With recent data revealing that a shocking 62% of UK adults are overweight or obese, ensuring your gym is welcoming and appealing has never been so important. But from cardio-crazy gym veterans to testosterone-pumping bodybuilders, gyms can be an understandably intimidating environment for out-of-shape newbies and atypical gym-goers.
So here, courtesy of Tom Brialey (the Founder and Director of Action Storage), are a few smart ways you can ensure your gym is fully inclusive, regardless of age, gender or ability.
Let’s take a closer look…
The changing rooms
As gym-users’ first port of call, your changing rooms require a thoughtful and considered design to project a welcoming and reassuring feel.
Providing private changing facilities through the inclusion of individual cubicles is an effective way to give peace of mind to body-conscious novices. Likewise, ditching the communal open showers for private cubicle showers is a smart approach that will ensure members with less body confidence don’t feel uncomfortable.
In addition to the usual male and female changing facilities, consider installing a gender-neutral option for members who don’t identify within the standard gender groupings. As society becomes increasingly aware and accommodating with regards to the concept of gender identity, being at the forefront of this societal change and protecting the needs of this demographic will undoubtedly create an inclusive and reassuring workout environment.
Having sufficient storage solutions to meet the various requirements of your members is also of vital importance. Ensuring your changing rooms are stacked with practical and spacious storage lockers is our top tip here, supplying ample storage room to easily stow away extra items such as personal possessions, changes of clothes or even religious wear.
Keep easy access at the forefront of your design
Designing your gym layout with accessibility at the forefront of your mind will enable older and disabled guests to use your facilities with ease.
Simple and logistical design elements such as ramps, lifts and banisters are imperative to any gym environment, and should be clearly labelled and easy to navigate. Once inside, providing handrails at the side of your gym equipment enables less mobile members to comfortably get on and off more awkward equipment, such as rowing machines.
Create a ‘starter area’
With a recent study showing more than half of Brits don’t know how to use a gym, and a further 23% of adults being too embarrassed to use gym equipment, creating a non-intimidating ‘starter area’ is a smart way to put any concerns to rest.
In this space, house self-explanatory gym equipment such as treadmills and exercise bikes as an easy introduction. Store lighter dumbbells in the weights area and, if at all possible, have a staff member on hand at all times to offer guidance when needed.
Of course, there are financial incentives to creating an inclusive gym environment. Put simply, the more people your gym facility appeals to, the more long-term members you’re likely to gain. However, as gym owners, this should only be an added bonus – any fitness enthusiast should want anyone and everyone to feel welcome on the journey towards a happier and healthier tomorrow.