The Top 4 Facilities Amenities Worth the Investment

What does your recreation organization or YMCA really need?

Every fitness and membership organization would love to have state-of-the-art equipment and facility features to attract and retain members from miles around. But like all things, we have to prioritize, especially if our nonprofit mission is to support the community in multiple ways beyond fitness.

As you’re preparing for next years’ budget, your organization may be reevaluating the specifics that would allow you to provide a cutting-edge experience both in the gym and in your other facilities and programs while still staying true to your mission and members.

Top 4 Things to Focus On (they may not be what you think)

The answer lies in the right amenities. The rise of online reviews means keeping members happy is more important than ever. There’s no doubt your members and residents expect certain benefits through their membership. But deciding what to invest in can be a challenge – Equipment? Locker rooms? Technology? Facilities? Classes? The answer is really all of the above.

1. Facilities: In a recent study done by Athletic Business, several higher cost items yielded the most elevated “density of patrons,” meaning they were highly used.1 The list includes:

    • Meeting rooms
    • Outdoor pursuits
    • Steam room
    • Juice bar
    • Cycle/Spin room
    • Leisure pool
    • Lounge area
    • Group exercise space
    • Weights and fitness space

Although costly, investing in these amenities may prove to be worthwhile to keeping members happy, and most importantly, returning for the long run. Surveying members about their interest in only those amenities you would be willing to invest in can help you narrow down your decision.

If you wonder where your ideas compare with other organizations, check out what YMCAs survey respondents say they’re planning this year:

2. Equipment: The same study asked members to prioritize the types of equipment they wanted in their gym. They answered, in order of importance:

    • Cardiovascular exercise equipment
    • Free weights
    • Strength equipment
    • Core strength equipment

Taking an audit of each of these areas within your gym may help you prioritize which equipment to invest in for the future. And don’t feel like you have to break the bank to get the latest and greatest models. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal found that gym goers tended to favor simple models over complicated equipment with all the bells and whistles.

If you’re really thinking about going outside the box, check out some of these gyms for inspiration or read our post about cutting-edge parks and recreation programming.

3. Staff: Members come to your facilities not just for exercise, but also for expertise. Investing in wonderful, talented and knowledgeable trainers and staff who get real results is critical to building satisfaction. Life Fitness describes top notch trainers and staff as “able to leverage their personality skills against their workout leadership. In other words, they create trust in their followers that they will deliver exactly what members are coming to get.”2

Here’s a (free) idea for how to maximize your staff to the fullest: Host a weekly wellness chat or Q&A online or in your club with your trainers or instructors. Trainers will get the stage to share even more of the expertise members are paying for.

4. The right technology. When it comes to member management and keeping people coming back on a regular basis, convenience and efficiency are the #1 way to encourage repeat business and long-term members. Think “If you build it (and make it super easy to register, pay and manage your account), they will come.”

With a fully hosted software solution like ACTIVE Net, members can register, pay for and manage their own account online anytime, anyplace.

Focusing on how any improvement you’re considering fits into these top 4 priorities can make next years’ big decisions a little bit easier.


1Athletic Business: Trends in Campus Fitness and Recreation Center Programming
2LifeFitness: What Keeps Exercisers Coming Back?