Whether your gym is bare bones or a high-tech facility with props on top of props, you’re going to need to upgrade your equipment at some point. Typical wear and tear is to be expected, but there are other things to keep in mind besides just the look of things.

Alycea Ungaro, the owner and founder of Real Pilates, says that certain exercises with equipment, Pilates specifically, can be dangerous if equipment is not in tiptop shape. And, she warns, it can also lead you down the long road of lawsuits.

“Our machines need constant maintenance,” she says. “We have a regular schedule and we recently started working with a Pilates engineering company that does maintenance once a month by cleaning the tracks on reformers and rotating or replacing springs.”

Even if unmaintained equipment is still safe enough to use, it’s defeating the purpose of why clients come to your studio. Every bit of overuse can impact the results of a workout.

“If you’re not getting maximum resistance then you will hamper and reduce your results,” Ungaro says. “So in order to avoid having to replace them frequently, we rotate them so they get more uniform wear and tear since some springs can be more worn than others depending on the routine.”

When it is time to fix a machine, it can take patience. Ungaro says sometimes zippers on workout clothes can cause tears in the carriages of machines that can’t always be fixed in house. When that—or another more intense issue—occurs, equipment must be sent back to the manufacturer, which can take up to three weeks.

With a three week absence, Ungaro will use machines at her other locations as substitutes. But that impacts her branding and image; at Real Pilates in Tribeca, the machines all have a custom sky blue color, while in Soho, they’re steel grey. Just another reminder of why regular maintenance is so important. As a general best practice, studio owners should implement a weekly check of equipment to make sure everything is in tip-top shape.

Ungaro suggests working with an outside team that keeps a checklist of maintenance so every single base is covered. It can be costly, but Ungaro says it’s worth it.

“We pay a fixed fee per month that includes springs or clips or minor repair plus general upkeep, replacement of wheels, grassing of tracks, you name it,” she says.

If something needs to be fixed that isn’t covered in the monthly fee, she pays extra.

The cost of an engineering company varies depending on the size of your studio, how much equipment you have and general needs, but most companies are willing to work and negotiate a quote you’re comfortable with in order to make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

Companies like Top Gun Pilates Engineering specialize in reformers, springs and similar products. But be sure to ask your equipment provider about maintenance when you purchase it or even after, since they may have specific companies in your area that they suggest using. Many companies offer variations of services. Chicago’s Barry Services, for example, will fix things on site or set up a regular maintenance schedule. Cost is dependent on many factors, but to Ungaro, it’s worth it.

“You could say it’s extensive, but what’s the cost of having a law suit?”

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