Guest Facilities

Keeping Tabs on Your Facility’s Maintenance

With more and more accommodation providers choosing to add an exercise area to their facilities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of which equipment pieces to choose, how they will fit space-wise in the area allocated and how they will complement the overall look and décor of the property.

Among all of this there is one equally important decision that tends to get frequently overlooked and that is in the area of equipment maintenance.

Essentially all exercise equipment requires some form of maintenance to ensure a long period of problem-free operation. Just as a car requires periodic servicing, so does fitness equipment and how you structure performing this maintenance will ultimately influence the longevity of the equipment you purchase, lease or rent.

Regular, planned maintenance is strongly advised as it affects not only how long your equipment lasts but also how long it stays visually presentable, which is of great importance in the hospitality trade as the exercise room and equipment provided in it will reflect positively or in some cases, negatively on your facility as a whole.

A good rule of thumb regarding changing or upgrading exercise equipment and in particular cardio gear is that a new piece of equipment will probably look and feel “new” for around two to three years depending on how often it is used and how well it is cleaned and maintained. After this time period it is probably time to look at updating your exercise equipment; as to a hotel guest, there is little worse than staying in a premium, modern suite, serviced by immaculately presented and mannered staff only to use rusty, noisy and dated equipment! That is one of the reasons many hotels choose to lease their equipment for two to three year lease periods as this gives their facilities the chance to update their products with new equipment regularly to preserve a fresh corporate look to their exercise areas.

Another often overlooked reason for keeping exercise equipment well maintained is that regular servicing and maintenance minimises the risk of injury to guests using the equipment.

Maintenance of exercise equipment falls into two general categories: preventative and restorative. For the purposes of this article I’d like to focus on basic preventative maintenance as restorative maintenance (actually repairing or replacing worn or faulty parts) is an area best left to the professionals.

Preventative maintenance is an area that most accommodation providers can look after themselves, providing they allocate the necessary resources and time to do so properly. It is of great importance that the maintenance be pre-planned and checked off to ensure each piece of equipment is inspected visually and physically then cleaned and adjusted if necessary in order to ensure problem-free operation. This is the preferred form of maintenance as it involves isolating problems before they occur, which minimises any down time of equipment for the guests and shows a professional standard of conduct by the accommodation provider. It is also similar to how most successful commercial gyms perform their maintenance.

In performing preventative maintenance there are some general areas to look out for.

Treadmills need to be kept clean, especially where the belt meets the running deck and under the motor cavity. The area between the belt and side rails can be wiped for dust and the motor cavity should be vacuumed (with the power disconnected) every two to three months to stop dust and debris building up on the motor and control board. Along with this the belt may need periodic alignment and the deck may or may not need lubrication depending on the treadmill’s design. These steps can be performed by the hotels maintenance crew or by professional service technicians; the key aspect here is to ensure that they get done regularly. If in doubt, ask your service provider for details of a three or four visit per year service contract. Also, it is important to remember that the treadmill belt is a wearing part and overly worn belts affect not only the performance of the machine but also pose a safety risk to the user.

Exercycles are relatively low-maintenance machines as they are usually sealed units, with the braking systems and tensioning mechanisms being located inside the machines housing; however the crank and pedal attachments may need occasional tightening along with any adjustment bolts that are subject to loosening. These include the handle bar stem, the handle bars themselves and the seat.

Elliptical trainers have many moving parts and pivot points, which means they will require a little more attention than exercycles to keep them running smoothly. Areas to look at are where the machine’s arms and pedals attach to each other and the machine’s frame. Also most will require cleaning of the track where their roller mechanisms operate as this area is prone to carpet dust build-up. You will know when this is dirty as it will feel like you are rolling over rocks when in use.

Spin bikes will require similar maintenance to exercycles along with an occasional visual inspection of the braking mechanism. This is usually a leather or felt pad, and is a wearing part that will require occasional replacement. As spin bikes tend to get fairly heavy use, frequent tightening of pedals and adjustment knobs may be required and careful wiping down of the frame will also be required to prevent premature rust build-up in the machine’s welds and gussets.

Strength equipment – weight benches and machines require a periodic visual and physical inspection of all moving parts, cabling, pulleys and pretty much anywhere else that has the propensity to become loose. Areas to concentrate on include lock nut and bolt joins on benches and frames, the sheathing and crimping of cables and their attachments to multi gyms and also dumbbells that have allen bolts holding the plates on as these are notorious for coming unwound when dropped. A weekly inspection should ensure that these pieces remain safe to use and as with the cardio pieces a regular wipe down will keep them looking newer for longer. Areas that aren’t in contact with sweat can be cleaned via simple dusting.

Accessories such as yoga mats and swissballs should be sprayed and wiped down on a daily basis as a sanitary concern to prevent bacteria build-up on their surfaces and to keep them looking tidy.

All swissballs should be high-quality anti-burst models and commercially rated to at least 130kgs, as again, if one bursts under use a serious injury could result. Swissballs themselves can be visually inspected for nicks and scratches and if a deep scratch or nick is seen or felt then it is important to remove the ball from the exercise room immediately as it may have compromised wall integrity.

These maintenance steps aren’t too difficult and can be performed by the majority of hotel service staff, however, if in any doubt, investing in a service contract is money well spent as many machines’ warranties are dependent on correct servicing and maintenance. Having a professional pre-booked at set intervals throughout the year covers this. If your facility prefers to look after their own maintenance, then that’s fine as well, just make sure your equipment provider is able to show several key staff the basics of maintaining the machines upon installation and ensure it is diarised and performed regularly. That way you can provide smooth-running, professional exercise equipment to your guests and minimise the chances of any down time through the equipment failure.

Darryl Barrett
Elite Fitness 

Darryl Barrett has a background in the fitness industry with New Zealand qualifications in fitness instruction, wellness coaching and personal training. He currently heads up commercial sales for Elite Fitness, overseeing Auckland and the North Island Region and has experience in maintaining the exercise equipment of a busy commercial gym in Auckland.

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