The Preventive Approach to Equipment Maintenance – A Guide for Gym Owners

Gym equipment may seem like a big investment, but it can last you long with regular servicing and maintenance. When well cared for, strength training equipment and cardio machines can stay functional for as many as 10 to 15 years. Even commercial-grade exercise bikes can remain in good condition for at least 7 to 10 years with proper upkeep.

The variety of parts that make up fitness equipment need to be individually examined and maintained regularly. Well-functioning cables, pulleys, and bolts ensure any gym machine’s smooth operation while increasing its life. To maximize its performance and longevity, don’t wait to see any faults in your machine before you get it serviced. Preventive maintenance is necessary to save you significant repair costs while reducing the risk of injury from malfunctioning equipment.  

Read our detailed guide below to know all about the maintenance requirements of gym machines.

Table of Contents

Reasons for Preventive Maintenance of Fitness Equipment

Apartment Fitness Studios

It’s common for apartments and condos nowadays to have state-of-the-art fitness centers. You’re expected to have fully functional equipment that is clean and safe to use. Some health-conscious people may even decide to live in an apartment based on the condition of its gym.

Routine servicing of equipment is essential to avoid any inconvenience to your tenants and save major repair costs.

School Gymnasiums

On-site college or university gyms have long working hours with an influx of users throughout the day. The frequent usage of fitness equipment by multiple users makes it more likely to undergo wear and tear. Non-functional workout units closed off for repairs can strike a bad impression on visitors to your campus. Damaged equipment can also risk your students’ safety, so you must make sure to keep a check on all machines.

Hotel Fitness Centers

With increasing competition in the hospitality business, premium hotel chains are continuously working on upgrading their facilities. A well-maintained, if not luxurious, health club can add tremendous value to your image. On the contrary, a poorly kept fitness facility can hurt your reputation in this challenging industry. Following a preventive maintenance schedule can boost your reviews online while attracting more guests to stay at your hotel.

Corporate Gyms

A company gym can be a great perk for your employees. It can keep them motivated and encourage a healthy work-life balance, if only it’s fully functional. Poorly kept equipment can have the opposite effect, frustrating your employees, and damaging your company image in case of accidents.

Commercial Health Clubs

For commercial gym owners, the more memberships they sell, the more maintenance their equipment will need. After all, they’ll have a reputation to maintain, not to mention the increased frequency of equipment use. Check regularly for any wearing or signs of breakdown, and get the faults fixed as soon as you spot them.

Frequent servicing and caring for machines without any apparent faults are best for maximizing their durability. Neglected equipment will only cause you to lose members and also carries safety risks in the long run.

The Recommended Maintenance Schedule for Fitness Equipment

In general, fitness equipment experts recommend getting your machines serviced after every 250 hours of functioning. This will usually be enough to ensure safe use and enhance equipment life.

Of course, you can’t precisely time your equipment’s usage to know when those 250 hours are completed and maintenance is due. Most owners of leading gyms carry out specific maintenance procedures after a span of one, two, or six months, and some after a year. This makes things convenient for both the staff and gym members, avoiding any mishaps or unexpected and costly equipment breakdown.

The Importance of Hiring Professionals for Preventive Maintenance

You don’t always need professional help to keep your equipment in good shape. Whether you should hire a maintenance team depends on how big your facility is.

We recommend appointing experts mainly for large gyms with a lot of machines that require regular upkeep. It’s possible to maintain medium and small-sized gyms on your own to reduce your expenses.

Irrespective of your gym size, it’s essential that you are yourself familiar with the necessary cleaning and maintenance requirements. Below we have some in-depth preventive maintenance checklists so you can make sure you cover all aspects of equipment maintenance.

Essential Factors of Routine Equipment Maintenance

Commercial-grade gym machines are built to last, but regular care is required on your part. Due to the everyday wear and tear these machines undergo from several different users, preventive maintenance is essential. Generally, the following procedures are part of routine equipment servicing:

  • Lubrication
  • Oil changes
  • Bearing changes
  • Replacing damaged cables
  • Deck replacements
  • Seat upholstery maintenance
  • Rust management by powder coating
  • more…

A to Z Equipment Maintenance Checklists

Below we have compiled some detailed checklists for the most common types of gym machines. As of 2020, we have included some additional cleaning recommendations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Treadmills

Take out some time to inspect your treadmill and treat it with routine maintenance procedures. This will make sure you get fair use out of it without needing any expensive damage repair.

What-to-look-for-when-buying-a-treadmill

At least once a day or between workouts,

  • Clean the treadmill console.
  • Clean the start/stop buttons.
  • Clean the safety cord.
  • Wipe the handrails.
  • Wipe down the heart rate grips.
  • Clean any holders or accessory trays.

