Whether planning the layout of your strength and conditioning equipment in a high school, college or recreation area, three key factors will influence the choice and placement of equipment: the safety of those using it, the space available to place it, and the functionality and flow of the room to serve your program or population.
With so many options available to support every area of a strength and conditioning program, working with a knowledgeable representative can be a significant asset to planning a weight room or gym. As an east coast territory manager for Dynamic Fitness & Strength, I am not just a sales representative, but a consultant who will listen to and understand the needs and goals of a program, then help find the optimum balance of safety and functionality within a space.
An easy mistake that can be made is to focus too much on the aesthetics of a layout when planning a weight room or fitness center. Although the wow-factor of a room is important to motivate your students, athletes or fitness customers, the size, shape and features of a room will often dictate certain decisions.
Making Room For Racks
Most often in a modern weight room, the layout is built around the racks, and where the racks go will depend on the room’s specifications. The number of racks will be primarily determined by what the room will accommodate, allowing for proper spacing to ensure safety. Distance between racks will depend on the specific program, but a general suggestion is to leave six feet between racks.
For square rooms, racks are often placed along walls with no windows, especially when large enough to accommodate central room activity. However, another option would be to go with double half racks down the middle of the room to avoid blocking windows or other structural elements. Controlling room flow may also be a deciding factor.
For rectangular rooms, racks often run down the middle, which helps to create two lanes of activity (avoiding central congestion) and promote better flow. However, one recent install I was involved with has an L-shaped room. The large, long space has no windows, so racks run along both walls. At the 90-degree turn, that space has windows on the left wall, so it was the best place to locate dumbbell racks and annex storage while not impeding the view. On the back wall across from the 90 degree are lat pulldowns, low rows and GHDs.
Unusual room shapes, in particular, can face the challenge of limited space verses specific needs. Often, focusing on combo units and equipment with multiple attachment features are the best solutions to maximize space and functionality. Unique storage solutions may also be applied to avoid clutter and optimize space.
Visualizing The Room – And The Program
The advantage of state-of-the-art 3D room renders dramatically improves the planning process. As long as accurate and detailed room specifications can be provided, a coach or facility owner or trainer can view photo-realistic and spatially-accurate representations of a room layout from any vantage point.
For me, however, it’s not enough to know what coaches or trainers tell me they want and need, or how the room looks. If possible, I love to sit in on workouts and observe the programs or activities in action. What I observe gives me a much deeper understanding of each location’s needs based on how the training programs are run and can drastically affect how I work with them to plan their facility.
Going With The Flow
I’ve referenced flow several times. Here’s a great example of how a particular program’s flow can affect a room’s layout. Back in 2017, Dynamic Fitness & Strength installed a weight room at a university. The layout worked fantastic for the strength coach at the time, whose program was more Olympic in structure.
In 2019, a new coach arrived with an updated program and found he needed to adjust the layout to accommodate his program. One change, for example, was removing the annex storage from between the racks, since athletes were spending more active time in that space. The annex storage was relocated off to the side.
When you see or hear us mention the phrase, “More Strength Per Square Foot,” this is really what we’re talking about. It’s not just a promise to our schools and gyms; it’s a prime objective as we work closely with each location to determine the equipment and layout that maximizes both safety and functionality.
Kevin Mattocks has been in the fitness and wellness industry for over 23 years. Kevin studied exercise science at North Carolina Central University and Carson-Newman University, recognizing early on the value of a strong strength and conditioning program. After college, Kevin was the athletic director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County before opening his own fitness centers—XL Fitness and Wellness Centers—in 2005. With 3 location in the Raleigh-Durham area, Kevin attained a wealth of knowledge on gym flow, performance and strategy. After the sale of the fitness centers, he transitioned to nutrition and equipment sales. You can reach Kevin at email@example.com or 919-308-1950.