For any gym, the weight room is the heartbeat of your business.
It’s where you’ll find your most dedicated, goal-orientated and committed members. These core members, a mixture of strength trainers and bodybuilders, are a tight-knit community. They inhabit Internet forums, use social media and aren’t afraid to talk to their buddies who use other gyms. If you give them the best weight room in town, they’ll make sure people know about it.
You need to keep them happy.
That’s not to talk down the value of your members who are into other things, but if you don’t get your weight room right, it’ll impact the culture and reputation of your gym.
You also need to make the room a valuable space for members who may just be graduating from light gym usage and are now setting some serious strength and conditioning goals of their own. The weight room is the business end of your gym, so it’s essential to get the most from the space. Here’s how.
Things to consider when you setting up your weight room
How you set up your weight room dictates the flow, the vibe and the profitability of your gym. When you have people waiting in line to use a piece of equipment, they can get disgruntled. It’s one of the most common complaints gym users have and it’s a good reason for them finding somewhere else to work out.
So you need to set up your weight room to maximise space allowing the optimal amount of people training in there safely.
Not only are these essential for safety (dumbbells lying around on the ground are a lawsuit waiting to happen), they help people find what they’re looking for quickly. A polite notice on the wall asking members to put things back where they found them really does make a difference.
You’ll want a sturdy steel rack that you can bolt into the floor. A lot of gyms position the rack in front of the mirror, so people can stay focused when picking up different weights.
One is essential, but, if you have room for two, all the better. You can position these off to the side, against a wall. Remember to leave enough room to slide a bench underneath for chest presses.
Speaking of benches, go for the adjustable type with casters, that way you can have fewer of them. Making them easier to move around means you don’t need as many, as members can switch from bench press and squats using the same rack.
Pull up bars
Not everything in your weight room needs to be heavy. Pull up bars are an often overlooked feature of a weight room. Probably because gym owners don’t adopt a training mindset when setting up their weight room. They want to stock it with as much iron as possible.
But pull up bars form an essential part of a heavy lifting workout. Strength trainers love to punctuate heavy lifting with chin-ups to maximise their output. A superset of squats, with chin-ups in between sets, is a popular way to squeeze more value out of every minute in the weight room. Don’t leave your members having to wander into the stretching area to do their pull-ups.
Add customer value with some weight lifting accessories
The gym industry is competitive, and since your weight room is where the influencers in your local tend to be, it pays to go the extra mile here. Supplying accessories that gym users are used to bringing in themselves may not be a big expense, but it sends a great message to your user base.
A few weightlifting belts provided free of charge show your members two things; that you care about their safety and health, and that you value their business. Most serious strength trainers will have their own, but people can be forgetful. If you really want to delight your members, provide a wet wipe dispenser too so they can clean off the belt before and after use.
It’s not all about iron - weighted items can add a huge amount of value and help your members mix up their repertoire in the weight room.
Medicine balls are great for warm ups, warm downs and for when people are easing off on their intensity. They’re also great because they don’t take up a lot of space and they’re virtually impossible to damage.
Sandbags are a great choice too. They’re the ideal training tool for people who are looking to add an element of endurance and stamina to their routine.
It needs to be robust enough to withstand the odd dropped kettlebell, without being brittle. Avoid laminate and tile at all costs and consider a mix of concrete, hardwood and cushioned rubber tiles.
These are really helpful when positioned under pull-up bars or any equipment that might require a soft landing. You’ll also want your flooring to be easy to clean and non-porous. If you’ve smelt carpet a week after a protein shake spillage, you’ll know why...
If your fire escape is located in the weight room, you’ve got to make sure that nothing (NOTHING!) obstructs it. It’s absolutely essential to plan your weight room layout for safety, above everything else.
Once you’ve got everything set up for safety and to maximise your floor space real estate - find out more about doing these here - you can start to think about aesthetics. Mirrored walls are great for making the room feel bigger, but they also help with form too.
You can also make color work in your favor too, with simple ideas like color-coding different areas of the weight room. Check out our article on the most inspiring gym floor plan layouts of 2017 for ideas.