Luxury gyms and the boutique fitness industry have grown in popularity in the past decades, reaching an estimated 35.5 billion dollars valuation in 2021, following a 4.7% growth rate, for the US market alone. There is an increased focus on well-being and regular access to a convenient and private workout space, especially during the pandemic, which has affected the way this industry works.
A luxury gym design goes hand in hand with the performance and achievement of its members. This means designing for, and investing in quality services (personalized training, customized nutrition plans), high-quality materials, and smart gym equipment as these will create value for its clientele and raise the value of the brand. A good luxury gym should inspire its members to have an extraordinary workout and come back for more.
In this article, we will look at 5 key principles to create a successful luxury gym.
1. Biophilic design for high-end gyms
Biophilic (which loosely translates to lover of nature) design, focuses on creating a built environment that is more in tune with nature by implementing vegetation, natural light, and natural materials into the indoor environment. On a fundamental level, it is an approach to architecture that aims to connect occupants more closely to nature. For a gym, that means improving the well-being of the clientele.
Exercise and physical well-being, especially for luxury gyms, require peak conditions to work in, and creating a stronger connection with nature can contribute immensely to the way the customer both feels and the performance of his training. Integrating outdoor elements into the interior design can be achieved in several ways, from using natural light, organic shapes, or a natural colour palette. Beyond creating a strong connection with the outside world, certain high-end gyms have also directly incorporated nature into their designs, by adding live plants or even water features.
Creating a strong connection with the outside is a great starting point, with many luxury gyms having sweeping panoramic views of nature – from snowcapped mountains, softly rolling hills in verdant green, and gorgeous beach views, just to name a few, with some luxury gyms have scenic views of the city skylines in more urban settings. This strong inside-outside connection allows for much better conditions in which clients can conduct their physical training, by creating a great experience that the clients enjoy. Sweeping views not only foster a connection to nature but also allow for generous quantities of natural light to fill up the space, which has a strong impact on our energy levels.
Biophilic design can be structured in a few design patterns.
Firstly, we have a visual connection with nature, which can be achieved by having a direct view of natural elements, such as plants, water, or the landscape. This is further developed by having a non-visual connection with nature, which encompasses auditory, haptic or olfactory stimuli, that create a deliberate and positive reference to natural elements. This can be put into practice by implementing natural features, such as a living green wall or a plant feature. We can both see them, but they also have an impact on the air and atmosphere of the interior space, which is felt in a non-visual manner.
Next, we need to consider thermal and airflow quality. It’s important to have strong ventilation that ensures a high air quality as well as having thermal systems that ensure good temperature control and adequate levels of humidity. This is developed in conjunction with good lighting design, which is a combination of natural light and human-centric artificial light. Natural lighting should be supplemented with quality artificial light, tailored to the activity. In many instances, especially for workout routines, additional lighting is necessary to maintain peak conditions during any time of the day or weather conditions.
Finally, the presence of water enhances the experience of the built environment. The sound and sight of water can have a substantial positive impact on the mental condition and physical performance of gym-goers. This can be paired with the use of high-quality natural materials whenever possible.
The goal of biophilic design is to create a more healthy and productive built environment, which is human-centric. Natural light and strong ventilation to ensure a high air quality are great starting points. The quality of air and the abundance of natural light will require efficient systems installed in place as well as generous windows, both being high-end design features. This will have a direct impact on the workout quality of the clientele, ensuring higher levels of retainment.
2. Luxury materials and details for gyms
A high-end boutique gym should be a complete experience, with everything working in harmony, from the general finishes to the individual dumbbell, coordinated to strengthen the brand and provide a great experience from the start.
Materials make all the difference, especially for luxury developments. Luxury materials need to have unique aesthetic qualities, feel great to the touch and have special properties as well. You can tell when a material is high-end just from looking, but that thought is further reinforced when you touch it and feel it. The idea of luxury however extends far beyond just simple materials, it touches on every detail of the gym.
