Answers to Your Pressing Gym Design Questions

How large should your locker rooms be? How much should you budget for a remodel? Four design experts share their advice.

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The success of your health club depends in part on making the most of your available space. Here are some tough questions you need to ask yourself before remodeling or designing your next gym.

How often should I freshen up my health club's design?

Hervey Lavoie, architect and president of Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative, recommends that every health club maintain a five-year plan and re-examine it every six months. Lavoie offered that the most important thing is to not paint yourself into a corner.

"You should think ahead, and embark on each group of enhancements with the next wave of improvements in mind," he said. "This approach minimizes the chance that this year's carpet replacement project will be undone by next year's expansion of the childcare area. Looking beyond your current needs will also allow you to allocate your capital improvements budget more effectively."

How much space should I devote to locker rooms?

"As a rule of thumb, the quick answer is in general about 12-15% of the overall club size, meaning if you have a 20,000-square-foot club, the total size dedicated to both locker rooms may be between 2,400-3,000 square feet total, or about 1,000-1,500 square feet each," said Rudy Fabiano, architect for Fabiano Designs.

"Likewise, a 60,000-square-foot facility may have between 3,500 and 4,500 square feet for each locker room," he added. "These are base numbers that should get modified depending on the various factors." If your health club has a pool, for example, that would increase the need for locker facilities.

Should I devote equal space to men's and women's locker facilities?

That depends. "If there is a much larger percentage of either of the sexes, the size of the changing areas should reflect that difference," said Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., owner of Fitness Resources Consulting Services. Health clubs can save additional space by installing unisex bathrooms.

“As a rule of thumb, the quick answer is in general about 12-15% of the overall club size, meaning if you have a 20,000-square-foot club, the total size dedicated to both locker rooms may be between 2,400-3,000 square feet total, or about 1,000-1,500 square feet each.”

Rudy Fabiano, Architect

Fabiano Designs

How much should I budget per square foot?

Again, that depends. Fabiano said that costs can run anywhere from $35 per square foot for a basic CrossFit studio to $200 per square foot for a group cycling studio. You also need to factor in membership fees and your club's anticipated capacity. Then do the math.

What's the biggest design mistake that health club owners make?

Not providing enough storage space. Mats, partitions, basketballs, kettle bells—you need to put them somewhere when you're not using them. If you don't include enough storage space, your health club will look cluttered and disorganized.

As designer Bryan Dunkelberger told Club Business International, "No client has ever said, 'I could have used half the storage you provided.'"

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IHRSA Staff @IHRSA

This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.