Creating a fitness suite, or gym in an educational setting can be simple or complicated depending on your experiences and access to expertise.
A fitness suite in a school environment will give students the opportunity to try out exercises that they would not traditionally do in school. Gym equipment such as cardio machines and weights have been and still can be viewed by many as adult activities yet are in fact as beneficial to younger students. As long as they are used correctly and within recommended safety guidelines, a fitness suite will give students the ability to maintain a healthy body weight, build strength and build their confidence!
Some students who are not fond of traditional or team sports may feel more motivated and comfortable using a fitness suite. Celebrities and sporting idols play a huge part in social identity and the use of fitness suites are becoming more attractive to all age groups. Adapting your existing environment to facilitate a gym / fitness suite may really see an increase in student engagement when it comes to exercise.
If you don’t have an existing fitness suite or capacity within your sports facilities to create one, then it may be worth considering unused classrooms! Considerations such as hardwearing, durable flooring should be noted when designing your suite, but your designer will help guide you through the best options for your facilities.
A Community Space?
When creating a fitness space for a PE setting there are several things to consider. The first is whether your facility will also be open to the public? This is an opportunity overlooked by many schools and can be an excellent source of additional income for the school, college, or university.
If choosing to open your facilities to the community, there are several equipment considerations such as providing a slightly different mix of weights and kit to also cater for adults and those who are regular gym-goers.
This strategic decision will create opportunities and opens opportunities to apply for grants to help fund the investment. The Sport England website is a useful source of information if looking for funding opportunities and availability: View Sport England.
How will I use a Fitness Suite?
These are some frequently asked questions to consider:
- Will there be a class full of students, or small groups or individual access to the suite?
- Will access be granted t students after the school day?
- How will I set out the lesson objectives, is there enough space to demonstrate how to use the equipment?
- Is there a need for a collaboration or presentation space?
- How do I store equipment in the space?
The guidance from Sport England is that a gym size fitness suite should be a minimum of 25m2, with a minimum ceiling height of 2.7m but recommends 3.5-4m as the optimum height.
An additional consideration is the layout of fitness space. This is usually broken down into the following areas:
- Stretch area – for warming up and cooling down, usually taking up 10% of the space
- Cardiovascular area – these usually take up about 40% of the room
- Free weight/resistance area – these areas are usually about 50% of the room
In general, the space requirements per area are explained in the below table.
For more detailed information please see the fitness & exercise guidance from Sport England.
More than just equipment
As well as selecting a range of equipment for your fitness suite, WF Education also recommends including additional elements designed specifically for education such as lockable mobile storage, lockers, and cupboards, as well as seating areas for lesson objective setting, presentation, and review. We include writable surfaces, pinboards and graphics to create an engaging space for young people.
Interested in designing your Fitness Suite?
WF provides a turnkey service to provide a dedicated space for health and fitness in educational settings. Not only a space for fitness, but we create spaces for collaboration, attainment, settling learning objectives to support the development and educational outcomes for all students.
We combine storage and display elements with quality equipment to create unique spaces, into existing or new builds.
Get in touch with WF Education if you would like to learn more about setting up or refurbishing a fitness suite:
Checklist for designing your fitness suite
1. Consider opening my fitness facility up to the local community
This can be an excellent revenue stream and community relationship booster
2. Consider a holistic teaching approach
Will there be a class full of students? How will I set out the lesson objectives aligned to the space? Is there enough space to demonstrate how to use the equipment? Is there a need for a collaborative learning area?
3. Have I considered minimum space requirements for a fitness suite?
Sport England have great guidance on setting up your space http://direct.sportengland.org/media/4203/fitness-and-exercise-spaces.pdf
4. Consider workout zones and equipment?
A variety of areas will be required for users (community and/or students). Equipment size and circulation space in each zone will vary. Standard fitness suite zones include a stretch area, cardiovascular and resistance area, and free-weights.
5. Look at storage and changing areas
Especially for community spaces and the ability to secure belongs with minimal risk. Weights and free items such as mats may need to be stored and cleaned regularly. Consider mobile storage solutions for storing away equipment quickly and easily, in line with busy timetables.