How Equipment Manufacturers Consult on Fitness Facility Design and Programming
by Andy Berg
While cardio and strength equipment remain at the core of any club or rec center's fitness offerings, members increasingly want to supplement their time on the treadmill with high-intensity group programming.
SF Fitness’ previous flagship location was a posh club located in the Twitter building on Market Street in San Francisco. That will all change when the chain’s eighth location opens in the Salesforce Transit Center in the city’s Financial District. The new 36,000-square-foot facility will feature a 10,000-square-foot athletic training center that’s been completely outfitted by Eleiko, which also consulted on the design of the facility.
Douglas Malagon, director at the new location, says the athletic training center, which is divided down the middle by a generous 40-yard stretch of turf, is meant to meet a variety of needs — from personal and small-group training to accommodating non-stop group cycle classes that are programmed by content streaming through a giant, wall-sized LED screen.
“It’s just a massive facility that’s dedicated to sports performance,” Malagon says. “We can train anyone in there, from a high-level athlete to the high-tech and financial crowd.”
Representatives from Eleiko helped in ensuring the training center had everything it needed to achieve that goal. From 16 Eleiko platforms to sleds, plyoboxes and rowers, the space is set up for versatility.
“I know the owners really wanted to make their mark on the city with this club, and they wanted to attract a lot of athletes that are here in the city,” Malagon says. “And I know that they really shared that with Eleiko — that they wanted to build the best performance-based gym out there, so that we draw that demographic.”
"Studio 7 gives us an opportunity to kind of plant our flag in the ground and just say, you know, we're here to compete with all the other fitness boutique or fitness studios here in Norman," Noel says, "and your money is staying with us, with the Y."
Like Matrix's MX4, Precor's Studio 7 centers around a functional training system called Queenax.
"Queenax is a modular platform that can be configured in myriad ways to accommodate nearly any space or program intent — from mind/body programming to metabolic conditioning and HIIT workouts," says Tillinghast, who likens the system to Legos, as the company offers configurations as small as a single beam to structures that cover an entire group exercise studio.
The Evolved Studio resides in a unit at the end of a strip mall and currently features a large Queenax system, four treadmills, two Aerodyne bikes and two HydroMassage beds, as well as two bathrooms. "We can fit about 16 for our Studio Ignite class and then 12 for our Studio Lean class," Noel explains. "We don't feel crammed at all with it by any stretch of the imagination."
Tillinghast says that operators are always challenged to offer competitive programming and retain coaches, suggesting that turnkey programming is one way to ease at least one of the pain points in that process.
"Facilities may struggle to offer competitive group training rates to coaches, which can be a hindrance to retention or deter interest in investing time in developing and implementing great programs," she says. "As such, purchasing programs from program development companies and vendors can be a sound way to reduce barriers to entry for staff, and ensure content quality and consistency for exercisers."
Noel says having a program to lean on has improved the quality of the classes he's been able to offer his members.
"In the past, whenever I would teach, I would just teach what I thought would be a good workout for me that day," he says. "I wouldn't really consider everybody else. The great thing about what we're doing now is I can get everybody in one room and it's preprogrammed, and all my coaches have to do is run the program like it's designed and then you're going to get everything right."
This article originally appeared in the January | February 2020 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Can an equipment manufacturer help you take on the boutiques?" Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry.
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My name is Chris Stevenson, and I am addicted to the fitness industry.
I've been in the industry for more than 20 years and have pretty much done it all. I've taught group exercise classes. I've trained people. I've sold memberships. I opened a small personal training studio in 2003. It was a simple model. We sold 10 and 20 packs of training sessions. That was it.