Designs on Facility Space

by R. Porter on Apr 01, 2001

How much equipment can fit into how much space at what cost? a reality, though, can be quite a challenge. How much space is needed? What kind of equipment will it take? Can the overall objectives be achieved within the designated budget? Many questions must be answered to successfully outfit and open a facility. This article presents a basic overview of how to gauge space and equipment needs for today's professional fitness studio or home gym. It provides practical information on what to consider when designing a top-notch facility. Let's begin with some general observations about building requirements. Later we will look at different equipment based on cost, type and size. IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER Space A common dream among many personal trainers is opening a fitness studio or home gym to Designs on Facility better serve clients. Turning that dream into By Rod Porter, MA APRIL 2001 Facility Space Size The first step in designing a home gym or studio is determining its size. Establish how many people will be using the facility at one time. For example, California law sets building occupancy numbers according to the formula, "total square footage divided by 50." From the state's point of view, each person needs about 50 square feet. (Figure based on Fire Codes of San Diego.) For most personal trainers, 50 square feet per person means too many people in a space too small to adequately train and supervise. A more realistic formula is 100 square feet per person (Richardson 1987). Keep these formulas in mind when deciding the appropriate facility size. Each business will have different expectations. uous contact with the floor in this area. The cardiovascular area need not be padded, but it too must be easy to clean because of the increased amount of perspiration in this area. Make the flooring in the machine weight area durable enough to handle the weight on top of it. Choose an even more durable flooring for the Olympic platform area and free weight area, since they will have to withstand the pressure of weights being dropped on them. To reduce the chance of injuries, use raised mats under each piece of equipment to aid traffic flow and increase awareness of spatial surroundings (Porter 1997). In addition, color-code the various walkways to separate them from the exercise areas. Office When enough space is provided, an office is nice to have at one's disposal. However, note these precautions: I Soundproof the office so important matters can be conducted in private. I Position the office in an area that enables complete visibility of the whole facility, to decrease the chance of unseen injuries and negligence lawsuits. Use large windows to achieve this objective, particularly if clients will be training without direct supervision. I Coordinate the placement of telephone and electrical outlets to maximize office space. For example, stereo equipment and computers might work best in the office. Flooring After determining the floor size, the next step is finding the right material for the floor area. Whatever materials are chosen, remember they must be durable enough to handle weights pounding on them daily, relatively sound-absorbing to reduce noise from the weights, and easy to clean, since chalk, sweat and dirt will drop on them constantly. (Ideally, locate home gyms and studios on ground floors, due to the continuous dropping of dumbbells, barbells and plates.) Rubber flooring with a textured, nonskid surface of 3/8-inch to 3/4-inch thickness works well. It is sturdy and simple to clean. Avoid using carpet, since it is hard to disinfect and stains worse than other surfaces. Depending on priorities, a home gym or studio might have areas designated for: I stretching I cardiovascular work I Olympic platform area I machine weights I free weights Each area may require different surfaces. For example, pad the stretching area and use material that disinfects easily--clients' bodies will be in continIDEA PERSONAL TRAINER Fire Codes Fire codes vary from county to county, state to state, country to country. A typical fire code for a studio or home gym might call for a five- to six-foot access way from the extreme parts of the exercise room to the most external door, as well as a three-foot access way around the internal perimeter of the exercise room (Kroll 1995). Most fire codes are based on occupancy numbers. The local fire department or building inspector will have codes specific to the location. Even if the facility does not hold as many people as the codes require, these safety measures can still be used to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents. Control Center If there is not enough space for an office, a control center is another option. Use the control center to house client programs, medical and contact information and so forth, as well as a computer, printer, telephone and other small items. The center also is an ideal place to display retail items, such as clothing or workout tools. A good control center can help organize a variety of different needs to run a fitness facility. Bathroom A bathroom is a necessity for fitness studios and home gyms. Position it close enough for convenience, but unobtrusive enough for the exercise setting. Depending on facility size and clientele, shower