5 Reasons to Upgrade Your Gym’s Cardio Equipment

Here’s why even a limited investment can increase retention and burnish your health club brand.

When it comes to ROI, few investment decisions are more important than your purchase of cardio units. On average, health clubs pay 45.9% of their total spending allocation on cardio equipment, according to The IHRSA Health Club Equipment Report: Spending, Utilization & Programming Trends. With research showing that training on cardio units is still the No. 1 member activity, you need to choose wisely.

“How you stock your gym is a crucial component of your club’s identity and success,” says IHRSA’s e-book, Buying Exercise Equipment for Your Health Club: A Purchasing Strategy. “According to The IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, eight of the top 10 club attractions cited by members are equipment-related.”

But just as important as making purchasing decisions for brand-new facilities, club operators of existing clubs need to know when to invest in an equipment upgrade. That decision is a bit more complicated—and club owners often put it off. As IHRSA’s e-book says: “New prospects expect it, existing members request it, and staff push for it, but investors/owners often resist it.”

Mostly, reinvestment is a retention strategy. The IHRSA Health Club Equipment Report found that 73.2% of club owners say that their equipment purchasing decision is based on retaining existing members. The good news is that the average ROI industry-wide supports the decision to invest in equipment upgrades. The IHRSA Health Club Equipment Report cited above found that some clubs enjoy revenue growth as high as 33% after investing 13.4% of revenue into new equipment.

But even if the raw numbers add up that doesn’t tell you which equipment you should rely on in your upgrading strategy. You need to know what gives you more bang for your buck.

5 Reasons to Upgrade Your Club’s Equipment

It helps to drill down into the best reasons to upgrade. Understanding why it’s a great business decision to replace your older equipment will help clarify your approach. Here are five guidelines to consider.

1. People demand the latest tech. You have to give it to them.

Consumers of all ages expect upgraded technology in the products and services they use, and that includes cardio equipment. Newer machines that integrate with wearables and “talk” to smartphones are becoming more important than ever. According to analyst CCS Insight, the wearable market will double by 2022 to become a $27 billion industry. Your members will make up a healthy percentage of that market. Make sure you’re keeping them connected to your equipment and not your competitor’s.

2. New cardio units can increase non-dues revenue.

Marketing to existing customers is a proven money maker. Research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company asserts that it’s more profitable to upsell current customers than to acquire new ones. It also improves customer retention and loyalty.

Upgrading a product is synonymous with upselling, and newer equipment models can help you market more services to existing members. One reason is that newer cardio units are designed to work with group X, boot camp, heart rate, and HIIT circuit training classes. These are effective workouts that are in high demand by younger demographics. (Group training also helps boost retention, according to the 2018 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report.) You need cardio machines that can satisfy these demands.

3. You’ll increase your accumulation of actionable data.

New cardio models with cloud-connected sensors will increase your member data collection and asset management statistics. Most newer units track usage of members through personalized codes, helping customers keep track of their fitness activity while keeping them loyal to a machine that “knows” them. You’ll also be able to keep track of maintenance needs with more efficiency due to increased data tracking.

4. Upgraded equipment increases brand equity.

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Introducing new equipment is a brand differentiator. It also sends a message to your membership that you’re willing to invest in a better workout experience. Older equipment doesn’t just create a stale environment, repairs and maintenance costs can add up quickly. Those funds you’re spending on repairs may be better used as a down payment for newer models.

5. You need to keep up with fitness trends.

Fitness consultant Brent Darden puts it succinctly: “The exercise environment we live in continues to be so dynamic and fluid that productive changes have to be taking place constantly. Reinvestment in equipment and facilities is an absolute necessity in the health and fitness business.”

Training systems and consumer tastes change more quickly than ever these days. As mentioned, the popularity of HIIT, boot camp, heart-zone training, and group X is still growing. More to the point, the cardio units your members prefer have also changed over the years.

A great example of this is stair climbing machines. Climbers have undergone a resurgence in popularity over the last three years, while treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bicycles have lost some influence. According to the latest IHRSA research, the use of stair climbing machines has recently grown by 27%, the highest increase of any equipment usage.

Why an Upgraded Climber Purchase May Be Your Best Investment

Equipment supplier TRUE Fitness has created a next-level stairclimber that satisfies this demand for a premium climber experience. TRUE’s Palisade Climber offers the most advanced safety and performance standards available. These include:

  • a double-breaking system;
  • the deepest step in the industry;
  • photo-interrupt safety sensors;
  • adjustable fixed transportation wheels;
  • high-tech consoles that provide updated digital and entertainment options.

Your members will love the Palisade Climber for multiple reasons. Its ease of use and safety features will appeal to exercisers of all ages and abilities. And climbers can deliver a more efficient workout than other types of cardio units. A recent study found that small “snacks” of stair climbing exercise can make a big difference in a person’s cardiorespiratory health. Short, intense workouts are what your members are looking for. This climber can give them that experience.

The Palisade Climber has a modern sleek design that will give your club brand an image upgrade along with a performance upgrade. Its compact frame will also take up less space on your cardio floor than older climbers and other types of cardio machines. And not only is the Palisade Climber durable and engineered for heavy use, it’s backed by TRUE’s award-winning support team, who will make sure your equipment is maintained and serviced quickly and efficiently.

To learn more about the Palisade Climber, visit the TRUE Fitness website. Also stay up to date with TRUE by following them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org