So, you would like to build a gym? We strongly recommend working with an experienced gym design consultant to help you through the project and create a gym that will last for years.
Gym design is a specialised profession, involving knowledge of many technical aspects of gym construction such as equipment types, makes, models and all aspects of gym building including flooring, lighting, plumbing, logistics, temperature and humidity control, noise, vibration management and much more!
Beyond the technical side, there’s a world of imaginative design and clever ideas for your gym that can be tapped into when you hire a competent consultant. And, most importantly, your consultant will possess knowledge of gym trends that can only come from building dozens of gyms in offices, hotels, residential buildings etc.
To work effectively with your gym consultant, it’s a great idea to understand what they need to find out about you, your prospective gym users and your overall goals for the success of the project. And it’s important to think about the long-term running and maintenance of your gym, so you can be prepared to factor in all costs from the outset.
The very best gym consultants will help you achieve a gym that will last for years, raise consistent revenue (if it’s a commercial gym) or drive employee engagement (if it’s a corporate gym). Your consultant will explain the various phases of the process and help you to be forearmed with the answers to as many questions as possible.
But don’t worry – you won’t be doing all the work. Anything you don’t yet know will be discussed and your consultant will tease out what success looks like to you. Your consultant is there to help, so make the most of it!
The phases of gym design
There are usually four or five separate phases of gym design: consultation, design, installation/fit out, launch and maintenance.
In this phase your consultant is looking to establish what your goals are, who will be using the gym, what it’s overall purpose is, how it will be managed and how it will drive revenue.
Space and location audit. Your consultant will examine the space you have and determine what you might need to be built or co-opted.
If the space you have is just too small, gym-goers won’t use it. Gyms need to feel airy and spacious. The gym has to accommodate a range of spaces, potentially including the workout area itself plus fitness areas, storage facilities, sauna and spa facilities, showers, changing rooms, toilets, staff facilities and possibly reception and office space. Space for first aid equipment and staff storage needs to be factored in too.
In the age of social distancing adequate space is going to become ever more important.
Numbers of users and daily peaks times. How many people are likely to use the gym at peak times? And at off-peak times? In corporate gyms, it’s common for gyms to be full at breakfast, lunch and early evening, but hardly used in between.
What exercises are going to be offered? The type of exercise determines the type of space. For example, a room for spin classes will need to offer music and lighting, loud and bright enough to stimulate energetic exercise. But for low-impact stretching exercises, such as Pilates, sound spill-over from adjacent areas must be kept to a minimum.
Sound. The noise from a gym can be disturbing. Vibration from gym-goers pounding treadmills on the floor above can be quite off-putting. In corporate settings, loud music and vibration is a very large concern where important meetings are being held or customers are being entertained.
Gym design phase
Once the overall goals are agreed, your consultant will begin work on the design. Again, there are some important decisions to be made and it’s as well to know what’s coming in order to make the most of your gym consultant.
Sound and vision. One of the key points of creating a gym is to encourage employees to switch off from their work and zone into something else for a while. That’s harder to do if there is no facility for ambient sound and something to look at/engage with on a screen. But there are so many ways to provide music and visuals, from big screens and loud music to more private solutions.
Look and feel concepts. The gym space should be an exciting and energising place to enter. It should be sufficiently different in mood and ambience to be instantly recognisable as a space to switch off from the world and focus on fitness. At the same time, it must fit into the overall design and architecture of the containing building.
For example, for this client, we installed a basement gym which is designed sympathetically with the existing building, but at the same time still stands apart.
Lighting and mood. The ambience of the space will need to be consistent with the overall vision and goals of the organisation or developer. So, a good gym design consultant will look at your company’s mission statement and vision and values documents.
For example, an eco-friendly company might want a green/carbon neutral space – maybe even a living wall like the one we installed for this London-based corporate gym. The living wall is made of moss to trap pollutants and purify the air naturally. Whereas another company gym might better suit the industrial/city look.
Accessibility is an absolute must. The requirements of gym users with differing abilities must be taken into account from the outset.
Temperature. Creating an ambient temperature and well-conditioned air environment is vital. Too high a temperature can cause excess sweating and even overheating, a condition you do not want your gym patrons to suffer.
Although there is no legislation mandating the correct temperature in fitness facilities, we follow the recommendations of Sport England with a temperature of 16-18 degrees Celsius, with allowances for slightly warmer temperatures in high summer. Ventilation is measured in litres per second per person, and this must be optimised according the size of the gym.
Lockers and wet and dry changing spaces need to accommodate peak-time usage. A guide ratio of 1.5 lockers per person using the facility in a one-hour period is often used.
Gym equipment. Last but not least, your consultant will work with you to recommend the best makes and models of gym equipment, from cardio and resistance equipment to free weights and more. Lockers can be sourced from a variety of suppliers in styles ranging from modern, to classic and even vintage and retro. For example, in this gym in Spitalfields in London we installed a cardio area with the latest equipment with in-built TV and internet. The strength area has half racks and free weights, and the functional training zone offers multi-use wall-mounted frames that can be used for pull-ups, suspension training and boxing as well as a Dual Adjustable Pulley. There is also a large stretching area for core work.
In this phase, your consultant will work with you and the contractors to ensure that the installation and fit-out proceeds according to an agreed timetable. Usually in gym design projects there is work to do rerouting pipework, drains, introducing air conditioning, plumbing and installing showers, all of which require planning and co-ordination. Your consultant will keep you in the loop at all times.
Maintenance and management phase
Once your gym is successfully launched, it goes into a maintenance phase. With such a lot of physical activity, it’s not surprising that gym equipment degrades over time and needs to be maintained and repaired. This is usually done on a contract with a gym management company.
Very often management will include providing qualified and experienced staff who can run the gym and provide inductions, education, personal training, health and safety, specialist instruction and even run gym classes. Please see our information on the importantance of an effective gym management contract.
A well-planned gym will drive more revenue, last longer, drive employee engagement and add value to your organisation. Working with your gym consultant can help to deliver a gym that will last for years to come and bring a substantial return on investment. Finally, understanding the aspects of gym design consultancy will help you work more effectively with your consultant.