Reviewing the Basics of Gym Management

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I was talking the other day with a friend of mine who manages a gym in New York City. He had recently attended an informal networking meeting for gym managers, and he said they got reviewing the basics of gym management — the fundamental tasks that gym managers should undertake each day to make sure they’re doing what needs to be done. I got him to share his notes with me, and now I’m sharing some of them with you. Nothing here is earth-shattering, but even my friend, who’s been in the field for at least a dozen years, found it useful to have a refresher in the basics. Here’s what the group covered:

  1. The Importance of Walking Around: Every day, gym managers should stroll around their facility, looking at all areas of the gym and consciously seeing the spaces in the way clients and members might. Ask yourself: What problems need fixing here? Does everything look orderly? Is the equipment working properly? Are gym systems functioning as expected? What about the HVAC system? Lighting? Be as detailed in your observations as possible.
  2. The Necessity of the Notepad: With scores of details to keep track of each day, a good gym manager will never be seen without a notepad. During your daily rounds, note down anything that doesn’t meet your usual standards, any ideas you have for improvement, any significant comments you overhear from members, anything at all you think you might want to return to later.
  3. The Usefulness of Checklists: Make sure your notepad contains a checklist that tracks specific items to pay attention to each day. All the equipment working properly? Check. Safety standards being met? Check. Locker rooms and public areas up to cleanliness standards? Check. Let your checklist be a living thing, something that can change and grow each day. Never had “Water fountains functioning properly?” on your checklist before? Time to add it.
  4. The Primacy of the Immediate Problem: As you do your daily walk, some days you will encounter some problems that can’t just be noted down and attended to later – They need immediate attention. For example, if there’s a health or safety issue that could affect a client, it will be necessary to resolve it before moving on to anything else. Be prepared to make the fix yourself or to call on a staff member with the skills and training to do so.
  5. The Beauty of the To-Do List: The best thing about to-do lists is that they remind you of what needs to be done — later (but not too much later). Unlike immediate fixes, to-do items should be gathered in a list in the notepad, and that day or the next day the manager should assign the task to a staff member, give him or her a deadline for accomplishing the task, and follow up on the deadline or the next day to make sure the task has been completed.

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