Vacuum Cleaners: How To Choose What’s Right For Your Gym

Where do you even begin when it comes to vacuums? I’m sure you all have more experience than me, but have you tried to google it? It’s hard to understand and sift through the millions of websites with reviews and price comparisons. Carpeting is a large investment. A good vacuum will maintain the quality of the carpet, as well as keep the air and equipment free of dust. This is really important to allergy sufferers and your gym’s overall reputation.

After doing some research and talking to several Jackrabbit customers who own gyms across the states, I compiled a list of questions to ask yourself when you’re in the market for a new vacuum. Leave your feedback in the comments below the post. If I missed something, let me know. I’m sure you won’t be the only one with questions and opinions.

1- How much chalk does your gym go through?

This should be a rather simple answer and maybe a bit of common sense, but still ask yourself how much chalk your students use. Keeping the gym clean is very important for your reputation and customer retention. Some gyms use a lot of chalk, so their requirements for a vacuum will be higher than one that doesn’t use a lot of chalk. Chalk seems to be the biggest factor to determining the life of your vacuum cleaner. If you’re expecting a small vacuum to clean a large facility full of chalk, it may not last as long as you hoped. Have an idea of how much stuff this vacuum is going to be picking up.

2- Who will be using the vacuums?

Who is going to be responsible for the vacuuming? Will an employee be doing it? Are they responsible? One customer mentioned that their employees either really don’t know how to empty the vacuum cleaners or they pretend that they don’t know how. They wait for someone else to clean out the filters. If this is you, keep that in mind as well. Maybe you can have someone checking the filters regularly. Just think, is this going to take a few years off the life of your vacuum? Also, consider having a cleaning company come into the gym regularly to use a commercial vacuum on the place. That may  be a good solution to making sure your gym is clean and the air is as chalk-free as possible while saving money by using a non-commercial vacuum on a daily basis.

3- How often are you using the vacuum?

Think about your cleaning cycle for the gym. Do you vacuum every day, every other day, every week? Vacuuming more regularly could help someone keep up with maintenance on the filters, bags, etc. This way, they can clean the vacuum often and avoid overstuffing the vacuum with dirt and chalk. On the other hand, vacuuming more regularly could wear the vacuum out faster. How do you decide how often to vacuum?

4- Bagless or bag?

In the last 10 years or so, bagless vacuums have become very popular because bags are not required. Most people believe they can eliminate the hassle and expense of having to purchase bags once or twice a year if they have a bagless vacuum. While these vacuums don’t require bags, they still require filters so don’t be fooled! In some cases, the filters can be as expensive as bags. Make sure you do some research on these types of costs that aren’t upfront. If you do go with a bagless model, you want to make sure a) emptying the canister is relatively easy to do and b) a filtration system helps keep dirt trapped inside the canister both during cleaning and once you remove it, so all the dirt doesn’t come flying out.  Some will argue that cleaning, replacing the filters on bagless vacuums may require as much expense as buying and replacing bags.

Vacuum cleaners with paper bags are easier and possibly more convenient to empty since the dirt is contained in the bag and fine dust does not escape back into the air when emptied. They do require regular purchases of bags and sometimes filters.

5- How does it filter the air?

All vacuum cleaners have a filter that cleans the air. The level of effectiveness varies across models and brands. There is a high-efficiency particular air standard known as HEPA; this means they have been shown to capture 99.97% of pollen.  So you have two concerns here: one is how to get the chalk and dirt up off the floor and the other is considering what is going back into the air. It’s a good thing to understand how all of the vacuum filters work before purchasing.

One of the vacuums I researched was a ProTeam – it has a 4 level filtration system with a HEPA filter. They claim to pick up anything .3 microns or larger to ensure you have the cleanest environment possible. If you want to get a little more information, I looked up how big [or small] dust is. Here is a list of a wide range of particles [like dust, bacteria, viruses, etc] and their particle size. This vacuum looks to be under $500 where most other industrial HEPA vacuums can be $1,000+.

PS – One of Jackrabbit’s customers uses only commerical vacuums in the gym that do not require disposable bags.  The Windsor Wave 30″ is a life saver (refurbished from Ebay $1,000)  Saves both time and money.

On the flip side, another customer said: When we first opened in 1999, we purchased an expensive vacuum thinking it would stand up to the chalk. To our surprise, it did not.  We have spent less overall on less expensive vacuums than we would have had we stuck to the original expensive brand. My cleaning company uses a commercial vacuum which seems to have lasted several years. Their machine is a bag system.

6- What type of surfaces?

Since there are different types of surfaces that you’ll need to keep clean in the gym, start thinking about them. There could be different vacuums you use for different surfaces. One customer mentioned that they normally have have 2 to 3 vacuums in the gym at all times plus a shop vac for heavy chalk areas. That way, the shop vac can be used just for chalk areas and the other vacuum can be used for the office or other areas with a low amount of chalk.

One customer uses a commercial vacuum in the gym with a Samsonite regular size vac for rugs and tight areas and the Pro-Team Super Coach back pack vacuum. With this combo, you will have all of your surfaces covered and machines that will hold up to heavy duty use.

If you don’t want to purchase separate vacuums, maybe think about what kind of addons you might need to have to get to different places.

7- Decide how much you want to spend.

This may be the most important question you ask yourself. I didn’t put it first on the list because sometimes we get caught up in the prices and don’t the other components. Buying a vacuum or vacuums is a big deal and expense for your gym. Keeping it clean is important and you don’t want to continuously find yourself at square one wondering what you should do. So, do you go with the more expensive vacuum and hope it lasts and can be covered under warranty? After the warranty is up, how much will maintenance cost? How easy is it to get the parts? Or do you buy a cheaper version but may have to replace more often and possibly get multiple? Share in the comments how you decide.

