95% of people’s New Year’s Resolutions are fitness and health related, so how can we as designers help people reach their new goals? Before the pandemic, gyms and fitness clubs would see a significant increase in membership in January. Now that we are in the second year of the pandemic, we’ve seen a shift in how people exercise and stay healthy. Over the last two years, in-home gyms and online classes have taken off. But, what about those who prefer to workout by joining an in-person class? What are the steps fitness and recreational centers can take to make members feel safe and want to come back? How should we design to plan for the recently created social distancing habits and any new, unpredictable circumstances?
This pandemic has proven that health and wellness is important to people now more than ever. It is in everyone’s best interest to fight against this virus and any illness. Therefore, we must design facilities that factor in health and flexibility. People want to be in control of their well-being yet feel motivated and inspired.
A key factor is providing a space that is open and spacious to allow social distancing of equipment. In addition, implementing tall ceilings is vital for ventilation and airflow. Large windows bring in natural daylight and provides the sense of exercising outside. But fitness centers are taking it one step further by providing spaces that transition from indoors to outdoors, allowing fresh air to ventilate the space and providing a unique area for weight training, cardio, turf zones, and more. With current health concerns, coordinating mechanical becomes a large component in controlling indoor ventilation. Increasing the rating of filters and installing efficient units is an important design element to communicate to MEP consultants.
With the constant changing in needs for gym visitors it is important to prepare for the rearranging of fitness zones to not only provide an abundance of electrical options for equipment but also materials. From solid surface flooring for easy cleaning to anti-microbial matting to provide cushion in free weight and stretch zones, the finishes chosen can not only help with mitigating the spread of germs but also better enforce zoning to prevent the moving of equipment across gyms preventing clutter while creating dedicated areas and reducing contact between gym members. Selecting materials that are dual purpose or easily removed and reused can be detrimental for gym management.
Fixtures in the restrooms, in addition to any products provided throughout the facility, like hand sanitizer stations, should be hands free. Anti-viral materials continue to be introduced and are best to specify when possible. Tile and solid surface already possess these properties and are installed in most facilities. Graphics and wayfinding can also play an important role in today’s health centers. Installing signage that displays the COVID regulations and cleanliness of the center provides members a sense of security and awareness.
How can we make health centers flexible? Many communities are requesting multi-purpose rooms to host different forms of activities. We’ve seen how the pandemic can alter business plans so it is vital to have multi-functional rooms that can function as different spaces throughout the day. For example, a studio that holds fitness classes can also be converted into a meeting and event room or a nutritional class to promote healthy eating to its members.
No matter your fitness goals for the new year it’s safe to say there are plenty of options out there that include safely returning to the gym and environments that offer a strong sense of community for health-focused individuals to connect. With conscious fitness design, people can continue to motivate each other while still being smart. Let us know what features in your gym just make sense this year!
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JZ Design Group is capable of multidisciplinary design and architecture, with a team ready to take on any challenge. We bring quality, care and extensive experience to each project and look forward to our future opportunities.
Posted: February 1, 2022