Posted on May 02, 2017 by Gordon Smith

Distractions abound for students embarking on their new university courses; most have access to unlimited entertainment via on demand TV, there’s the constant ping of social media updates to contend with, not to mention the lure of the student union. In these sedentary days, exercise is a prerequisite for a healthy life and successful academic career. New-build student accommodation is booming at the moment, and high-spec luxury facilities are becoming an expectation for today’s students. So how do you design a gym for students?

Typical goals for student gyms

Whether you are starting from scratch or want to refurbish current facilities, we always start by establishing clear goals for what the gym needs to achieve.

Does your university have any popular sporting societies or clubs? What would help them achieve their fitness goals? Do your students want to use exercise as a way to manage stress and boost success in their studies? Will they use it as a way to socialise?

Here are some typical goals that colleges and universities try to reach:

  • Increase student wellbeing and fitness;
  • Help to improve with life skills such as self-discipline and goal-setting;
  • Increase physical stamina;
  • Raise revenue for the university;
  • Improve success of university sports teams and clubs;
  • Improve student satisfaction;

You can probably come up with half a dozen considerations off the cuff, but the best way to find out what your target audience want and need is to ask them. A short survey emailed out to members or conducted in the gym by staff doesn’t take much effort to implement but can provide invaluable insights that will enable you to shape your gym design around your users.

Consulting the student body and SU

Another way to get a student’s view on what needs to be included in your new gym is to involve the student union when designing your student gym. They will have a good idea of what students will use the gym for, with regards to the latest exercise trends and what the prevalent sports are for your university. This may also open up opportunities for your gym to act as a versatile space for special events. For example you could set up a league table for people training for a marathon, or your gym could even host an indoor gaming tournament between nearby unis.

Once the goals are set and you have a clear understanding of what your student population want from their gym, it’s time to start planning the space and what gym equipment will be included.

Visualising your space afresh

If you are about to design a gym as part of a new build, you will need to consult with your gym designer to work in all of these requirements into the final design. But, if you are looking to refit a currently-in-use, functioning gym, it’s essential to reimagine the space. This can be tricky if the room is full of equipment and users and it’s where an experienced student gym designer can play an invaluable role.

Your design team will be experienced in maximising the available space. They can also find clever ways to ensure that the finished gym area is light, bright, with properly designed air flow and, above all, safe. The designers will have experience of using mirrors to bounce light around and help students work out safely and understand how their bodies are changing through exercise.

The changing room’s design is almost more important than the gym itself. It’s the key space that will either encourage gym use or put students off forever, so it’s vital to get this part right.

Building for the long term

Gym design doesn’t stop when the installation team leave the building. It’s vital to build a gym which is easy to maintain at the lowest possible cost. The designers will be thinking about your gym maintenance from the very outset of the project.

It’s also really important to consider how to get the most from your student gym, whether it’s through maximising equipment use or accommodating the latest trends in fitness and workout classes.

With decades of combined industry experience under our belts, and having designed and fitted hundreds of gyms, at motive8 we can help with any queries you have with regards to designing a gym for students. Give us a call for a free consultation on 020 8481 9700.

See also