The Key to a Successful Fitness Center: Planning


In the ongoing effort to meet the demands of your customers and ultimately, their customers, it’s important to consider some of the basic considerations that can make or break the success of a hospitality-based fitness facility. With project budgets always of paramount concern, overlooking these considerations in the early going can prove extremely costly.

Spatial Planning

First and foremost, it’s critical that the fitness center layout afford enough space to accommodate the volume of end users. This is one of the most common miscalculations made in advance of construction. Whether due to outdated data, poor availability of data, or just inaccurate projections, professionals consistently underestimate fitness center usage rates at around five to 10 percent. In reality, due to so many fitness conscious and active-lifestyle consumers, usage rates are typically at anywhere from 15 to 20 percent (roughly one in five guests). It’s always a wise move to give the fitness center room to grow and evolve as usage rates increase and customer demand changes.

Electrical and Entertainment “Feed” Placement

It’s critical to anticipate and carefully chart the layout of electrical wiring and feed locations for the fitness center. Tearing up concrete to adjust an electrical layout after a mistake in placement is something that can take your budget into the stratosphere. This has become an increasingly significant consideration with the rapid growth of fitness entertainment amenities. Today, consumers expect to enjoy personal viewing screens, audio headsets and other entertainment features. This requires direct cable or satellite feeds to each and every treadmill or elliptical trainer that features personal audio or viewing screens.

Bottom line: consider these electrical placement issues carefully well in advance of pouring concrete.


The location of the fitness center within the greater confines of the facility is a critical decision. No one wants to feel cramped or suffocated when exercising. Expanded floor space and ceiling heights to increase air circulation and mobility are essential. A drab and lifeless environment will only encourage guests to find another place to exercise. It’s also important to consider guest safety. Female guests in particular will appreciate a well-lit, high-traffic location where they will feel safe and secure regardless of when they may choose to exercise.


Keep in mind, a fitness center with all its activity and traffic can be a hotbed for potential accidents and liability nightmares. The importance of planning to reduce the odds of such problems cannot be over-emphasized. Sufficient room between strength stations and cardiovascular equipment will assist in the makings of an efficient traffic flow plan. Delineated areas for stretching and movement-based exercises will go a long way to increasing the safety of the environment and decreasing the potential for accidents or liability exposure.

Revenue Generation

Offering clients an opportunity to generate revenue from a fitness facility is often an untapped area of consideration. Will the fitness center offer personal training services, group exercise classes or a merchandise/retail component? Since most development professionals never get beyond the brick and mortar issues, it’s beneficial to have a functional fitness design consultant on board to make sure that all of these potential revenue sources are addressed in the design and development stage. The facility will need a compartmentalized approach to accommodate things like private personal training rooms, group exercise areas and retail.

This post is an excerpt from an article originally appearing in Lodging Hospitality