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Planning an Onsite Fitness Facility

According to a 2015 study conducted by SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management) 70% of companies surveyed provide wellness programs to their employees. Wellness programs are a great way to give back to your employees and have been shown to improve morale and foster a positive company culture.

Programs that fall under the umbrella of “Wellness” are very diverse and can include onsite fitness centers. Companies with onsite fitness centers report reduced absenteeism and sick leave which leads to increased productivity. Providing a place for employees to work out saves them the time of making an extra trip to the gym, encourages a work/life balance, and can be that extra perk that helps employee retention and recruitment.

So while that gives some good reasons why you may consider an onsite fitness facility for your business, there is a lot of planning and financial investment that goes into it.

How Much Space Will You Need?

  • The American College of Sports Medicine recommends providing 40-50 square feet per person working out. Fitness centers typically find that 50% of their members use the facility 2 times per week or more. So for an office size of 100, you can expect approximately 50 employees to be using the gym regularly. Naturally, not all of them will be using the facility or equipment at the same time.

  • Let’s say you have a 500 square foot space you’d like to utilize. You will need to calculate the maximum capacity of the room. Using the 50 square feet per person rule, your maximum capacity at any given time would be 10 people.

  • If you are building new space, you’ll need to know anticipated participation rates in order to plan the appropriate size. Using the 50% participation rate can give you an idea of what the usage might look like, remembering that not everyone will be using it at the same time.

  • If people are working out prior to work hours or on their lunch break, do you have locker room facilities for those who will want to shower? Can you provide individuals with sufficient privacy? It’s one thing to have more of a communal locker room area in a local gym or rec center, but do you really want to sit in a meeting with someone you just ran into while you were in your towel after your post workout shower?

What Equipment Will You Be Providing?

  • When searching for equipment, be sure to look for commercial grade items. You want equipment that will hold up over time and be able to take consistent use. Generally commercial exercise equipment runs more quietly.

  • Be sure to have basic cardio equipment like treadmills or elliptical machines. Most people find these nonthreatening and have used them before.

  • You should also provide some strength training equipment; hand weights as well as machines. A comprehensive fitness program includes strength building as well as cardio. Look for machines that can work a variety of muscle groups to get the most bang for your buck when purchasing equipment.

  • In addition, there are miscellaneous pieces of equipment to consider; stability balls, yoga mats, exercise bands, and medicine balls for example.

  • Finally, decide if you are going to offer any group fitness classes. This may be an opportunity to bring in a yoga instructor or provide your staff with someone who can teach them some basic self-defense.

What Will the Financial Investment Be?

  • Will you have to have construction work done? Even if you have the available space, you need to ensure you have the proper ventilation, electricity, and plumbing to support an onsite gym. Construction costs can run anywhere from $100 to $200 (or more in some areas) per square foot depending on the type of work that needs to be done. This does not include the purchase of any equipment.

  • Commercial quality treadmills, elliptical machines and strength training machines can start at approximately $2,000 per machine and run as high as $10,000. A set of hand weights can cost between $300 and $1,800 (depending on the package size).

  • Decide whether you will be hiring a fitness management company to help you plan the space. Will you then keep them on to help maintain the space? You have the responsibility to provide a safe facility for those employees who are using it so there will be ongoing costs associated with keeping it that way.

How Will You Manage the Company Liability?

  • Employees should sign liability waivers prior to using the onsite fitness facility.

  • Clearly defined policies and procedures regarding gym use should be created and made clear to the entire company. It is important that the use of the gym is not seen as a required part of the job.

  • If you decide to do a pre-activity health screening you need to be sure those records are kept according to HIPAA requirements.

There can be many benefits to having a fitness facility at the office, but it’s not as easy as throwing a few treadmills in a room for your employees to use. A well-crafted and thought out plan can be the difference between the office gym being a successful part of your employee wellness program or just having a room of unused gym equipment. Since this is a significant financial investment, next week we’ll discuss ways to promote your gym to ensure you are getting value on your investment.

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