Improve Your Gym With A Good Cleaning

Nowadays gym owners are doing everything they can to improve their gyms. In this article, Mark discusses how simply cleaning up can grow your gym business.

If your trainers, equipment, and location are nearly identical to other facilities in your area, maintaining a clean and tidy space might be the difference between gaining a client and losing them.

Mark Campbell

Mark Campbell is the owner and founder of CORE Strong Fitness. Mark Campbell is a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer since 2008, he is the First Certified BLACK Rank TRX Training Coach in the Midwest and currently holds the highest level of education offered through TRX, is FMT Level 1 Certified through RockTape, Theragun Master Trainer, Certified Barefoot Training Specialist though EBFA, Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach, and Performance Climbing Coach.

// Improve Your Gym And Think Like Kondō

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong,” author Marie Kondō writes in her hit book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Such a shortcoming was exactly what came to mind when I recently saw a post from a CrossFit box owner who lives fairly close to me in Kansas City. 

The image he put on his Facebook feed showed a jumbled pile of medicine balls crammed between some kettlebells and weight plates. He was imploring his members to do a better job of putting items where they’re supposed to go, instead of just shoving them somewhere random. 

This got me thinking about tidiness at my own gym and how having a place for everything and everything in its place might also benefit you, your facility, and your business. 

We’ve all been inside a facility like that CrossFit box I just mentioned (not to pick on CrossFit at all – such clutter is all too common at gyms of every kind). 

Maybe it’s a tangle of jump ropes that first catches the eye, dumbbells left carelessly on the floor, or a pile of sweaty mats messing up the stretching/mobility area. Regardless, the initial impression that imprints in the brain is one of chaos and disorder. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s a guest and is comparing several local gyms before deciding which to join. 

Would you be more or less likely to give this gym your business because of how it looks? 

Beyond mere appearances, a messy space says something about how you treat your trainers and clients. It demonstrates a lack of care and suggests that you’ve let attention to detail and pride in your work slip. If you were the gym owner responsible for this disordered space with its haphazard equipment setup, you might say something like, “But it’s not me that makes the mess – it’s the people who don’t clean up after themselves.” 

Certainly, there is an element of individual responsibility here and, just like the supermarket that cannot force its customers to put carts away rather than leaving them to block parking spaces, you cannot force your members to be model citizens. 

But as a gym owner the buck stops with you, and you can encourage your clientele to be cleaner and tidier. Labeling is a simple place to start. If everyone can clearly see a shelf that says “Medicine balls,” then they’ll know where to go after they’ve done their tosses, twists, or slams. 

You could even go one better by clearly and legibly writing “10-pound medicine ball,” “20-pound medicine ball,” and so on in the appropriate spots. The same goes for your dumbbell and kettlebell racks. This way, there’s no ambiguity and people know exactly where to put their equipment.

Tips For A Clean Gym

Leading By Example

Modeling the behavior that you want others to display is another important yet often overlooked tactic that will help you keep your gym tidy. 

If clients – or those who might decide to join – see you and your training staff returning equipment and tidying up between sessions, they’re likely to follow suit. Subconsciously, your willingness to take the lead will also show that you have high standards and expect them of your staff. This sets a high bar and makes a good first impression on regulars and visitors alike. 

A secondary benefit to treating your equipment with care is that it will last longer. I’ve been in gyms where kettlebells are placed roughly on concrete floors, which can damage the bells themselves and could crack the concrete. Then there are those facilities in which other gear is piled up on top of kettlebells and dumbbells, which can lead to the handles becoming rough – not fun if you’re doing swings or snatches.

I’ve also come across sand bags and balls that are leaking because the sides are split. This might not happen immediately, but over time if your equipment has a shorter shelf life, you’ll end up shelling out for replacements, driving up your costs. 

Whereas if trainers and members alike treat everything with the respect it deserves, you’ll protect your investment and keep your gear in appealing, like-new shape. That’s one more win from a member retention standpoint. 

Keeping your gym well-organized can also make your staff more effective. When a trainer says, “OK everyone, go grab a 25-pound kettlebell and a 10-pound slam ball,” you don’t want everyone to run off on a long treasure hunt. 

They should know exactly where to find whatever they need and, when possible, this should be centrally located to avoid delays. You want clients focusing on going into their workout with enthusiasm and a desire to learn, not wasting energy looking high and low for the tools they need to get the job done.

Make The Most Of Your Space

As I was ruminating on the philosophical and practical differences between a tidy gym and a cluttered one, I thought of how much more difficult it would be for our gym to offer our members high-quality service if they couldn’t move around the facility easily. We only have 1,500 square feet and I want to make the most of every available inch. 

This is why we keep as much equipment along the edges as possible, utilize space-saving storage options, and mount all our TRX Suspension Trainers to a single rig rather than having individual stations. 

Tidiness isn’t a policy for its own sake but exists to help our clients get the most from their experience each and every time they walk through the front door. 

That’s why we declutter after every session and have arranged our equipment to help people flow effortlessly instead of them feeling like they’re running an obstacle course. 

Keeping order throughout the day also allows us to save time in the evening. As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re already investing extra effort in keeping our gym clean in the wake of COVID-19. It’s so much easier to go down a nice straight line of kettlebells with a cloth and spray bottles than it would be if they were strewn about randomly. 

The same goes for the TRX straps and all our other gear. As every item is returned to where it belongs, my staff and I can clean more thoroughly, effectively, and efficiently. This helps keep our members safer. 

Make no mistake: this is still a tough time for gym owners. 

Even if your city, district, and state authorities have allowed all the facilities in your area to open and you have a loyal membership base, I know all too well that many people are still reluctant to return to where they used to train before the pandemic struck. And those who’ve never had a gym membership are reluctant to sign up for one. With this in mind, your gym needs every competitive advantage it can get.

If your trainers, equipment, and location are nearly identical to other facilities in your area, maintaining a clean and tidy space might be the difference between gaining a client and losing them.

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