Posted on July 18, 2019 by Gordon Smith

We live in very interesting times. Not just politically, but socially too. Lifestyles are changing and people are getting more conscious of health, fitness and the environment, which is especially noticeable amongst millennials and the older generation.

With a Government mission to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, we can’t ignore the impact that will have on society, as well as health and fitness. Fewer people are learning to drive and instead choosing to walk or cycle, which is also impacting the way we exercise.

This means the gym space has, and is, evolving from a space with cardio machines and weights to become a more versatile space to suit different people and types of exercise.

But what does that mean for today’s gym managers, and how does the landscape look in 2019 and beyond?

Let’s talk stats

With all the concerns around obesity and diabetes, the good news is that we are getting fitter and more active. A recent report from Sport England states that nearly 63% of the population is now active.

Fitness activities driven by gym sessions are still the most popular, with 13.4 million people opting for this form of exercise. However, walking for travel and leisure is fast increasing, so it’s worth keeping one eye on this sector.

Adventure activities, such as hiking and climbing, are also gaining in popularity, another area for gym managers to watch.

Gym-based cardio sessions, and group activities, such as Yoga and Pilates are still popular, but this doesn’t mean fitness or gym managers can rest easy though. Zumba has dropped down as a class of choice, which is starting to show a change in workout styles and trends.

Tech, tech, tech

The wearable technology revolution was driven in large part by fitness, so it’s not surprising that the development of new devices is playing into gym design and management.

Whether you’re in a public or private gym, people are still paying for the privilege of using it, so tech has got to be leading, if not bleeding, edge.

With the rise of budget gyms, a tech-focused space can also give you the edge over the more cost-conscious competition.

To keep up with rapidly evolving customer expectations, it’s important to ensure Wifi and Bluetooth is readily available, as well as tracking and monitoring technology, such as cadence trackers with bikes.

Additionally, body composition analysis projects/scanners are gaining in popularity with the tech-savvy user, as well as HR monitoring systems. Both of these elements offer a great chance to increase motivation and progress tracking.

The next generation of cardio machines will soon also be equipped with NFC (Near Field Communications), which enables users to pair with Apple Watch, Fitbits and other fitness trackers.

The way we workout

As we mentioned earlier, some class-based exercise still remains extremely popular and, for workouts such as Pilates or Yoga, they probably won’t show any signs of slowing down either. However, future-proofing is still going to be crucial for gym managers.

Looking at the rise in popularity in activities such as hiking and climbing, does your gym space need to consider how this can be worked into the current space?

Additionally, spin classes are also growing in popularity, especially sessions with virtual instructors and leader boards. What about functional workouts, have you factored this demand into your space design and layout?

If you’re in the process of looking to upgrade your gym, then it could be worth talking to a consultant about how to get your gym ready for future trends.

Residential and BTR

Gyms can be a revenue-generator in the Build to Rent, BTR, sector, but with this comes a responsibility to provide state-of-the-art equipment. If tenants are paying a premium, then they will expect more.

If you’re working within a restricted space, then space will be at a premium. For gyms located in densely populated areas, such as cities, zoning the gym space for HIIT workouts can be really effective.

To future-proof the space, it’s also worth talking to residents about the type of workout or activity they prefer. With their buy-in, you need to work at creating a space that works for all fitness types.

Later Living schemes

According to the Sport England report, the older generation are exercising more frequently. We are living longer, and medical breakthroughs mean we remain active for longer, which is great news!

Later Living Schemes are rising in popularity, but it’s important to incorporate a gym space into the development.  Just because the residents are in the mature stages in life, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to exercise.

Of course, the layout of a Later Living gym does need a bit more consideration, such as easier to use equipment and wall bars at waist height for support, but this is also an opportunity for gym managers to think more creatively about how their gym will run and support the community.

With loneliness playing a huge part in reducing longevity for older people, making the gym a social and interactive hub for residents will be critical.

The great news is that, steadily, we are becoming a fitter nation, but how we keep fit is moving away from simply sweating on an exercise bike for 30 minutes.

At motive8, our consultants specialise in getting gyms future-ready in order to help you maintain a steady revenue stream, as well as ensure your tenants, residents, guests or customers are always happy and keep coming back for more.

To learn more about our gym and spa design services please contact us on 020 8481 9700 or email