It’s not uncommon to find a gym, or at the very least gym equipment, on board a superyacht. But how much do crew really understand about the maintenance of gym equipment? And do crew really understand how they can avoid replacement of equipment and save owners’ money? The Crew Report speaks to Edward Thomas, ex-bosun and director at Gym Company Marine, a company new to the market that supplies gym equipment to superyachts, about what crew can do to improve the life of on-board fitness equipment.

There is one factor concerned with gyms on board superyachts, that isn’t a consideration in land-based gyms, that plays an important factor in equipment maintenance: salt. “Sea spray and the generally high moisture content of sea air, which contains huge levels of rust-causing salt, is the primary cause of kit degradation in fitness equipment,” explains Thomas. With multiple moving parts, regular lubrication is paramount to protect against corrosion and keep the equipment functional for as long as possible. “As with machinery in the engine room, it is important that you choose the correct lubricant for the correct job, particularly paying attention to the type of metal that the parts are made of and how applying lubricant might affect the area around it. For example, you wouldn’t want oily grease spilling out onto the teak deck,” Thomas adds.

Gym Company Marine's Olympic bars in marine grade stainless steel, in the process of powdercoating in custom matte black

Nowadays almost all gym equipment has electronic displays and touchscreens, and when it comes to cleaning these, less is more. “Don’t use chemical products to clean the displays and control panels as these will damage the circuit boards. Simply use a damp cloth with water,” Thomas advises. Coloured plastic panels and bodywork on gym equipment is incredibly susceptible to colour fading when exposed to direct sunlight, Thomas adds, and to avoid a shabby appearance advises using Armourall or a similar product once a month for any equipment stored outside, as well as storing them under specially-made rain covers.

"Abrasive polishes can ruin the protective layer and actually speed up corrosion."

Understanding what materials have been used to make the gym equipment is equally important, and this is where crew can advise owners considering getting the equipment on board. This is particularly relevant when it comes to dumbbells, which can be made from a variety of metals. “Abrasive polishes can ruin the protective layer and actually speed up corrosion,” explains Thomas. “Some dumbbells are made of mild steel and are nickel-plated or galvanised with zinc. Mild steel is extremely prone to rusting and the thin nickel protective plate may only be 25 to 50 microcons thick. This layer is quickly obliterated by harsh, stainless polish exposing the easily oxidized mild steel beneath. Again, choosing the right products and knowing the physical properties of your kit can be vital in making long-term cost savings.”

The damages rust can do to gym equipment

It all comes down to the different environments to which the equipment is susceptible, and the problems this creates can be aggravated by regular changes in room temperature in those fitness areas separated from other areas of the yacht by a sliding door. “This creates problems owing to regular changes in room temperature, as the doors are opened and shut and the warm exterior air rushes in to replace the cool air in the air-conditioned interior,” says Thomas. “A major victim of temperature changes in this instance is the rubber belt on treadmills. Rubber mass expands and contracts when temperature changes and will never quite return to its original form as it cools. This means that over time the running belt deforms and becomes slack. You can tighten the belt on most treadmills with an easy adjustment. Make sure your gym equipment installer trains you on this easy fix.”
The maintenance of gym equipment may not be something an owner or charter guest specifically asks you, as crew, to undertake. However, by understanding the materials and what will and won’t encourage rust and corrosion, you will save your owner costly and unexpected replacements.