8 – How big is it?

Think about where your vacuum will live when you aren’t using it. This may be a large factor in your decision because there is a lack of storage space. Make sure to ask yourself this question so you can have the vacuum put away.

Share how you decide what type of vacuum to buy for your gym or ask questions to others!

Here are a few more comments from Jackrabbit customers:

-We spent 850 each for 2 eurekas – had them for 3 years- solid. Vacuum stores are the place to go for a purchase like this.
– I have gone with the really expensive ones and the ones you can pick up on sale at BJ’s. The chalk seems to kill them all. Stick with the cheap ones. If you can, pick the one with the slightly 16-18 inch wide beater bar.
-Cheap ones and replace them every few months. I’ve done both and the chalk destroys them all!!! Save your money.
-I have done 13 years of serious research, trial and error on this and have a good strong opinion on it. sebo x5 is the clear best option and the only vacuums I use anymore. they last for at least 5+ years, can be repaired easily (if even needed) and do better on CBF than anything else I’ve used. like any vacuum you will want to clean it out regularly but this one is easy to clean. Never buy a vacuum from a target or box store.


Cleaning Tips to Address Your Customer’s Top Priorities

Some parts of owning your own business are fun, some are not. Cleaning may be one of those things that fall into the ‘no fun’ category but they are vital to your business. Germs are everywhere – and not just the cooties that your students may claim their peers have. We’re talking about serious germs here that can be dangerous for the health of your students.

At the Wings Center, Amber Uriarte (Marketing Manager) put together a strict set of guidelines for cleaning. Putting a list of procedures together has really helped keep all of our employees on the same page. Everybody can reference this list and know how to clean and disinfect.

There are a lot of resources out there for information about cleaning. I have gone to several including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to put together the Wings Center Facility Cleaning Standards and Procedures.

For starters, knowing the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting is huge. Sometimes these terms are used as if they mean the same thing, but they are not the same.

Sanitizer is a product that reduces germs on inanimate surfaces to levels considered safe by public health codes or regulations. A sanitizer may be appropriate to use on food contact surfaces (dishes, utensils, cutting boards, high chair trays), toys that children may place in their mouths, and pacifiers.Disinfectant is a product that destroys or inactivates germs on an inanimate object. A disinfectant may be appropriate to use on non-porous surfaces such as diaper change tables, counter tops, door and cabinet handles, and toilets and other bathroom surfaces.

Now, when you’re disinfecting you must provide the proper tools for your employees.
The key is to clean effectively, disinfectant where required and sanitize where required. You can’t do all
effectively for every square inch of a facility so you need to clean as per traffic and contact patterns.
Use color-coded (see code references above) microfiber cloths in restrooms, counters, windows and a
variety of other places.
If you use microfiber on a surface, it gets about 98 percent of the bacteria. Knowing the proper way to
use microfiber, you will be able to cut down on chemical usage

This next part about caring for our children is very important. At the end of the day, cleaning and disinfecting may be a pain but in the big picture it is protecting the children.

Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards 444
Treat urine, stool, vomit, blood, and body fluids, except for human milk, as potentially infectious.
Spills of body fluid should be cleaned up and surfaces disinfected immediately.
For small amounts of urine and stool on smooth surfaces,
● wipe off and clean away visible soil with a little detergent solution. Then rinse the surface with
clean water.
● Apply a disinfectant following the manufacturer’s instructions.
For larger spills on floors, or any spills on rugs or carpets:
● Wear disposable gloves while cleaning. Disposable gloves should be used when blood may be
present in the spill;
● Take care to avoid splashing any contaminated material onto the mucous membranes of your
eyes, nose or mouth, or into any open sores you may have;
● Wipe up as much of the visible material as possible with disposable paper towels and carefully
place the soiled paper towels and other soiled disposable material in a leak-proof, plastic bag that
has been securely tied or sealed. Use a wet/dry vacuum on carpets, if such equipment is
● Immediately use a detergent, or a combination detergent/disinfectant to clean the spill area. Then
rinse the area with clean water. Additional cleaning by shampooing or steam cleaning the
contaminated surface may be necessary;
For blood and body fluid spills on carpeting
● Blot to remove body fluids from the fabric as quickly as possible.
● Then disinfect by spot-cleaning with a combination detergent/disinfectant, and shampooing, or
steam-cleaning the contaminated surface.
● If directed by the manufacturer’s instructions, dry the surface.
● Discard disposable gloves.
Mops and other equipment used to clean up body fluids should be:
● Color coded
● Cleaned with detergent and rinsed with water.● Rinsed with a fresh disinfectant solution.
● Wrung as dry as possible.
● Air-dried.
● Wash your hands afterward, even though you wore gloves.
● Remove and bag clothing (yours and those worn by children) soiled by body fluids.
● Put on fresh clothes after washing the soiled skin and hands of everyone involved.

Selecting an Appropriate Sanitizer or Disinfectant
One of the most important steps in reducing the spread of infectious diseases in child care settings is
cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting surfaces that could possibly pose a risk to children or staff. Routine
cleaning with detergent and water is the most useful method for removing germs from surfaces in the
childcare setting. However, some items and surfaces require an additional step after cleaning to further
reduce the number of germs on a surface to a level that is unlikely to transmit disease.

Do you have a similar cleaning procedure in place for your gym? Share your comments and experiences below. I’d love to chat with you more.