At least once a week,

  • Clean all the exposed surfaces. With a clean, dry cloth, wipe the tread belt and running deck. Use a moist, lint-free cloth to wipe the frame and console, then let it dry before allowing use.
  • Soak a damp, lint-free cloth in a diluted 1:1 91% isopropyl alcohol solution to wipe the touch screen on the treadmill unit’s console. Allow it to fully dry.
  • Ensure proper alignment of the tread belt.
  • Inspect all control buttons to ensure proper functioning.
  • Check if the unit is level with the floor.
  • Switch off the machine by unplugging the cord from its power outlet.
  • Examine the power cord for any signs of damage or coiling underneath the unit.
  • Vacuum the floor underneath the machine.
  • Confirm if the safety lanyard is working and in place.

At least once a month,

  • Wipe down the tread belt with a damp cloth and clean the pulley and drive belt with a small wire brush.
  • Adjust the running belt’s tension according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and ensure proper lubrication and alignment.
  • Inspect the drive belt for misalignment or any signs of wear.
    • Elevate the tread to its highest level and vacuum under it.
    • Examine the power cord for any breaks or flat spots.
    • Make sure all shroud screws are adequately tight.
  • Critically examine the belt and running deck. Confirm whether the belt is fit for use or if it needs replacement.
  • Ensure secure installation of the power cord clamp. Check for any signs of damage on the cord and if it has moved underneath the unit.
  • Give it a test run to confirm the proper functioning of all features.
  • Examine all welds, frames, and wire connections in view.

Every three months,

  • Check the performance of your treadmill’s shock absorption system.
  • Examine and lubricate the rollers.
  • Inspect all fittings, welds, and bushings where needed.
  • Have a look at all wires, cables, and contact points wherever needed.
  • Examine all electric connections.
  • Lubricate the belt, treadmill deck, and elevation screw.
  • Tighten screws and bolts where needed.
  • Inspect the tension, alignment, and tracking of the tread belt. Make adjustments where needed.
  • Detach the hood and clean the compartment and motor fan with a vacuum.
  • Examine the software to confirm the proper functioning of the LED and odometer.
  • Wipe down the heart rate grips.
  • Verify the heart rate monitors by ensuring accurate readings of both the wireless and handheld sensors.

Every six months,

  • Look for any maintenance recommendations after a specific mileage by the manufacturer in the user’s manual.
  • Lubricate the deck.
  • If relevant, inspect the drive motor brushes.
  • Ensure adequate lubrication of the lift motor jackscrew.
  • Ensure proper functioning of the speed sensors.
  • Inspect all electrical wiring and connectors.
  • Critically examine the software to ensure proper LED function and accurate odometer readings.

Annually,

  • Check the belts and decks for any signs of wear, damage, or exposed wood.
  • Check whether the grips and cables are in good condition or need replacement due to wear.

Pro Tips

  1. Treadmill decks should be frictionless for proper functioning, so you need to clean and lubricate them properly. If you feel like the deck isn’t running smoothly, unplug the treadmill and wipe the edge of the belt and frame gently with a damp cloth. Spray some lubricant on a towel and wipe it down to decrease friction.
  2. Wiping the belt with a cleaning solution or detergent is not recommended since it will clear away the lubricant.
  3. If you notice any misalignment of the belt, bring it back to the center to ensure straight running. You might need a technician to replace it if it still keeps getting pulled to the side.

Ellipticals

Almost all gyms have an elliptical, a popular fitness machine for cardio and lower body strength. Ellipticals are, therefore, likely to see multiple users throughout the day, which warrants frequent maintenance. Any ignorance on your part can cost you high amounts for replacement or repair of expensive components. 

Elliptical-Trainer-Tips-for-Buying

At least once a day or between workouts,

  • Confirm smooth functioning.
  • Clean the elliptical console.
  • Wipe down the heart rate grips.
  • Clean the moving handles on both sides.
  • Clean all the accessory holders.
  • Clean the pedals.
  • Dust off the ramp covering.

At least once a week,

  • Make sure all visible surfaces are clean.
  • Soak a soft cloth with a cleaning solution to wipe the unit. Avoid spraying the solution directly.
  • Scrub the foot pedal grooves with a soft nylon brush.
  • Wipe the electric console portion with a damp, gentle cloth and allow it to dry.
  • Use a 1:1 91% Isopropyl alcohol solution to soak a lint-free cloth and wipe down the touch screen console.
  • Ensure that the unit is level with the ground.
  • Ensure smooth movement of the pedals and handles.
  • Inspect the display for proper functioning.
  • Check out the visible wire connections, welds, and frame.
  • Clean under the unit with a vacuum.

