The Ultimate Guide to Gym Design 2020

There’s a lot more to creating a gym than a couple of treadmills and a water cooler, which is why we’ve put together our guide to gym design to help you avoid the common pitfalls and help you create a great space for clients, staff, guests or residents.

What are the trending looks in gym equipment?

Bespoke, high-end gyms look stunning. The more time you take looking around a beautifully designed gym, the more detail you will find. From the welcome mat to the showers, to the smartly displayed equipment with the gym logo, every small consideration counts.

Changing the colour of the equipment to tie in with the rest of the gym’s design is a great way of not only tying a concept together, but creating the illusion of more space. Bulky machinery that blends in rather than clashing with its surroundings will always look slick.

Gyms can be highly bespoke, providing you know what to personalise. motive8’s gym design expert and Managing Director, Nick Sadler, understands current trends when it comes to the look and colours of equipment:

“Popular colours for gym equipment are chromes and natural woods. This look is becoming hugely popular at the moment”, says Nick.

Carbon fibre is another high quality material that is used in bespoke gym design. Fitted wall racks and pull-up bars look great in the very light-weight carbon fibre.

The wood finish is another great look for high-end gyms. You can get dumbbells, water rowers and other equipment in various wood finishes, which are very trendy at the moment.”


It’s not just treadmills and rowers that can also be customised – the small details count just as much. Branding and logos can be printed or etched onto weights, stretching and yoga mats, and their colours can be customised to match the overall scheme.

What’s the best equipment for office gyms?

Corporate gyms and office gyms are an expanding marketplace. As employers focus more and more on their teams’ physical and mental corporate wellbeing, companies are building gyms in corporate environments to meet their demands.

We asked our personal trainers what equipment the perfect office gym should have. They replied:

  • Boxing equipment
  • Dumbbells
  • Squat rack
  • Bench
  • Stretching area
  • Treadmill
  • Cross trainer

BB and squat rack –  for fundamental compound movements and for loading if somebody is experienced.”
Shawn Mullix, Head Personal Trainer at motive8

Jenny Cromack, Director of motive8 North said:

Boxing Equipment – gloves, bags and pads – great for everyone to work at their own level of intensity and are ideal for stress release surrounding busy work schedules.

I also think kettlebells are great in corporate sites as they are good for getting an effective workout in during a short period of time i.e. if people are using the gym on lunch breaks etc.

In the zone

Another aspect of making a gym bespoke is tailoring its space to its users.

“Zoning is a very popular technique for dividing up a gym into its respective types of exercise. One zone for stretching, another for weights etc.” Nick Sadler, motive8

Zoning floor areas not only organises a gym nicely, but shows its users that the space has been personalised to their exercise needs. Customers will feel they are very well looked after if their regular gym caters to exactly what they like to use.

There is also a good practical and design reason for zoning floor space. Different flooring can be used in each zone so that the floor is the most suitable for a particular type of exercise. A hard non-scratch floor, for example, is great for running and rowing machines; whereas a thicker but slightly softer area in the stretching zone would be much kinder on people’s knees – even if they are using a mat.

Mirror mirror, where on the wall?

There are two main reasons for using mirrors in a gym. The first is around function and practicality, the second being aesthetics.

From a functional perspective, mirrors make a workout space much safer. When you’re in a gym you’ll notice they are more commonly located in stretching and floor exercise areas, as well as free weight zones; this is so that people can see exactly what position they are in when stretching and lifting.

One lift or stretch done incorrectly can cause injury, so being able to check posture and gait in the mirror makes a big difference.

The aesthetic reason for having mirrors in a gym is because they can help to make a space feel larger than it really is. Mirrors can also help make the most of a room’s natural light, which enhances wellbeing.

Not only that, but mirrors also reduce the amount of repair or touch-up work that needs to be done. When people stretch, they do tend to put hands on walls which can get dirty very quickly and will inevitably need to be re-painted. With mirrors, however, hand marks can simply be wiped off, keeping the gym cleaner for longer.

Cheats for great gym design

There are many ways you can have a great gym space on a budget. Be warned though, cheap equipment and cutting corners will end up costing you more, but there are ways you can manage spend more effectively.

Being creative with a space is a great place to start. Through the use of lighting you can make a space feel bigger, and using equipment, such as towers, replaces the need for lots of individual pieces.

Creating a multi-purpose space can also help reduce costs. Using boxes or benches to store free weights or free-standing equipment means you change from cardio to class workouts quickly and efficiently.

