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Gyms Are Reopening: How Lighting Can Help Gyms Get Back to Business & Reduce Costs

When lockdowns began here in the United States, some of the first facilities ordered to close were gyms. Along with bars and restaurants, gyms are such natural places for close contact between great numbers of people. 

Because of that, and because of how quickly they were ordered to shut down, it was always going to be interesting to see when and how gyms would be allowed to reopen. Well, it’s happening now.

As we enter June, some two and half months since significant lockdowns began in the United States, many states have given a cautious ‘all clear’ to their business communities. To be sure, there are huge changes in store for shoppers and diners returning to their favorite haunts. But the doors are opening.

Among the facilities getting the green light are gyms. For the foreseeable future, though, fitness fans may not really recognize their home away from home.

Getting Fit in the Future

Between media speculation, official guidance, and industry requirements, there are many forces guiding and describing the gyms of tomorrow. Some, like this article, see significant changes in the “how” of working out:

  • Gym-goers would make appointments for time slots, allowing the gym to control the flow of customers
  • Contactless check-in at the front desk
  • Machines spaced out (or powered off in the right pattern) to physically enforce distancing rules
  • No water fountains
  • No showering in gym facilities

Hopefully, such measures will only last for a set amount of time. Even so, they represent a vastly changed experience for customers and employees alike.

While some of the list above no doubt sounds strange, parts of it are already going into effect. In Texas, new government guidelines call for exercise equipment in use to be physically separated from other machines

The Downtown Club

One of those Texas facilities that has just reopened is The Downtown Club in Houston. This Clubcorp property, located in the heart of downtown, is a private social, dining, business, and sports club. 

Members at The Downtown Club come here to enjoy the latest and greatest. Whether that means fine dining in the formal restaurant, world-class golf at the club’s associated properties, or just relaxing in the luxurious spa, The Downtown Club will go to any length to make sure members and their guests feel pampered and special. 

The Downtown Club has two main locations. One, The Met, houses the club’s tennis, racket, and basketball courts, as well as rooms full of workout equipment. Members come here to challenge each other and their guests to competitive play, or simply to play a few games with their families.

Athletes and fitness buffs who are back at The Met are enjoying the facilities, and the changes to the lighting that were made right before the club had to shut its doors a couple months ago.

See the video…

Improving the experience for members

As part of The Downtown Club’s never-ending quest to deliver the ultimate gym and social experience, the club operators at The Met decided they had to do something about their lights.

“What prompted the decision [to upgrade our lighting] was really the request from our members, and wanting them to have a facility they feel comfortable in using.”

Paul Bimler, General Manager, The Downtown Club at the Met

Throughout the facility, The Met’s lights were fading and growing discolored. Instead of white light reflecting off white walls, the club had a brown hue coming from its lights. This made the entire club feel dingy and dark.

Before the LED retrofit at The Met

Of course, that’s especially problematic on a tennis or squash court. The problems didn’t end there, though, as Mr. Bimler went on to describe.

Maintenance-wise, we were constantly changing out ballasts and bulbs,” he said. This is a common feature (and problem) of traditional lighting solutions like that used by The Met.

The fluorescent and HID fixtures which lit the courts and workout rooms wore out extremely quickly, causing maintenance crews to spend an inordinate amount of time putting in new lights.

Massive lifts had to be brought in to reach multiple light fixtures at once. This meant entire courts were blocked for hours (or days) at a time, leaving patrons grumbling.

Maintenance advantage with the new lights

The Downtown Club began to get especially frustrated when large numbers of lights would be replaced rapidly, only for other lights to then immediately fail. The entire cycle of lighting maintenance was simply unsustainable for a facility like The Downtown Club.

FSG worked with The Met location to deliver a lighting retrofit which would solve these problems.

After the retrofit at The Met

All around The Met, LED lights were installed to replace the old, constantly-failing fluorescent and HID fixtures. Of course, LEDs produce light which is far brighter (and much more pleasing to the eye) than The Met’s old lights. Even the staff at The Met was taken aback by how much easier it was to see and work inside the club.

After the Retrofit at The Met

Perhaps most important for The Met, though, was the tremendous maintenance advantage LED lights bring to the table. With usable lives many (many) times longer than that of traditional lighting technologies, LEDs require barely a fraction of the work that would otherwise be necessary. No more blocked tennis courts.

Mr. Bimler couldn’t have been happier. “Members are still raving about [the lights],” he said with a grin.

For The Met, their main pain points were customer experience and maintenance issues before the retrofit. The club hasn’t even been able to enjoy the cost savings yet. But for the rest of the year, they will see lower utility bills which, combined with the lower maintenance spend, will be a silver lining at a time when reducing costs is a huge topic for 2020.

Back to a “new normal”

While many gyms are slowly re-opening around the country, it might be some time before fitness centers are back to normal. In fact, some gyms will have new guidelines in place that will be part of a “new normal“.

How does FSG fit into the new normal for gyms across the U.S.?

First of all, for gym owners considering UV disinfecting lighting solutions to help sanitize their facilities, FSG has UV lighting experts that can get the right solution to help gyms get back to business.

Second, many businesses are looking to recoup some of the losses they have endured during the last couple of months. With lighting making up a large portion of energy bills, FSG can help get the right lighting solutions that will not only improve the experience at facilities, but also reduce energy costs.

FSG can also help businesses find the utility incentives they may qualify for to help pay for a good portion of the project. Lighting-as-a-service is another way to get projects completed now, without upfront costs.

If you have questions about any of the solutions we offer, or how our trusted advisors can help your Gym or Fitness facility get back to business or reduce energy costs, give us a call at (512) 615-6615. We are here to help!

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