At least once a month,

  • Give a thorough vacuuming to the interior and exterior.
  • Check the machine for any unusual noises while functioning.
  • Inspect the electric connections.
  • Examine all the nuts and bolts.
  • Check out the power cord and make sure it’s not pinched under the machine.
  • Inspect the torque setting on the crank arm and pillow blocks.
  • Lubricate the lift motor screw if needed.
  • Detach the back covers and use a low static vacuum to clean around the electronic board.
  • Clean the pulleys and drive belts.
  • Confirm the smooth running of the wheels over the ramp.
  • Use an approved solution for cleaning the wheels and ramp.
  • Track the hours of use.

Every three months,

  • Inspect the bolts at all pivot points.
  • Clean and lubricate all pivot points.
  • Polish and clean the ramps.
  • Ensure proper software functioning.
  • Record the hours of usage.
  • Check the battery voltage.
  • Examine the belts for signs of wear and adjust the tension if needed.
  • Use synthetic grease for lubricating the lift motor jackscrew.

Every six months,

  • Perform an in-depth analysis of software functioning, including LED and the odometer reading.
  • Test out all the programs and settings for validity.
  • Examine the step-up and drive belts for any signs of wear or damage such as cracking or fraying.
  • Ensure proper functioning of the speed sensors.
  • Check out all the wiring and connectors.

Pro Tips

  1. If your elliptical’s display stops functioning, make sure that it is plugged in to a powered outlet, and any switches or safety keys are in the appropriate position. If it still fails to turn on, unplug the machine and check the console for any loose connections. Also, inspect the elliptical parts for signs of breakage or loose screws. A minor adjustment is sometimes all that is needed but call an expert if you can’t figure out the problem.
  2. Keep the console away from direct sunlight and liquids to avoid damage.
  3. Take care when the rear cover is detached. Pinching of fingers between crank arms, stair arms, flywheel spokes, or drive weldments could cause serious injury.

Stepper Machines

These machines have several moving parts that are prone to breakage when not maintained well.

EMS-Stepper-ES800-Gym-fitness-equipment-yanrefitness

At least once a week,

  • Dust down the unit and wipe away dirt.
  • Ensure proper tension.
  • Ensure stable steps that don’t wobble.

Monthly,

  • Thoroughly vacuum from inside out.
  • Inspect electrical connections.
  • Clean the pulleys and belts after removing the shroud.
  • Ensure proper lubrication of any chains.
  • Lubricate all pivot points. 

Every three months,

  • Wipe down the chains with a lint-free cloth.
  • Remove any excess grease from the chains.
  • Wipe any belts.
  • Make sure all linkages are clean and tight.
  • Ensure proper functioning of the display, including accurate readings for speed, time, etc.

Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes come in several forms, including recumbent bikes, upright bikes, and spin bikes. All of them have somewhat variable parts and functioning mechanics. With their increasing popularity, it’s essential to ensure they’re well-maintained and cleaned regularly.

At least once a day or between workouts,

  • Confirm smooth functioning.
  • Clean the stepper console.
  • Wipe down the heart rate grips.
  • Dust off any accessory holders.
  • Wipe the foot pedals and their straps.
  • Clean the seat from the front and back.
  • Wipe the seat adjustment lever. 

At least once a week,

  • Wipe the entire unit.
  • Wipe the electronic console with a gentle, damp cloth and dry before use.
  • Use a 1:1 91% isopropyl alcohol solution to dampen a lint-free cloth and wipe the touch screen console, then allow it to completely dry.
  • Vacuum out any dust underneath the unit.
  • Ensure the correct functioning of the upper display.
  • Examine housing and overlay.
  • Check the condition of the pedals and straps.
  • Inspect the display monitor.
  • Confirm the proper functioning of the heart rate sensors.
  • Confirm the proper functioning of the unit.
  • Examine all visible wire connections, welds, and frames.
  • Make sure the unit sits level with the ground.

At least once a month,

  • Make sure the pedals aren’t making any grinding noise.
  • Inspect all electrical connections.
  • Check belt/chain for signs of wear.
  • Ensure proper lubrication of the bearings and drive chain.
  • Examine and make any necessary adjustments in the crank arm and drive sprocket.
  • Ensure adequate lubrication of all moving components.
  • Use an approved lubricant over all pop-in pin assemblies.
  • Lubricate the seat post after inspection.
  • Check the belt’s tension. Adjust if needed.
  • Calibrate the speed sensors.
  • Confirm the proper functioning of heart rate sensors.
  • Use a low static vacuum to clean around the electronic board after removing covers.
  • Gently dust the drive belts and pulleys using a small wire brush.
  • Ensure the free and smooth functioning of the pedals at the lowest resistance setting.
  • Check the power adapter and make sure its cord isn’t pinched underneath.
  • Test the seat adjustment process for smooth functioning and proper latching.

Every three months,

  • Check the battery voltage.
  • Check if the seat is secure.
  • Check the battery charge voltage.