When a luxury gym is designed special consideration is given to all aspects of the design, from, for example, the material of the walls and floor, to the individual piece of hardware that clients use. Members of luxury gyms can tell when high attention to detail is given to the experience, so special attention should be put into everything, as to not disappoint discerning members. Gym equipment can be customized with a variety of brands, including custom paint and upholstery on commercial equipment to give it a one-of-a-kind look. This allows for the use of high-end materials in the gym’s design and equipment. Creativity can flow for a unique wellness environment, from stunning leather finishes and gorgeous wood to dramatic dark tones and gleaming bronze or steel.
The most important material in a gym design will be the flooring. Gym flooring should be able to withstand heavy traffic and all the activities. It needs to be strong enough to allow for physical activity while minimizing the risk of injuries. Gym flooring is more functional than aesthetic, but there are options to choose from. This same line of thinking also extends to the wall and ceiling finish. While flooring is the most important, that does not mean that the other finishes should not be given care and attention.
Luxury gym flooring options
When it comes to flooring, there are a plethora of options available to choose from, from rubber flooring to hardwood. Ideally, the flooring will depend on the type of physical activity that will happen in the zone, as well as being strong and durable. It’s important to keep in mind that flooring has a direct impact on joint health in time for gym-goers. For example, running on hard surfaces will put more pressure on joints than running on softer surfaces.
Colours play a large role in the design, with vibrant colours, such as red or orange, creating the visual energy that can help members power through a cardio workout, or cool colours, such as blue or green, having an effect to combat overheating.
Mirrors are a vital component in any gym, they help in ensuring proper workout form, while also giving the impression of a larger, brighter room. They’re also practical, helping you to adjust and enhance your form for a more successful workout. The bigger and brighter the mirror, the better! Oversized backlit mirrors will fully change a gym into a luxurious boutique environment.
3. Lighting design for a luxury gym
A common idea among designers is that lighting can make up around 75% of a great design. It’s very difficult to underestimate the impact lighting can have on interior space. This is even more important in the case of a high-end gym interior, where lighting has a direct impact on performance and the well-being of the clients.
Ambiance light can motivate gym members, and as humans, we subconsciously favour establishments with better lighting conditions. This is particularly useful in the case of gym design where the lighting should be at the forefront of the design checklist, due to the strong impact on the clientele and the overall brand aesthetic. Specifically, the type of lighting used will inform the brand aesthetic, as well as the atmosphere.
Warm light can evoke a sense of quiet and relaxation, making a space feel more relaxed. Cooler lighting heightens the senses, making the environment more stimulating, leading to a stronger sense of alertness. Natural light increases serotonin, which is also known as the happy hormone, helping people to have an overall better mood and being more active.
Lighting has a unique effect on the human mind. Humans subconsciously favor establishments with better lighting. This is a trick most often used in interior design and is particularly helpful especially if the luxury gym has several components such as the lobby, gym, spa, restaurant, and a clinic (as most high-end gyms do). For example, lighting in the gym can be cooler to signal the need to be active and productive, while lighting at the spa or the restaurant can be warm to induce relaxation and restfulness.
Lighting can also be paired with music to create specific atmospheres for each activity or gym zone, which will have an additional positive effect on performance, such as for HIIT or body pump routines.
Impact of lighting design
A good example of the impact of light can be seen in yoga studios that use a combination of dimmable, relaxing lighting, along with calming music, to provide a calming oasis. This is a great example of tailoring lighting to a specific type of physical activity. On the other hand, bright lights can be used in high-intensity exercise areas, to get the blood pumping and lead to a more intense workout. Two types of lighting, tailored to different physical activities, to get a better result. Cardio exercises though are much better served with natural light, creating the connection between the exercise and the outdoor environment.
Modern luxury gyms will have a wide range of amenities, with each having a tailored lighting solution, such as the lobby, the various gym spaces dedicated to different activities, restaurants, or spas. Each of these spaces requires its own lighting design to suit the atmosphere, from bright and energetic for high-intensity training, to natural and active for moderate to low-intensity training, to quiet and dimmable for relaxing exercise, and calm for the restaurant and spa area. There is no single unified solution for the entire design in a luxury gym.
