When launching a fitness business or a new facility, there are a lot of things to consider to ensure gym design success. Contrary to common belief, designing a gym takes more than just deciding how to lay out equipment.
The Origin Fitness team have put together their top 10 tips to keep in mind when getting ready to design your own gym.
1. Will the Venue Fit My Business?
Start with the obvious questions about the suitability of the potential site - like is it big enough for you to deliver your chosen activities safely?
You should have a pretty good idea of the type of gym you are looking to run, so keep practicality in mind when looking for a facility and throughout the gym design process.
Training style often dictates the type of equipment needed. If you are installing a functional rig and power racks, is the ceiling high enough to accomodate the rig as well as a user doin pull-ups or muscle-ups above it?
Keeping these types of questions at the top of your mind during the selection of your facility, and at the start of the gym design process, will save you a lot of hassle and disappointment in the future.
2. Capacity & Break-even Levels
By this point, you should really understand your club's offering, services and delivery model. You need to know what you’re going to be charging your members, what staff, insurance and accreditation overheads you will have and how many members you will need to break even and turn a profit.
Keep in mind whether the facility you are looking at will allow you to meet and exceed these break-even levels, both physically and financially, and if it offers the flexibility for potential future growth.
If it doesn’t, will the impact on what you would have to charge, or the service you would be delivering, alter your plans so much it would make them unfeasible? If the latter is the case, it may be time to re-think your vision and take a closer look at your business model.
3. Customer Focused Design
If your dream has always been to own a gym, great! Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that when you come to realise the dream it should be exactly the gym you would want to train in yourself.
Yes, spending most of your waking life there means it’s somewhere that you need to love. Though we’re sure you will love it, what’s key is that your customer loves it too. Your style, training methods and likes/dislikes might not be aligned with the majority of your target membership. Create a focus group, ask questions, gather opinions and understand the customer well enough to create their dream gym as well as yours.
4. Collaboration is Key
It’s important that you know what your business objectives are before worrying about fine tuning the details. Make sure that you communicate these clearly when you are starting to work with your chosen company and partners. While you need to have a vision, be prepared to have that guided by the experts from different fields.
When we start to work with customers we want to know what that vision is, we won’t dismantle it or force an alternative, out of the box solution upon you. We’ll work hard to shape plans using our expertise and to turn that vision into a reality which is going work for you in the long term.
5. Keep it User and Coach Friendly
It’s too easy to be drawn into talk of layouts, designs, equipment lists and storage solutions, but really it’s crucial to think about how the gym will be used on a day to day basis.
Try to make the space as accessible as possible to everyone utilising it. This means creating the best possible environment to train, as well as the best possible environment to coach. It might include a raised platform to ensure the instructor is clearly visible and well thought out AV systems. Even simple additions like white-boards and countdown timers make a difference.
6. Layout and Customer Journey
The customer journey encompasses every single interaction your customer has with your business. Think about their journey from start to finish, from the moment they walk through the door.
How are they welcomed? Many gyms choose a reception space to start, followed by changing/toilet facilities, but you could skip this to immerse your customer straight in to an exciting hub of activity.
From there, it should be clear to the customer where to go. Good gyms will have everything signposted and helpful staff to provide guidance when required. Also think about the logic in the way you organise the stretch, functional and free weights areas and whether each zone is set out in the most optimal combination of aesthetic and functional.
7. Noise Management
Gym’s tend not to be overly quiet, and in many cases gym owners need to try to minimise the noise, both for users and for other facilities potentially sharing your building.
In a multi-faceted gym conflicting spaces may need sepated. For example; Indoor Cycling and Yoga studios don’t always go down too well next door to each other. If that’s something you want to consider then test the acoustics before settling on permanent locations for these.
If you’re in an upper level space, be wary of the noise travelling to downstairs neighbours. Appropriate high impact flooring in free weights spaces is essential. Ask us about acoustic testing if this is something you’re concerned about.
8. Mechanical and Electrical requirements
This may seem like another obvious point to consider, but still too often overlooked in early planning. Know where your power outlets are and plan your cardio section accordingly (unless you want to have power leads snaking along the floor of the gym).
A lot of gyms are now adopting self-powered equipment in cardio spaces, which is great logistically and environmentally, but make sure that you do plan any remaining electrics before you install all your flooring and kit, even for visual and audio solutions.
9. Channel Your Inner Interior Designer
Some look forward to this stage of the design, some almost totally overlook it. Equipment in a gym contributes to creating a look, feel and style, but this is really delivered by the associated work done on interior design.
A few things to consider would be the colour scheme, branding (on walls, equipment, mirrors/windows, reception desk) gym signage and other small branded items – speak to our in-house design team about how we can help create an appropriate look and feel for your facility. We also offer custom flooring options which can add extra brand presence or functional touch.
Many of our clients are now exploring designs that incorporate a darker nightclub-like feel with coloured strip lighting or neon glowing features which match their brand colours. If this is the look you are going for, make sure that your walls, ceilings and even floors can accommodate the electrical requirements. Please also remember that the finished space needs to be safely lit as well as exceptionally cool.
10. Non-gym Facilities
Finally, you want your users to enjoy every aspect of your gym, not just the programmes and equipment on offer. Depending on your member base, this might mean installing alternative facilities to make your gym truly a space your customers want to spend their free time.
Perhaps offer a social space, a café or juice bar, baby change, showers, member lockers (might seem obvious but many warehouse style gyms don’t have this). You could consider recovery, physio, hydrotherapy or massage facilities, and even a small kit shop with gym essentials on offer. There are plenty other features you could consider in the gym to create a premium customer experience.
Rather than seeing this as an expense, consider it as an opportunity to partner up with a local business you support, or grow your brand through further marketing opportunities these facilities bring to your business.
So there you have it; 10 tips that will make your gym design experience a more focused, productive and hopefully enjoyable process.