Every six months,

  • Check if the console needs any positional adjustment and replace its batteries if required.
  • Test the speed sensors.
  • Inspect all connectors and wiring.
  • Check if the brake pad needs replacement.

Pro Tips

  1. Replace a broken belt by removing the plastic covering and pulling it off. Thread a new belt over the wheels and around the bike’s pulleys.
  2. If the resistance feature causes problems such as jerkiness or stalling, you might need to replace the flywheel or adjust any of the resistance elements such as the magnetic field. It’s better to hire an experienced technician for this purpose.

Weight Machines

For sturdy, durable units like Yanre weight machines, a little routine maintenance can go a long way in ensuring user safety and smooth operation.  

At least once a day or between workouts,

  • Confirm smooth functioning.
  • Wipe all surfaces, including the weight pin.
  • Clean the roller pad.
  • Wipe down the seat from the front and back.
  • Clean the seat adjustment handle.

Once a week,

  • Wipe down all exposed surfaces with a clean cloth.
  • Clean under the equipment with a vacuum cleaner.
  • Ensure that the unit is level with the ground.
  • Ensure all bolts are adequately tightened.
  • Check the belts and cables for damage or signs of wear.
  • Note the condition of the handles and grips, especially the connecting points.
  • Check whether all snap links are latching properly or wearing down.
  • Examine all the written labels, such as precautionary warnings or any placards, to ensure proper readability.
  • Make sure the weight stacks are correctly aligned and functional.
  • Clean all guide rods with a cloth and grease with a lightweight motor lubricant.
  • Lubricate all guide rods, bushings, shafts, rod ends, linear bearings, and pop pins.

Once a month,

  • Clean the unit with a cloth.
  • Inspect the machine’s movements to ensure smooth functioning.
  • Examine the cables and their ends. Replace if they show signs of wear.
  • Ensure proper cable tension.
  • Check the condition of all pads and upholstery.
  • Make sure that the weight stack pin tether stays attached to the unit.
  • Ensure whether the instruction placard is attached and readable.

Every three months,

  • Check the cable tension.
  • Ensure smooth and easy seat adjustment.

Every six months,

  • Ensure whether all weight pins are secure.

Annually,

  • Change all belts and cables.

Pro Tips

  • Clean upholstery using products like GymWipes or a diluted 10% dish soap solution in water. Use a mild car wash solution or wipes to clean the frame. Coat chrome tubes and other heavily used areas with car wax to prevent corrosion.
  • Replace any of the supportive parts as soon as they break. If the slat of the bench (the padded part) is damaged, but there’s no warpage, you can retain the bench structure while changing just the slat.
  • Replace even minorly damaged cables ASAP since they’re a significant safety hazard.  

Bonus Tips for Fitness Equipment Maintenance

  1. Keep a logbook or planner that helps you keep up with your routine maintenance schedule. Whether you do most of the work on your own or outsource it, keeping records will ensure you’re not missing anything. Every repair, failure, or servicing treatment should be tracked for every machine.
  2. Before you start maintenance servicing, remove any safety keys, and make sure the machine is powered off.
  3. Don’t clean display screens or plastic parts with harsh solutions to avoid damage.
  4. Use a dry cloth to wipe the electric console. Avoid spraying the cleaner directly; spray it on the fabric, then wipe.
  5. Don’t plug your cardio equipment into a power strip with multiple devices. Reserving a power source exclusively for your treadmill will maximize its performance and durability.
  6. Ensure regular vacuuming under the motor cover of electronic gym machines. This is best done by an expert, but if you’re doing it yourself, allow the machine to rest at least five minutes after you switch it off before beginning your servicing.  
  7. Follow any manufacturer’s recommendations and record those in the maintenance logbook as well to keep your staff and technicians informed.
  8. Exclusively use replacement parts from the machine’s manufacturer. Ask service vendor for manufacturer’s parts if working with them.
  9. For a machine that isn’t self-powered, use surge protectors to avoid equipment damage from power spikes.

Fitness Equipment Troubleshooting

No matter how cautious you are, sometimes it just isn’t enough, and you end up with some troublesome equipment.

If it seems like a minor issue, first go through our equipment checklists. Make sure you haven’t overlooked any aspect of the machine’s maintenance. If that doesn’t work, consult a professional to resolve the problem. You can give them an idea of what issue your equipment is facing so they can visit with the necessary tools.

Conclusion

A preventive maintenance routine is one of the critical factors in ensuring a smooth-running fitness facility. This will help you retain your existing members while bringing in new ones. ‘Out of order’ signs on equipment can strike a lousy impression over your gym image, so do your best to ensure you don’t need them!

Now that you know about regular equipment maintenance, you can avoid repair costs and prevent accidents due to faulty equipment. If there’s something else you think we missed out, add it in the comments below!

Related acticles:

Leave a Reply