How fitness centers are designed to maximize wellness

Hotel guests expect fitness centers to have a range of exercise machines—stationary bikes, treadmills, cardio and elliptical machines, at least. The selection of these machines can depend on the targeted demographic, with different equipment appropriate for short-term business travelers and long-term transient guests. 

Cardio equipment is good for business-focused guests, according to Glenn Colarossi, director of global hospitality at True Fitness Technology. “We found if a guest’s average stay is 1.5 days, they want to use a cardio machine because they have been on mass transit,” Colarossi noted. When guests stay for more than three days, he added, weights and dumbbells become more popular. “When it comes to bikes, recumbents are more popular,” he said, although upright bikes continue to be popular in European hotels.  

Setting up the machines within the space can also be an important factor and a challenge, said David Diehl, global director of hospitality sales at fitness equipment manufacturing company Precor. For example, electrical machines must be close to outlets, but having cables running all over the room is unadvisable, to say the least. “Good cable management is crucial in creating a clean, unobtrusive exercise environment,” Diehl said. With more machines offering entertainment options, Diehl suggested that hotels add CAT 6 cabling, which can handle the increased electrical demands. Also, one electrical outlet per machine is ideal, he said.

A designer may be tempted, when creating a fitness center for a room with large windows, to have equipment face outside—but Colarossi recommends making sure that sunlight won’t be overwhelming, and that if machines have built-in TVs, to be sure that the light won’t create a distracting glare. (To that end, not every machine needs a TV, Colarossi said: “Some people just want to listen to their own music.”)

Other important factors to consider when designing a fitness center include ceiling height (“The higher the ceiling, the better. It’s more inviting,” Colarossi said), a system to keep the room’s humidity below 50 percent (vital when people are sweating) and to keep air exchanges at eight to 12 per hour, with appropriate exhaust. “You also have to consider lighting and sound because everyone has different preferences,” Colarossi said.