Avoid cutting corners

You might decide to save a few pounds through buying from a cheaper supplier only to have to re-purchase an item sooner than expected due to poor quality and false promises. When it comes to gym design, there really is no compromise on getting the job done properly.

One of the most common factors in client gym design briefs is that cost plays a hugely important role in their plans. Yet their aspirations for the final result is one of perfection and a happy end user – exactly what we at motive8 aim for in everything we do. From bespoke home gyms to the larger corporate and residential gyms we work on, we have learnt that smaller budgets don’t necessarily mean a compromise on a great end result.

We use a variety of methods to achieve the right outcome – be it clever pieces of equipment that can replace the need for lots of separate items or a fantastic layout that genuinely provides the user with the best facility possible. motive8 has designed and installed over 200 facilities that continue to deliver on their promises.

Sadly we also come across a number of gyms that have been installed very poorly. A  lack of understanding of what gym users desire and a limited knowledge of the best equipment out there have resulted in a number of unhappy gym owners facing hefty maintenance and equipment replacement bills and unsatisfied users who fail to enjoy a fulfilling workout in their facility.

We’ve seen everything from mismatched, cheap equipment installations to saunas that have even set on fire! What’s more, our relationships with our suppliers means that we are perfectly positioned to negotiate the best outcome for our clients, regularly saving them thousands of pounds had they gone elsewhere.

If you are looking for a facility that fits your brief and hits your budget, then you know where to come!

Beware of fitness fads

20 years in the fitness business has taught us how to identify a long-term trend versus gimmicks. Investing in a short-lived exercise phase is a high-risk approach that could prove detrimental to a business.

We always analyse the market and really assess what’s going to work for our customers now, and in the future. It’s an approach that certainly seems to work as we have been working with some clients for over 13 years.

In terms of exercise trends, we’ve seen a few come and go, so we do watch this area closely. What we call the classics, such as Yoga and Pilates, aren’t going anywhere soon, but cardio does change and evolve at a fast pace.

We’re also seeing exercise evolving to be a more social experience and we’re now being asked more and more to create fitness and leisure-focused spaces.

Ultimately, what you don’t want to do is make purchases in a hurry. Instead take your time, get to know and assess the market before making any decisions.

Brand it up

For residential or corporate gyms, creating a more bespoke, branded look and feel creates more of a sense of common purpose and brand identity.

Small things such as branded mats or free weights can help users really buy into the space. You can also get customised equipment, so if you’re focusing on creating a more high-end space, then this approach works really well.

Branding and logos need not stop at the gym door; these can be continued through to the changing rooms and shower facilities or any spa rooms that may also be part of a high-end gym. Towels, water bottles, robes, soaps and shampoos can all be customised in colours, logos and even shapes!

Like anything, a gym can be as cost-effective or as expensive as you want it to be. If you’re on a tight budget, then simply adding lights using bulbs in your brand colours can make a difference and help create that wow factor you want from a gym space.

Of course, there are other considerations when building and designing a gym, such as health and safety and placement of equipment, but these pointers should certainly help you get started.

If you’d like to talk to industry professionals about creating a gym, why not get in touch and find out how we can help you. Please contact our friendly team on 020 8481 9700 /


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Alice Ward


Alice has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years, one of her first places of work being motive8! Since then, Alice has gone on to work for some of the leading U.K gym providers and most recently managed a large corporate gym in Surrey, implementing innovative fitness trends and overseeing the health and wellbeing of the clients, alongside opening a second corporate club and managing a team of personal trainers and instructors. A keen interest in health and fitness drives Alice outside of work, spending regular time working out in the gym, outdoors or at home.

Monika Blaziak

Gym Maintenance Co-ordinator Manager

Monika is the Gym Maintenance Co-ordinator Manager for all gym and pool/leisure equipment and has a background in maintenance and accounts administration for property development companies.

Monika’s skills include accounting, IT and of course the backbone of all busy administration roles, multi-tasking!

In her spare time she likes to spend her free time with her dog Cezar, walking through parks and forests and also likes to relax with a good book at the end of the day. Monika is also interested in psychology, which she is currently studying.

Nick Sadler

Managing Director

Nick Sadler is the Founding Director of motive8 and has worked in the industry for 18 years. He has worked as the lead Gym and Spa consultant on projects across all sectors on a number of prestigious schemes with developers, architects, interior design agencies and managing agents. His expertise and consultancy on projects have ensured that the original design concepts are always met or exceeded whilst maintaining the future operational efficiency of the facility.

