Posted on February 24, 2017 by Jasmine Shaddock
When planning a new gym or refurbishment, the changing room design is critical to the overall success of the gym facility. Footfall will undoubtedly increase if the changing room incorporates the needs of the user into a functional, clean, warm and private space. The changing room is an integral part of your interaction with your gym.
Many of us will be familiar with the idea of checking a restaurant’s washroom facilities to judge the state of its kitchen – we believe the same applies to gym changing rooms. Well designed changing rooms that welcome you, make you feel comfortable, give the right level of privacy and a luxurious showering experience will almost certainly be a reason to choose one gym facility over another.
“Unpleasant changing rooms really don’t give the user much confidence in a gym,” says Nick Sadler, Managing Director of motive8. “Good changing room design is all about how you make people feel.”
There are several things about a bad changing room that make us cringe every time we come across them: a clingy shower curtain, a waterlogged and dirty floor, lockers that only accept the one coin you don’t have. Here are our top tips on creating aspirational changing room design that we all should experience.
“You need to be really thoughtful with your lighting,” says Nick. “Making sure the changing area isn’t too brightly light is very important for protecting people’s modesty.”
Changing in a bright light would make many of us feel quite uncomfortable. A diffused and orange coloured light is a more sympathetic choice for the changing area.
Lighting, like in a gym, can be divided into the various different zones of the changing rooms. The vanity area should have a brighter, clearer light away from the changing area, to ensure all of the hair drying and skincare can be done in front of well-lit mirrors.
Layout of a changing room is just as important as the gym itself. One large square isn’t ideal, as it doesn’t allow you any privacy, or personal space. It also doesn’t provide the chance for different lighting areas for different uses. A large, sparse room can be quite intimidating and off-putting, especially on the first walk around of the gym.
“One of the most important things is to make sure that no one can see into the changing room from the outside when the door is opened,” says Nick.
Also, for maintaining privacy, it is essential to add private changing cubicles.
“Obviously it depends on how many people use the gym, but a few private cubicles are a great idea,” says Nick. “It just gives people that option.”
As well as the changing room, the quality of the shower experience is key to ensuring the continued success of the gym and spa. This is especially so in corporate gyms where we are often tight for time. We want (and need) a powerful shower to refresh us before we start back at the desk fresh. If the gym can’t offer this then they just won’t use it. Not only is the power of the shower paramount, but the drainage too – well-plumbed drainage means the shower water drains away, rather than pools and prevents standing water collecting on the floor. This can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mould.
Shower curtains are also a definite ‘no’ in changing room design. It’s 2017 – we all expect a glass door in our shower cubicle, and a lock.
“And importantly, add a hook”, says Nick. “It’s the small things that make such a big difference sometimes. Make sure there is a hook where people can hang their clothes and towel.”
Nick also points out that all gyms should think about providing quality shampoo and shower gel, not just in hotel bathrooms.
“Again, it’s such a simple and small thing to provide a nice shampoo, conditioner and body wash. It’s a simple idea so that users don’t have to carry around their own all the time.”
Lockers and accessories
It is important to focus on the design of the inside of a locker as much as the outside. Lockers should be a practical size with space allocated for shoes, bags and coats. The larger lockers can even have a separate compartment for hanging shirts that need to stay flat – a great investment.
Any gym should move towards the keypad locking system for their lockers, rather than the coin system, to prevent the frustrating search for the right change on arrival! Other additional extras can make us feel special at the gym – a towel service, bath robes, slippers, hair dryers and straighteners available to use are what we are beginning to expect in the best changing rooms – just make sure the towels and robes are soft, pristine and fluffy!