Designed to be Fit – Fitness & Interior Design

They say the psychological state is as important as one’s physical state when it comes to an effective workout. A positive attitude and being in the right state of mind goes a long way towards fitness goals. But how significant is your environment’s impact on the quality of your workout?

According to Carol Finnie, dwp’s Interior Design Portfolio Director based in the UAE, “Naturally our environments impact our disposition, whether consciously or unconsciously. Depending on one’s intention, this can be applied to the fitness industry as well. A space can be designed to impress a dynamic setting, perfect for high energy zones – spinning, HIIT workouts or Crossfit-type classes – where speed and motivation are enhanced. Alternatively, you could create a calm and tranquil environment suitable for more holistic type classes such as yoga, Pilates, etc.” Despite the traditional fitness room following a rectangular shape, they can vary dramatically through the use of innovative materials, the language of colour, specialist lighting and AV systems, all working together to maximize the senses and optimize user experience for its intended purpose.”

And it’s not just designers who share this sentiment. Technogym, leading manufacturer of commercial and home fitness and wellness solutions, has embraced the importance of  design in the workout environment. According to Nerio Alessandri, Founder & President of Technogym, “Design plays a relevant role in wellness; harmony and beauty are always far more attractive to people than basic functionality. For example, if you think about the 1980s and the very basic fitness equipment available at the time, gyms were just a place for true fitness addicts. Its design appeared complicated and could affect people’s vibes. Today, however, thanks to design, attention to detail and ease-of-use, gyms come across as more welcoming to anyone seeking an environment for a good workout.”

In fact, market research that included a study on healthcare facilities and consumer behaviour, revealed a facility’s atmosphere as an important factor affecting how consumers evaluate gyms. The interior design and overall ambiance of the fitness center creates a certain atmosphere that can subconsciously affect one’s psychological state of being. For those involved in the process, take note, and make sure to pick your design as carefully as you pick the equipment.

Most gym owners and fitness center chains favour a more utilitarian approach towards the design and layout of their facilities. But as the current generation of workers become more health conscious, gyms are now being viewed as essential components in the daily life of the professional worker. As such, gyms should start to incorporate stronger hospitality elements into their facilities and should be following design trends that align closely with the well-being policies of modern design.

interior design in fitness
Western Australian Institute of Sport Service Centre by dwp

Use your space wisely

A common mistake is to cram as much equipment as possible into a space, with the intent to seem well equipped to handle a large number of people at the same time. At the onset, it can seem like a smart idea to have as many people as possible so the revenue churns in. But the long-term effect can be negative. The concept of personal space applies when working out as well unless that sphere of comfort is intentionally allowed to be broken.

A well-planned space also makes it seem more airy, which is always a great feeling when working out indoors. High ceilings and ample circulation encourage movement around the space. Even a subtle switch from a dense to an open area would help avoid the ‘boxed-in’ feeling. Your patrons will be thanking you later.

interior design in fitness
Technogym HQ

Acoustics - Getting the right sound levels

Fitness centers can no doubt be noisy. The high tempo music, the sound of machines clinking, and the unsavory sound of the tired grunting of people working out can really throw off your rhythm. And there’s plenty of metal available to reflect sound around the place. But it’s a problem that can be fixed at the start by using acoustic baffles, panels and the right carpeting. Increasing structural mass at walls, ceiling and floors is also something worth looking into.

However, the point of acoustical control is not to eliminate sound, just contain it. A ‘dead’ sounding gym is even worse than a noisy one, and can be disorienting if not for the help of an iPod.  Playing sound at ambient levels, just enough to mask distractions, goes a long way.

Ditch the elaborate color scheme, focus on branding

Throwing some bright and bold colours onto the walls and some motivational quotes or slogans all over the place seem to be the preferred cookie-cutter approach when it comes to picking the colour scheme and the finishing touches of the design. This generic approach is unnecessary and can be overdone, and it fails to give the location any sense of identity with which gym-goers can relate or remember. There’s no one way to do it; busy, bold and bright colours can make your gym feel small and crowded. On the other hand, a look that’s too clean and neutral will make your gym look clinical and lifeless. Even big chains get this wrong sometimes.

A focus on branding is a good way to go about it. Even focusing on different zones with the right messaging can evoke the right atmosphere; a few subtle touches can bring the gym to life. Clever branding is crucial and can contribute to the building of that community.

Include biophilia as much as possible

A good outdoor workout can be absolutely invigorating: the fresh air, the warm sun, and sense of openness can leave you refreshed with a healthy dopamine release. But it’s a luxury we can’t enjoy everywhere with Dubai being one such place. To this extent, incorporating biophilic elements into the workout area does a great job of positively influencing the mental state of those using the space. 

Large windows allowing for plenty of sunlight, plants positioned strategically and natural elements like wood, stone or astroturf do their bit to mimic the outdoors. As a generation with a deeply rooted dependency on technology, a gym of this sort offers a respite from the blue screens of our phones and laptops.  

Interior Design and Fitness
Technogym, New York

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Date added:

27 February, 2023

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