salisbury and create a trainer package based entirely around the line itself. Look at every piece with the potential to become its own profit center.

By Rachel Zabonick

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