Turning Your Office Fitness Center Into an Asset
Kari Frontera in Health and Wellness, Wellbeing in the Workplace, Workplace Design
Gensler office

Most buildings have one, though it’s usually tucked into leftover basement space like a neglected piece of furniture. Such is the plight of corporate fitness center: Underutilized and musty smelling, they don’t tend to see much activity, and if they do, it’s hardly an enjoyable experience.

Fitness centers do not generate direct revenue and it is not the first thing tenants look for when leasing space. However, the fitness center can be an asset that sets your building apart from others for that very reason.

Fitness and wellness are now critical issues in corporations everywhere. Successful companies understand the correlation between healthy employees and productivity. Wellness plans are beginning to include fitness incentives in benefits packages. Corporate fitness centers can easily answer a need for a convenient workout option.

It’s time to move the corporate fitness center out of the basement and breathe some much needed life into this traditionally underutilized space. One reason that most people don’t use corporate facilities is they are uninspiring places, typically out of site and therefore out of mind.

Design Principle #1: Let there be light.

Natural lighting improves performance. As widely illustrated in studies ranging from academic performance to faster recovery times in hospitals, it is well know that natural light has a positive effect on the human body. Sunlight directly affects the levels of serotonin and the hormone melatonin in the body resulting in feeling calm, alert and reducing depression tendencies. Also, people are more drawn to facilities with natural light so locate the facility along the perimeter of the building with windows.

Design Principle #2: Show them what they are missing.

People are not comfortable entering fitness areas that they can’t see what is going on. Perceived safety and security are paramount to creating an enticing environment.

Gensler office

Provide a space where people can see the activity taking place inside without compromising users’ anonymity. Achieving a balance of transparency and privacy is important. Consider a design including translucent screens that you can see people inside and sense the activity, but not be able to identify the individuals.

And make sure the center is located on a well traveled path. No you may not put it in the basement.

Design Principle #3: Provide sturdy, well maintained equipment and provide a purpose to go.

You don’t have to purchase the most current state of the art equipment. There are many fitness sources that offer quality equipment on a leasing plan. This allows you to rotate in new equipment as well as have a maintenance plan in place.

Building owners often opt to buy the equipment outright because it is less expensive but when the equipment breaks it sits for a long period of time with no maintenance. That is when you start to lose your clientele, as they fall out of regular fitness routines.

In addition, you need to activate the space. Variety is critical in whether or not people stick with an exercise. Consider offering group exercise classes. It not only ties in the social aspect of exercise but it also encourages activity at specific times of the day. You may even find that some of your employees are actually already fitness instructors so your staffing needs may be easy to fill.

Kari Frontera secretly desires to one day turn every workplace into a gym thus eliminating the excuse of not having the time/opportunity to fit in a workout. Believing that the world’s problems can be solved through sport, she strives to bring in an element of recreation to every project. Kari is the Southeast region’s practice area leader in Sports and is always willing to discuss the intricacies of recreation and fitness facilities. Contact her at kari_frontera@gensler.com.
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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