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Obstacle Course

Gyms are among the businesses with the most diverse customer bases, making it seemingly impossible to accommodate so many different types of people.

Not only do you have to make your customers comfortable, but you may also have other obstacles to overcome, such as limited space, limited equipment and limited funds to work with.

This article addresses just that... obstacles. So get your floor plans out and get ready to make your gym make sense.

Convenient Fitness

There's a large crowd of people with limited time to fit in fitness, and you need to set up an area dedicated to them. These include your community's working parents, busy executives, and also those who know they need to do something to keep themselves healthy but don't necessarily want to dedicate a lot of time to it.

This area is normally called the circuit. You want to set up this area closest to the door because these people generally want to get in and get out and want to do it without a whole lot of walking back and forth to different areas of the gym.

The circuit will have machines such as the leg extension, leg curl, inner and outer thigh (abductor, abduction), leg press, pec deck, and varying shoulder and back machines.

Basically, all of your machines which keep the body in alignment and have the weight enclosed in the machine will go here in an order that makes sense. Everything to do with legs will be next to each other on one row, everything to do with chest and shoulders the next, then back and bicep/triceps machines.

Be sure you have at least one pulley machine because this can be used for several exercises if you don't have a particular machine for bicep/triceps or back, and is very versatile and cost effective as long as you purchase the varying bars to accompany it.

Be sure to never place your inner/outer thigh machines facing a mirror or the other patrons, this can make the person using it very uncomfortable and you may even begin to notice that it never gets used. Face them toward a corner or a window and in a discreet place, not in the middle of the floor.

Exercising Freely

The next area in your gym will be the free weight area. Dumbbells should be located close to the circuit area in case your patrons want to do a few dumbbell exercises along with their circuit routine.

Be sure all of your dumbbells up to ten pounds are located together, especially if they vary in color from the other dumbbells like most of them do. If your weight room has two floors, keep the smaller dumbbells closer to the cardio equipment.

Circuit equipment should be located along with all other weight lifting machines and not on the same floor as cardio equipment.

Your larger dumbbells, from 10 pounds and up, should be located in a separate area with some adjustable benches and a mirror close by. If you can build a platform for the area to be on, that is ideal. This area will be for all patrons because almost everyone uses dumbbells.

The adjustable benches are for those patrons who are knowledgeable about weight lifting and vary the bench to hit different parts of the muscle or perform different exercises. If you only purchase benches that do not adjust you are wasting your money.

People do all kinds of different exercises with dumbbells, so give them some extra space.

Stay Centered

Weight lifters who know machines and know what exercises to do don't need their own area of the gym. These are your power lifters, bodybuilders, and those truly dedicated to getting a muscular shape. Therefore, they are perfectly happy traveling across the gym to get to the machine they are interested in primarily because, at some point in time, they will use them all.

In order to make your gym make sense for these patrons, keep all of your machines that use free weights together. Keep a centralized area with your weight plates on it for patrons to have easy access to them. These are the machines you can put in the center of the room because people who know how to use them generally don't care where they are. They are usually confident in the exercises they are performing and the best thing you can offer is a varying amount of free weights for use with these machines.

Another great purchase that can be used for several different exercises is a free-standing machine that has an enclosed bar for stability. Almost any body part can be exercised with this machine, but it is primarily used for squats, so be sure that your other squat machines and leg press machines are located in close proximity.

And then there are those other things...

Your miscellaneous machines such as the roman chair and abdominal benches will be just that, miscellaneous. You can place them anywhere in the room, but make sure you have one close to the circuit training, and don't place one in the middle of the dumbbell section. No one wants to sit in the middle of a bunch of people and train their abs or lower back, so place them off to the sides.

The Cardio Room

Whether you have several machines, or only just a few, the machines should always be as separate as possible from the weight lifting machines. If someone is doing cardio, they are not lifting weights and vice versa. Therefore, separate the exercises into two different areas.

Again, if you have one room, a platform is great idea. If your machines are facing a television, be sure the bikes are on the first row because those people will be sitting, next will be your treadmills because those people are standing, and last will be your stair climbers and elliptical trainers because those people are climbing or bouncing.

If your TV is up high, put the bikes farther back because people will be straining their necks if they are up close. Do you need a TV? It's a relatively inexpensive thing to put in your cardio room, but not entirely necessary.

If you choose not to have one, hang motivational messages such as, "Did you know that people who work out with music burn twice as many calories as those who watch television?"

Also, face them toward the weight lifting machines that way they can watch fellow exercises and maybe learn something by watching them. If you have an upstairs, this is where the cardio equipment should go, especially if you can face the cardio machines toward the other patrons lifting weights.

After you've decided how your gym will make sense, educate your patrons on why you put certain things where. For instance, "Here is the circuit area, you'll want to start here if you're a beginner because we've placed all of our machines for differing body parts together and these machines are designed to keep your body aligned to ensure good form". If it makes sense to you, it makes sense to them.

Kati Trammel is advertising and public relations account executive for MCCS Marketing, Semper Fit, Retail, Food and Beverage, based in Okinawa, Japan.

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