Jenny Cromack


Jenny’s specialism’s are fat loss and endurance training, she has a proven record in helping clients to lose weight, change their body image and simply feel amazing about themselves! Having seen what we can achieve with clients on a 1:1 basis, Jenny transfers these skills to be able to impact the health and wellbeing of corporate clients and groups.

A keen duathlete and triathlete, Jenny has recently started representing Great Britain for her age group. So, if she isn’t at work she will be cycling, swimming or running somewhere!

Sarah Cleland-Smith


Sarah has worked in the fitness industry for 17 years and is a co-owner of motive8. She has worked across all areas of the business, predominantly the day to day operations of the Gym and Spa facilities we currently manage on behalf of our clients. She has a key understanding of how design must meet operational requirements, ensuring the client and end user receive the best possible service and ongoing running costs are considered in the design. Her current focus is project management and financials.

Richard Moon


Richard has headed up the motive8 maintenance team for the past 12 years and became a Director and co-owner of the business in 2016. He provides service contracts and maintenance for all motive8 equipped facilities to ensure longevity and value for the client. The maintenance department currently services in excess of 200 sites in the UK. He works with the client and their onsite team to provide H&S best practice which includes daily checks of the facility. Richard also manages motive8 gym installations, ensuring equipment and design are delivered on time, safely and to a high standard.

Rob Clarke


Rob has worked in the leisure industry all of his working life and brings with him a huge amount of experience from the commercial leisure sector. He has provided consultancy to the majority of the country’s leading developers, architects and property management companies and is widely considered as one of the leading experts in residential leisure facilities.

Rob’s role at motive8 is a varied one and involves business development, overseeing the maintenance and management departments whilst also consulting on a variety of client projects.

Outside of the office, you will often find Rob walking his beloved Labrador in Windsor Great Park. Rob also enjoys travelling and spending time with his family.

Nikki Spratley

IQ coordinator

Nikki has always had a passion for helping people and after spending a number of years working in and running the Gym & Spa department, an opportunity to develop and grow motive8’s training division presented itself and so Nikki moved from overseeing the Gym & Spa team and managed sites to developing the training of our own team along with those from outside of motive8.

Outside of motive8, Nikki continues to work at a sports massage clinic helping her clients with various injuries along with making time for her own fitness and wellbeing.

Margaret Hamya


Margaret is our bookkeeper and joined the company in March of 2017.
She enjoys working on multiple projects within the finance department and uses her professional qualification in Finance and Accounting to generate the financial reports used by different stakeholders within the company.

In her spare time she gets involved in different life activities like spending time with family and friends and enjoys cooking.

Rolstone Langmead

Logistics & Gym Install Manager

Joining motive8 back in 2013 with the Gym & Spa department, Rolstone brought his experience from the customer service industry as well as 8 years’ experience as a personal trainer, the knowledge of which was spread into the department.

Rolstone now manages motive8 gym installations, ensuring equipment and design are delivered on time, safely and to a high standard. Providing H&S best practice and service support to our customers for all our products with the aid of our team of engineers. Rolstone is also working with our Maintenance team that currently services in excess of 200 sites in the UK to ensure longevity and value for the client.

Albert Spangenberg

Refurb and Technicians Manager

Albert started his career in facility maintenance and operations; he is now motive8’s Refurb and Technicians Manager. Albert launched a new department providing refurbished gym equipment to rent or buy which his background in mechanical engineering and manufacturing perfectly suits. He has worked in the fitness industry for the past 17 years. Albert is meticulous about how the equipment is maintained and is always looking at ways to improve the service motive8 can offer to their clients.

In his spare time he likes spend quality time with the family and work on mechanical projects.

Kamil Reyad

Maintenance Admin Assistant

Kamil is a recent law graduate with a background in customer service and sales, working within the maintenance administration team. His skills include IT, Multi-tasking and customer service.

In his spare time he enjoys going to the gym, boxing, practicing MMA, playing guitar, reading and gaming.

Warren Killeen

Head of Maintenance

Warren started his career as an Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration engineer servicing a wide range of commercial and industrial systems. He has over 20 years’ experience in the FM industry working for major players across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. With his technical and hands-on experience, Warren has always been happy to roll his sleeves up and get involved with works on sites when needed. In Warren’s spare time he enjoys DIY, quizzing and country walks. He is also involved with helping at his local Irish club organising charity fundraising nights and other events.

