The range of products and activities available in the world of fitness has increased exponentially, and in order to meet the requirements that come with this new reality, the gym design and planning phase is crucial. Operators can no longer restrict themselves to jamming the rooms of their fitness facilities with gym equipment arranged at random, with no precise design. Today, the quality of a fitness facility relies on more than just the amount of equipment it has.
But how do you design a gym? What criteria should be followed in order to create the best possible fitness facility?
The elements that guide the design process
An advertisement a few years ago introduced us to the phrase, "everything around you", meaning that both the product and the corresponding services were centred on the end user. This is the principle that must drive the design process:
The gym must be a place designed for all those who spend time there, from the operators to the members
In order to stand out from the crowd, a fitness facility must have its own personality, like a unique, custom-made suit. But uniqueness should not be pursued at the expense of the experience that the users have once inside the facility.
Accordingly, the aesthetic and functional components must come together during the design phase, creating a gym in which it is enjoyable to work, relax and meet other people - a pleasant fitness facility and an enjoyable place to spend time.
Details designed to assist members and operators alike
A space for everyone
In light of the extensive range of activities offered by fitness facilities, and the diversity of these, it is essential to create dedicated areas that are clearly delineated. Attempting to concentrate on a yoga position while the group next door are taking a class which involves moving around to energetic, lively music, for example, is less than ideal.
In such situations, then, the design of a facility must take the different needs of users into account, with suitable spaces devoted to each activity. So much the better if these spaces are modular, too, so they can be changed and adapted as the activities offered by the gym evolve.
In the beginning, there was...cardio
We have already established that it is the positioning rather than the number of machines that makes all the difference in a gym and that this amongst other things, plays a decisive role in the success of a club. If the first impression is the one that truly counts, the feeling that we get when we look around on entering a fitness facility is just as important.
For this reason, when designing a gym, it is advisable to ensure that the cardio area is located right at the entrance of the training space, in order to convey an immediate sense of dynamism and vivacity. If the cardio equipment faces a beautiful glass window, the effect is guaranteed.
Giving your members the feeling that they are training outside even when they are indoors is most definitely a significant plus. And if there isn't a window? This can be remedied using a strategically placed mirror or decorated wall.
Freedom to move
It’s good to keep some distance between the various pieces of equipment, both in the strength training area and the cardio area. This is not only for safety reasons - indeed, this aspect is governed by specific rules and regulations - but also in the interests of the privacy of the user. It is true that members must still train in the same room, but not everyone appreciates finding themselves elbow to elbow with strangers.
The right mix
The quantity of ingredients is crucial to the success of a recipe, as is the way in which these are combined. The same thing, in a sense, applies to gym equipment. In the case of strength training machines, a good design sees tools grouped according to the muscles they are designed to train.
Let’s imagine that you are training your legs, and you have to move from one side to side of the room to the other to get to the abductor after having completed your sets on the leg press. Pretty inconvenient, right? If, on the other hand, the strength training area is properly laid out according to the various muscle groups, the comfort of both members and personal trainers is increased.
The layout of cardio equipment should follow similar guidelines, with treadmills grouped together, bikes in one area, and other cardiovascular training products nearby.
Taking visual impact into consideration
Thinking about gym design, we must not underestimate the aesthetic aspect, and the arrangement of the equipment contributes to this. Positioning two machines of very different heights side by side is a no-no, as it conveys a sense of discontinuity, and risks making the space seem smaller than it actually is.
We can be "creative" in the way we install equipment; sometimes, it takes very little to break the mould, but the result is guaranteed: two treadmills positioned one in front of the other, for example. In this case, the beauty of symmetry also serves a functional purpose, as it enables two people - two friends, perhaps - to run or walk while face to face.
Finally, attention must be paid to light, whether this is natural or artificial. Even the most beautiful painting can be ruined by bad lighting, and in the case of a piece of fitness equipment, the repercussions may be felt in the degree to which the product is used. Let’s imagine a treadmill equipped with a hi-tech screen like UNITY: the experience provided by the HD content would be undermined by light reflections.
The gym: not just training
Today, a fitness facility is no longer just a place where we take a “hit and run” approach to training, or indeed, a space that is only dedicated to one type of activity, namely physical. Today, we meet people at the gym, take a little “me-time” to relax, enrol on courses or meet wellness specialists.
When looking at gym design these needs must be taken into account, creating suitable spaces and choosing appropriate furnishings. This is why any gym design must include areas such as a reception desk, a lounge, or simply a corner, in the case of smaller gyms.
A host of furnishing and decoration features have also begun to make an appearance in the spaces dedicated to actual training. Today, it no longer feels strange to find a stylish chair or table next to a treadmill. This approach, which follows a number of key criteria, serves to break the monotony of the environment and make it more welcoming, warmer and less intimidating.