March 15th, 2012 was the compliance date for using the new 2010 ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards for new construction, alterations, program accessibility, and barrier removal. These new standards contain elements that were not in the original 1991 standards and include public accommodations.
I am sure you are asking yourself, what is a public accommodation? Under ADA definition, a public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases, or leases to, a place of public accommodation. This means that both a landlord who leases space in a building to a tenant, and the tenant who operates a place of public accommodations, are responsible for removing barriers. To be defined as a place of public accommodation, a facility must fall into at least 1 of 12 categories. Categories include a wide range of entities like places of lodging, service establishments, and places of exercise or recreation.
Now that we have established what a public accommodation is and have identified that fitness centers are categorized as a place of public accommodation, you are probably wondering what the guidelines are for removing barriers in your fitness center. To remove barriers, the ADA calls for equipment to have an accessible route to at least one type of each unique piece of exercise equipment. An accessible route is considered to be a clear space at a minimum of 30” wide by 48” long where a person in a wheel chair could position themselves for transfer to the equipment. For example, if a fitness center has five treadmills, three cross trainers, one upright bike and one recumbent bike, the ADA would call for one treadmill, one cross trainer, one upright bike and one recumbent bike to be accessible. For strength equipment, since each piece is considered unique, each piece has to be accessible following the new ADA standards.
Advanced Exercise (AE), the largest commercial distributor of fitness equipment in the west, has been working diligently with clients to help ensure that their fitness centers are ADA compliant. Ryan Lenderman, an AEE sales consultant specializing in the Colorado hospitality market, says, “Sometimes it is a challenge to get existing facilities compliant since they have accumulated so much equipment over the years. Many of these fitness centers do not have adequate space to meet these new regulations, so we have to create solutions that offer the same workout options with fewer machines.”
AEE’s recent work at a local hotel is a great example of removing barriers, ensuring that their fitness center is now ADA compliant. According to AEE, it wasn’t that their facility had equipment that needed replacing; they just had too much equipment for the space. AEE sat down with the director of engineering at the hotel and really looked at which strength machines were being used and which exercises the guests enjoyed most. After the evaluation process, AEE came back with some layout options for the hotel to review. These options included the new Life Fitness Cable Motion dual adjustable pulley machine which allows for multiple exercises from the same machine and really seemed to make sense for the hotel. They also removed the pieces that weren’t being utilized to create more space. The end result was a safer workout room that maximized the guest experience at the hotel.
Kent Collins, Director of National Accounts at Life Fitness, says they were extremely busy leading up to the March 15th ADA deadline. They have done close to a thousand revised layouts for customers including Marriott, Starwood, and Hyatt over the past months. Greg Leonard, the General Manager at the Grand Hyatt Denver, was one of these customers. Greg quoted, “With the expansion of the fitness center at Grand Hyatt Denver, we worked extensively with Advanced Exercise Equipment. Their efforts made the installation of an expansive and varied selection of exercise equipment much faster and more efficient. AEE is safety conscious and well versed in the detailed requirements that make a facility ADA compliant. We felt confident working with AEE during our expansion and now again to meet the new ADA standards.”
To ensure that your fitness center is ADA compliant, contact Advanced Exercise at 800.520.1112 x 1009 to set up a complimentary on-site evaluation with one of their trained sales consultants. To learn more about products and services offer by AE please visit www.advancedexercise.com.