The Fitness Network - Interview with Matt Johnson

How to make a small refurbishment budget go a long way

Matt Johnson is the Executive Director of Pulse Design and Build, the division of the Pulse Group responsible for designing, constructing, and fitting out state-of-the-art leisure centres as well as completing full refurbishments of existing facilities. Matt has more than 15 years’ experience working in the construction industry and as a chartered professional. 

We spoke to Matt about: 

– How small investments can be a quick win for facilities
– The benefits of small, aesthetic changes 
– How space reconfiguration can have a big impact
– The benefits of a low-cost refurbishment

When it comes to refurbishments, can you really make an impact with a limited budget?

Absolutely. At Pulse, we work on a lot of smaller projects. Because the big investments make headlines, it’s easy to assume that a big budget is always necessary. However, a more modest price tag can be a quick win for a facility. In fact, we’ve often seen small investments up-front lead to further investments in phased projects down the line. This is a perfect solution for facilities that may be on a tighter budget.

What kinds of changes can you make on a small budget?

Things like equipment upgrades, new ceiling tiles, flooring, and carpets can help. Also, upgraded wall décor and a fresh coat of paint can do wonders.

I’ll give you an example. We worked with De Montfort University in Leicester and for less than £50,000, we were able to completely modernise their facility. We changed the wall colour and added some new décor. We also added new, modern equipment including a selection of new functional training equipment including dumbbells, benches, strength and pulley machines. And finally, we put a fresh coat of paint on the window frames. The facility now looks completely transformed, all within a very reasonable budget.

If you can’t afford new equipment, are there other ways to upgrade the space without incurring a large cost?

Yes. Sometimes we find that a simple reconfiguration of the space is all that’s needed. Things like dated steam rooms, beauty therapy rooms, showers or changing areas with older designs often aren’t very space efficient.  We look at the space as a blank canvas and determine the best way to maximise it. By changing the configuration and adding some new flooring and modern design features, you can easily give a facility an updated look, all while keeping costs low.

What are the benefits of a low-cost refurbishment?

Right away, a refurbishment can help drive increased member acquisition. People will immediately be interested in seeing a renovated space, and much more inclined to join as members if a facility looks new and modern. Equally, retention is also positively impacted with existing members able to reap the benefits of a facility upgrade. Finally, with some great photographs of the updated space, you can also generate some press coverage, and possibly even host a re-opening if the facility had to temporarily close during the refurbishment. All of which is great publicity and can help drive new members into the facility.


Posted in Gyms & Clubs, Interviews, The Fitness Network.