May 30, 2014

2014 APER Membership Survey

Executive Summary June 2, 2014

During March 2014, a survey was conducted of all student and non-student members of the Caltech gym. We had an overall response rate of 37%, with 1065 non-student members and 613 students responding within the one month window.  The two groups closely mirror each other in their overall perspective and suggestions.    The office of Institutional research collaborated with the athletic director on setting up the questions and format, and ultimately administered the survey.  In addition to the terrific response rate, the richness of the feedback is helpful. Thank you to all who participated!

We are pleased to report that 85% of students and 80% of non-student members gave a good or excellent rating for their overall Caltech Fitness Center experience.  While we are tremendously grateful for and proud of that kind of rating, we do not take it for granted. We also read and considered your feedback, comments and suggestions. We have summarized the large volume of these written comments in the groupings below; a table of the results from the multi-choice questions can be found at the end of the document. The survey information will assist our current operation as well as planning for the future as we strive to operate the best facility and programs possible.

As you know, membership fees are being directly invested in the facilities and equipment at the Athletic Center.  Your input can be readily incorporated in these areas.  However, suggestions involving programming may be more difficult to implement immediately because they rely on staff and infrastructure support that is separately funded by the Institute.  As always please see Betsy, John or Heather with thoughtful suggestions or questions

Comment Summary

Strength Equipment: Almost 60% of the respondents use our weight rooms and strength equipment.  The largest group of requests was for more, different, and newer core strength training devices. (Members will see this kind of equipment increasing where space allows.) The second largest group of requests was to replace two very specific machines that were removed for of safety reasons.  (The decline abdominal bench and bicep curl; both are slated to be replaced.) The next largest group of requests was to replace and refresh exercise mats, bands, free weight bars and collars, and to improve and increase the amount of free weight plates.  (These are all part of the equipment replacement plan currently being implemented)

Cardio Data:  Almost 50% of the respondents stated that they use our cardio equipment, making this the largest single use area of our operation. Approximately 100 respondents gave specific feedback about the types of cardio we should purchase.  The greatest desire was for more and different elliptical machines, more and newer rowing ergometers, and additional spin bikes. We have already incorporated this feedback into the cardio replacement rotation for this year.

Fitness Classes:  Our survey response indicates that a smaller portion of our community takes advantage of the group fitness class offering than uses the cardio or strength equipment. Among respondents taking the classes, there is a feeling that early morning and evening classes might better suit their needs.  For us, the largest barriers to more offerings or later class offerings is finding space to hold classes and dollars to pay instructors.  The most frequent suggestion of these respondents was to increase the number of yoga classes offered, followed by indoor cycling and Pilates type classes. A smaller group listed more strength and aerobics classes as desirable.  Overall, the responses indicated how members are unaware of the types of fitness classes currently offered, so this is an education and communication issue. 

Additional Types of Exercise Space and Activities Suggested

•    Overwhelmingly large response was to add dedicated stretching or mat work space. We suggest and welcome using the MPR or racquetball courts for these kinds of activities.
•    The current need for more multipurpose room space or rooms for group recreational activities was frequently mentioned.  
•    A need for more general space was noted. With so many people participating, more dedicated space for cardio, weight training and other types of activities is needed. Our current facility is used to the maximum during high traffic times of 12-1pm and 4-7pm.
•    Largest group requested weight or cardio training orientation or educational sessions which we have are planning.
•    Next largest group was interested in adult swim classes, instruction or assistance. We already have several formats available so this is an education/communication issue.
•    Adult leagues for basketball, volleyball, soccer and group lessons or a competitive ladder in tennis, squash and racquetball were also suggested. We are open to the these as space allows.
•    A grouping of requests for health, nutrition, aging, sleep, stress community educational programs.  In January of 2014, we began a general monthly educational programming series so this feedback can help us put responsive programs into that series.

General Comments
•    A large number of the responses registered displeasure with the recently changed fee structure. Misunderstandings about where the money is going and why fees where needed were common.
•    A large portion of the respondents wrote about displeasure with the men’s locker room quality, the nuisance of displacement while the women’s locker room was upgraded, and the terrible shape of Brown locker room in general.

The following table summarizes the numerical responses to the survey questions (PDF Version).