Over the past few weeks I have been redesigning a facility that I'll see all my athletes (performance) and clients (health) out of.
Interestingly, Suki Hobson was going through a similar situation, only hers was with the Milwaukee Bucks and (I am only guessing here) but I'd imagine her budget was slightly bigger.
Anyway, below are some processes I went through that might help you with your facility.
Before reading further, it is suggested you understand the Lindy Effect. Trust me, this will help you.
1) Know thyself, know thy athlete
Having a clear idea what your training philosophies are and who the facility is designed for is the best place to start.
Weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, bodyweight circuits, bodybuilding... These are just some of the paradigms which might influence your training and dictate what equipment is "have to have" and what equipment is 'nice to have'.
Knowing who are clientele is also imperative. Do you need the Eleiko bars and plates or are the cheaper CrossFit/Chinese brands sufficient? Is it worth having the 70kg dumbbells or will they just gather dust? Are you designing a sport-specific or a general-athlete facility?
2) Measure, Draw, Plan
While my skills in AutoCAD aren't abysmal, the easiest method I have found to plan for the facility:
- Draw a map of the facility to scale.
- (Over) Estimate how much space each piece of equipment will take up (including an adequate safety zone around the equipment), draw each piece and name it (e.g. Bench Press, Platform 1, etc.)
- Cut out equipment and place it on the map.
Now you have a way of visualising where everything can go without having to lug it around.
3) Allocate Floor Space
After your Coaches, this is your second most valuable commodity.
Running, skipping, hopping, lunging, bridging, throwing, crawling... These are movements and exercises that could benefit most athletes without requiring additional equipment.
However, without sufficient space you are unlikely be able to do anything of them.
4) Allocate Wall Space
Another of the under-valued commodities in a gym: wall space.
So good for med-ball (and other) throws, hooks for suspension trainers (think: TRX), chin up bars, stretching stations...
Make sure you keep some of your wall space free.
5) Apply the Heuristic: No Single Function equipment
If you've got an unlimited budget and unlimited space skip to the next section.
If you're like the rest of us, keep reading.
Equipment takes up space whether you're using it or not (keep reading for more gems on the physical nature of matter).
It is therefore essential that your equipment is either multifunctional or is easily stored.
For example, consider the Bench Pull (pictured below).
A great exercise, no doubt, but is it worth the 4 to 6 square metres it takes up? Especially when you consider the alternatives: bent over row, fat man chin up, 1 arm row, etc. The equipment required for each of these exercises can be used for a host of alternative exercises.
Or compare that to the Torsinator, which can be used for a multitude of exercises and then can be packed away when not needed.
6) Plan for Storage
Storage is often a forgotten, or at least underrated, aspect of the gym. And most people only realise it once it's too late.
Your first type of storage is for your equipment. Think: weight-trees, toaster racks, barbell holders, etc. Not only do they take up space, they also need to be easily accessible.
You're also going to need a place for your tool boxes, repair kits, first aid, back-up equipment and cleaning equipment.
Make sure these are in the plan and the necessary space is accounted for.
7) Create a Place for Everything
It is inevitable that you and your staff are going to have to return some equipment to its rightful place, but if you have a specific place for each piece of equipment it reduces the work load considerably.
Take for example dumbbells. I always ensure the racks have cradles that the DBs can be stored. It's a simple but fairly effective way of keeping the pairs together.
It makes it easier for the equipment to be found, returned and to notice if anything is missing.
8) Signs Save Time
Not all of your athletes will follow them but enough will to make it worthwhile.
Consider signs for your DBs (2.5kg, 5kg, etc.); for where you want the plates to go on your weight trees, or where to store your bands, foam rollers, etc.
(Re)Designing a facility is an exciting challenge that doesn't come around too frequently. Make sure you nail it first time.
Hopefully you can learn from some of my many mistakes and have a fantastic facility for your athletes and client to train out of.
As with everything, if you have any comments, queries or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact us.
Grant Jenkins is a Physical Performance Coach who has had the privilege of running 3 awesome facilities. For more information follow him on Twitter @Grant_Jenkins.