How to create the perfect gym

Andy Gill is the MD of Ethics Leisure, a leading fitness consultancy with specific expertise in gym floor design. Over the past 20 years Andy has advised more than 200 facilities on equipment procurement, mix and layout.

We spoke to Andy about what to consider when creating your gym and how industry trends are affecting gym design.


The Fitness Network:

What are the key things to consider when creating or refurbishing a gym?


The most crucial consideration is ‘what’s the best use of the sq footage to generate a return on your investment?’ Historically gyms used to apply the 60% cardio, 40% strength formula but this is no longer the go-to calculation. Major operators, particularly budget gyms are reducing their cardio provision in favour of small group training zones and are turning to data analysts to provide a more scientific approach to equipment choice.

“understand your demographic”

Other key considerations include offering consumer choice, catering for your PTs and choosing stand-out equipment. With fitness being such a busy marketplace, it’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd and the right equipment can give you a competitive edge.

Tread carefully when choosing trends and innovation though, understand your demographic and be sure they are going to engage before you purchase.

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How do you decide on the right equipment mix?


Data is the key to getting the right Ethics Leisure Stretching Spaceequipment mix. Commission research into
areas like latent demand, market penetration and competitor analysis.  Don’t be tempted towards your own personal preference, listen to the data and don’t be afraid to take all the best aspects from other facilities to create the most successful space.

Aim to create an experience on the gym floor, choose equipment where members can work out together – rigs, matted areas, functional zones – to generate a buzz, but ensure it’s something that works as well when it’s staffed as when it isn’t, like the Elevate Circuit, which has proved to be a great solution for clubs in the US and is coming to the UK soon.

When it comes to strength, selectorised equipment is a dying breed. Each piece of equipment comes with a large footprint yet only facilitates one exercise. But it’s not just as simple of replacing it with functional equipment.  Rigs are excellent but they have a huge footprint and are generally only used by PTs and the ‘20%ers’, what I call your fitness experts. Multifunctional equipment which can offer a multitude of different exercises offers a potentially greater ROI.  For each piece of equipment you consider, think about what it offers in terms of number of exercise applications and opportunities for progression / regression.

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What are the key considerations for layout?


Some suppliers will try to cram as much as possible into your gym layout so ask an independent company to create 3D layouts of the space and a 3D walkthrough.

‘Flow’ is important, think about how you want members to journey through the gym and create points which encourage interaction with staff and other members. If you get it right it can help ease pressure on popular equipment at busy times.

Zoning is an important tool.  Distinct zones can be created using artwork, lighting or coloured upholstery for example. Facility ambience, equipment variety and the whole member visit experience is absolutely critical to differentiate you from your competitors.

“Zoning is an important tool.”

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How does gym design affect retention?


Keeping your members on track towards their fitness goals is the number one retention tool.  Equipment plays an essential role in this and you should consider both choice and progression.

If you provide a wide range of varied equipment which can be used by everyone, whether they are a beginner or an expert, you are onto a winner.  This is particularly prudent in smaller facilities, when equipment choice is limited by sq footage. Think about how you can use programming, education and accessories to make your equipment work for all your members.

Future proofing is another important consideration for keeping members engaged. Create options for adapting the space in the future and ensure the infrastructure is in place from the start to make it easy to change things around. Also make sure your equipment’s software can be updated remotely by the supplier and that those updates are free or included in your contract.

The Fitness Network:

How can you create opportunities for ROI / secondary spend?


Secondary spend is often an afterthought for operators but it should be considered from the outset.  It can help justify the cost of a more expensive stand out piece of kit that might not otherwise be possible.  Small group training and premium classes on kit like Power Plates or Total Gyms is still a viable way to generate ROI from equipment purchases.

PTs and instructors are the single biggest driver of secondary spend on the gym floor so their equipment needs should always be considered in the mix.  PTs drive the use of your equipment so getting their buy-in to new purchases is absolutely crucial.

“PTs and instructors are the single biggest driver of secondary spend on the gym floor”


Posted in Gyms & Clubs, Interviews, Most Popular Interviews, The Fitness Network.