Kim Mead

Gym & Spa Design

Kim’s career began in the property industry, where she spent a number of years working for both estate agents and developers, giving her a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge of how the industry functions.

Kim has worked alongside Nick for the past 11 years and transforms his ideas & designs into 3D visuals and 2D floor layouts via CAD & Visio in line with the architect’s requirements. She brings together all project documentation including equipment specifications, quotes & project drawings. Once finalised and agreed, Kim procures all the required equipment.

In her spare time, Kim loves playing tennis, cooking and travelling.

Sally Ottewell

Gym & Spa Consultant

Sally has over 10 years’ experience in sales. She has worked within the communications industry for 12 years and made the move to motive8 because of her love for all things fitness.

Sally is passionate about gym and spa design and takes pride in each individual project, whether that be residential, corporate, commercial or within the hotel market. She consults, designs layouts and provides product advice on schemes nationwide with a range of developers, designers, project managers and private clients.

She enjoys being active, is a regular gym goer and has practiced yoga since being a teenager, qualifying to teach it in 2014.

Emma Jackson


Emma has recently joined the Gym and Spa Team, after graduating from the University of Nottingham with a masters in Product Design and Manufacture Engineering.
She is experienced in CAD, creating 3D visuals and has extensive design knowledge, which she’s now using to design gym and spa facilities.

In her spare time Emma enjoys travelling, cooking and spending time with her family and dogs.

Ashley Wright

Head of Gym & Spa Management

Ashley moved back to the UK after working as a singer in production shows around Europe. Starting in the fitness industry as a Personal Trainer, Ashley joined Motive8 as an Area Manager in 2019 before moving into the role of Head of Gym and Spa Management. Ashley oversees the Gym and Spa Department ensuring a high standard of service is met for the residents and motive8’s clients.

Away from work, Ashley still teaches spin classes at a number of gyms across London and enjoys cooking and travelling.

Josh Remedios

Gym & Spa Area Manager

Josh has worked for motive8 since 2013 after graduating from University of Portsmouth. He has worked his way up through the gym and spa department from Spa Operative, to Supervisor, Manager and now Area Manager. Josh works with the managers he oversees to provide facilities residents can enjoy as an extension to their homes as well as working closely with the estate management companies to ensure the standards at all sites remain high.

Outside of motive8 Josh is a keen on his travelling and adding to a growing list of countries he has visited as well as being passionate about his own fitness and football.

Lauren Alford

Gym & Spa Area Manager

Starting in the fitness industry as a Personal Trainer with a specialism for pre and post-natal exercise, Lauren moved into management and now oversees the running of several of motive8’s fully managed gym & spa contracts. Lauren deals with the day-to-day operations of these sites whilst ensuring a high standard of service is met for the residents and motive8’s clients.

Away from work, Lauren is a holistic therapist and yoga teacher. Having previously competed in multiple martial art disciplines, she still enjoys practicing them as part of her weekly workout routine.

Will Thompson


Will has worked in the leisure industry for 12 years. During this time, he has held many different roles all over the country in many different sectors of the leisure industry.
Will joined the motive8 team in August 2019 as Gym and Spa manager where he excelled and has since been promoted into the area manager role.

In his spare time Will enjoys spending time with friends and family and open water swimming in Shepperton lakes.

Kate Halsall

Personal Trainer & Biomechanics Coach

Kate is an enthusiastic personal trainer, and qualified biomechanics coach, who specialises in posture and back care. She has worked in the industry since 2009, and her other specialisms include weight/fat loss, group exercise and working with specialist populations.

On top of that, Kate loves working with groups of pregnant ladies as she is also pre and post-natal qualified! Exercise is a real passion of hers, and she can often be found riding her bike, going to fitness weekends, walking in the lake district – and she’s recently started participating in cycling sportives.

When it comes to advice, she claims “give it a try – what’s the worst that could happen?” is her greatest piece.

Emily Forbes

Personal Trainer

Emily is motive8’s in-house nutritionist, and doesn’t stop at just being a great personal trainer. Her effective programming and nutritional advice is highly popular and aimed at helping clients achieve a variety of fitness goals.

Not only is Emily passionate about nutrition though, as she also loves strength training and Yoga. She takes a holistic approach to exercise, nutrition and health as a whole, which no doubt makes for a recipe for success across the board.

Her greatest piece of advice is simply “consistency…this will help you achieve your goals for the long term.”