provisions and lockers near or within the bathroom might be useful. Regardless of who is responsible for upkeep, the bathroom must be kept clean. Outlets Electrical outlets must be spaced properly for certain exercise machines, computers, televisions, stereos, cleaning equipment and so forth. Use threepronged plugs for all electrical outlets to eliminate the need for adaptors. Along with electrical outlets, water outlets are a must. Drinking fountains, water coolers, sinks, restrooms and so forth will all be used frequently. A sink with hot and cold water for cleaning, as well as a spigot for mopping, will help with facility upkeep. Storage Locate a storage room or area as close to the facility as possible. Storage areas can never be too large. Consider keeping retail items, such as T-shirts and other apparel here. In addition, consider creating a storage room for extra equipment and tools to maintain the equipment. APRIL 2001 Wall Space Lighting, colors and wall hangings are important in every fitness facility. Aesthetics count. Here are a few pointers: I Studies have shown that natural lighting and neutral earth tones--versus sharp contrasting colors--are more conducive to optimal performance in the workout area (Polson 1995). I Closely examine the location of windows. For example, what direction does the sun rise and set in the area? Avoid letting direct sunlight interfere with workouts. I When determining wall space, think how motivational items such as banners, achievements, records and client testimonials can be positioned. I Many lifting activities require mirrors to aid proper technique. To minimize breakage, hang mirrors higher than the diameter of the largest weight plate (in case a plate drops and rolls). Also, do not locate mirrors directly behind the dumbbell racks. I Hang clocks in highly visible areas. Exercise and rest times demand time monitoring. Make sure digital and standard clocks count seconds. I Post safety instructions, rules and regulations on walls. I Outfit the studio or home gym with one fire extinguisher for every 6,000 square feet. Fire extinguishers must be within 75 feet of travel, according to most fire codes (this figure according to California fire code). Most home gyms and studios will not be near 6,000 square feet, so one fire extinguisher on the premises is enough. When in doubt, ask the area fire department inspector. I Consider installing lockers or cubby holes for clients to store backpacks, clothing and other items. These units help keep items from cluttering up the facility. direct sunlight on activities performed while in the supine position. To keep the room at the optimal training temperature of 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, install a heating and cooling system. Use fans and windows for additional temperature control. Depending on the geographical location of the facility, dehumidifiers might be needed to decrease rust buildup on metal equipment. I Use locks that can be secured quickly at night and opened easily in the morning. Layout Home gym or studio equipment can be organized in many different ways. Equipment can be arranged by body part or by circuit. The free weights can be in one area and the machines in another. As the options are endless, the organization of the space is ultimately the decision of the owner and/or manager of the home gym or studio. Some important things to remember when determining where to put apparatus are: I fire codes I use of added weights I exercises that will be or could be performed on the equipment I self-contained versus free-moving equipment In general, to provide reasonable access, allow a minimum of 20 square feet for most exercise machines. For an Olympic bar, allow at least 1.5 feet of linear space on each end for loading Safety and Security The area around the studio or home gym can have many potential hazards. Parking lots, crosswalks, stairs, building entries, steps and doors all must be designed to limit potential problems. Here are a few tips: I Outfit the facility with proper exterior lighting to reduce the chance of criminal acts against people entering and leaving the facility. I Use handrails on all stairs to limit slip-and-fall injuries. I Clearly label access to all exits. I Install alarms to limit theft and vandalism. Overall Considerations Prior to testing and researching prospective equipment, consider two important things: budget and space. These two items go hand-in-hand when purchasing exercise equipment for a studio or home gym. The equipment desired must fit into both the space provided and within the budget plan. A large budget for equipment is not necessary if the space is small; conversely, if the space is large and the budget small, start out with the minimal equipment needed to adequately train clients and include more as the business grows. Space To determine how much room a studio or home gym has for equipment, take the square footage of space available and divide by two. For example: Space available = 200 square feet; 200

IDEA Personal Trainer , Volume 2002, Issue 4

© 2001 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

R. Porter IDEA Author/Presenter

I am the Department Chair, Exercise Science, Health, Nutrition, & Athletics, and the Director of the Fitness Specialist Certificate Program at Miramar College. In addition to my academic responsibili...