Reprinted: Club Solutions Magazine | Author: Bryan Green, Founder-CEO, Aktiv Solutions

To develop truly functional commercial exercise space, both the end-user and the facility operator’s objectives need be considered throughout the design process. It takes strong planning to clarify the objectives of both audiences sufficiently. The process of initiating an effective functional design plan begins with the goal of the project: a clear direction as to what it is to be accomplished and why. It should also be noted that despite an operator’s best intention for the use of the space, staff and end-users often take alternative direction once it becomes their daily domain. After all, this is the fitness business and people do the darnedest things inside the four walls of a gym.

Rarely is the end-user represented directly in the operator’s functional design process. Therefore, their needs must be best anticipated and deeply imagined. A functional design professional who specializes in the planning and development of exercise spaces must vividly imagine his/her use of the equipment and tools within the environment so as to ensure a tight integration with equipment, other users and additional facility constraints.

Functional Fitness

To be clear, the exercise principles and considerations of functional fitness include: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, balance and core stability. Functional fitness exercises train the body’s systems (skeletal, muscular, nero) to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements done at home, work or in sport.

Functional Design

A functional design plan establishes focus on the efficiency and usability of a given space for its intended purpose. It is concerned with the size of the fixtures (equipment) and the working room required during their utilization. It must address the total number of people occupying the area at a given time and if and how they interact together. Functional design accounts for adjacencies and usage type of all objects and how they relate to one another. Further, the plan must concern itself with the existing constraints of the space, including elevations, area, lighting, plumbing, electrical, noise and applicable floor covering aspects.

For perspective, an interior designer is concerned with styling, textures, floor and wall coverings, and all related areas of esthetic and sensory interaction with the users. Therefore, a functional design specialist is more specifically focused on the interaction of the space with those that will utilize it for both its intended and unintended purposes.

Functional Fitness Design 

Combining these principles as they apply to both the facility design and anticipated movement patterns of its guests is the skill set of a Functional Fitness Design Specialist. He/she is skilled in the art of integrating the exercise considerations of functional fitness with the design principles of functional design.

The following five areas are important consideration when establishing an effective functional design for commercial exercise space in order of priority:

  • Exercise Balance
  • Equipment Arrangement
  • Adjacencies
  • Environment
  • Efficiency

When effective planning and design are incorporated to support today’s modern training spaces, a beautiful synergy emerges that ensures safety, traffic flow, consistency in programming and strong client engagement.