4. Layout and spatial design for a luxury gym
Physical training has become increasingly science-driven and specialized in recent times, with a large variety of highly training typologies for each individual. This has also led to a large variety in equipment used, with their own spatial requirements. In this case, creating a comfortable and efficient spatial layout is very important.
Layouts generally lead to more focused workouts and better overall performance for gym-goers, which will also have a positive impact on client retainment. While aesthetics and brand recognition are essential, but a high-end gym should first and foremost be functional. It’s very important to avoid having an overcrowded space with equipment and other clutter that will simply get in the way of training. Zoning establishes clear areas and will require either a reduced number of simultaneous users or larger open spaces, something that can only be seen in high-end gyms.
A good way to implement this is to create a layout that takes into consideration the various zones that are required for various training typologies, as well as the flow through the space. This will create a pleasant and functional layout that can be equipped accordingly for each zone, by structuring the space according to the type of activity. Every zone will be equipped in accordance with the type of workout assigned to it, making the space less cluttered and more structured. A structured space is less chaotic and more pleasant to use for members, making the gym experience more enjoyable and workout-focused. It creates an atmosphere that is conducive to progress and streamlines a member’s journey so that people will get better results and enjoy their experience more.
Luxury gyms will usually have consultants on board to help with the layout and zoning of the gym space. This will ensure optimal placement of every zone in relation to the space that is available. For high-end gyms, prioritizing the layout will ensure that clients get the best result possible, which in turn results in higher member retention and a successful luxury gym.
With zoning, each area is established with a clear purpose, to be member-centric. That might mean designing gyms with larger open spaces.
Best tips for layout and spatial design for gyms
People want to come to the gym and enjoy a stress-free experience, as they are coming either from work or home, and to get some headspace. This is why it is very important to avoid clutter, as it can get in the way of the experience.
The first consideration would be to see which zone will be placed where. For example, having a functional training space next to a stretch area, or a pure strength area next to the reception is not a good combination. Consider how people will train, how they will move about the gym in a training session, what the flow of their workout will look like, and plan around that.
Consider the atmosphere and vibe of each zone, as well as the noise. For example, people that are engaged in yoga or pilates will not want to hear noise coming from a weights area, and hearing a cardio session in the background at the reception area is not ideal. Place sensitive movement areas into certain places to avoid cross-overs, so that members can carry on their workout in the best conditions.
5. Disinfecting and safety considerations for a luxury gym
The COVID-19 pandemic completely altered the way we interact with and use gyms. Continuous cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing the space have become the norm, in order to ensure maximum safety conditions.
Luxury gyms were no strangers to these even before the pandemic, but recent events have managed to bring this, even more, to the forefront. Gymgoers know that simple cleaning will no longer be enough, and more consideration and discipline have to be given to the cleaning routine of the space. Steps should be in place to clean, disinfect and sanitize equipment, doorknobs, and other high-touch areas. This means that material choices are more important, and finding easy-to-clean materials for everything is a priority.
But these are quick fixes that will not suffice in the long run and it’s important that moving forward, luxury gym design also tackles this angle, setting up principles for safer gyms.
High ceilings and open spaces dilute the inside air and make transmission far more difficult. Strong ventilation that continuously circulates the air and controls the air volume, further providing safety.
Potential problem areas, such as locker rooms, should be designed for negative air pressure, meaning that the air in those areas is not recirculated but is exhausted directly away from the people. Humidity levels are also important, with a target interior humidity to be maintained between 40 and 60 per cent, which research shows stop the spread of the virus.
Principles for Successful Luxury Gym Conclusion
All in all, the items covered above ensure that the members and gym-goers will have safe, healthy, and productive exercise sessions that will contribute to the overall guest experience. Gyms are the new places where people gather, even replacing nightclubs and bars.
As we have become aware of our health and have started to focus on our overall fitness and well-being, gyms have also started to become more and more important in the public subconsciousness, culminating with the continuous development of the business. But it has also created competition and put pressure on high-end gyms to find new ways to generate value and build their client base.
These steps will help any gym move from average to luxurious, focusing on giving its clients a unique experience.