At Origin Fitness we've been designing fitness spaces for the past ten years. During this time the gyms we work with and the projects we deliver have changed massively. Every year we make sure we analyse the biggest changes and emerging gym design trends to ensure we keep our customers at the forefront of the fitness industry.

Here are our top 6 gym design trends for 2019.

Group Cardio Studios and Zones

Indoor Cycling classes are great, but what's new? When there is such an exciting range of cardio options on the market, especially with increasing variety in HIIT focused machines, why should operators feel restricted to group cycling?

As such, we've seen some gyms choosing other cardio machines for group excercise studios and offering an alternative to the traditional indoor cycling space. Studios filled with rowing machines, Air Bikes, curved treadmills or a combination of these will bring a new twist to this classic group fitness formula. True to recent trends, this type of studio will rely on great trainers, well-choreographed music and immersive lighting and decor, to create a premium, boutique experience.

Great studios will also link the cardio machines using specialist technology to enrich the user experience with in-depth data, competitions, and other visualisations driven by member input and displayed on screens throughout the studio.

Some are taking it to the next level by encouraging use of heart rate monitors that complete the digital environment, allowing people to keep on top of their effort levels and compete with fellow members. Whole classes can be structured around these heart rate systems (myzone is one of our favourite examples), opening it up to members of all fitness levels as all effort will be relative to their own performance.

Mental Health and Complete Wellness

Heading into 2019, gyms are focussing more than ever on delivering mental as well as physical results. Regular exercise is heralded as an effective solution to the mental rigours of today's society.

The increased awareness and the role facilities can play in helping people's mental health means that we're going to see more gyms setting out on a mission to improve mental as well as physical health.

We have observed an increasing trend where traditional fitness clubs are incorporating more holistic training styles with mindfulness and meditation. While many studio facilities may already have the equipment required to offer these classes, we've seen a shift in décor to create a more welcoming, less intimidating gym environment. Operators are seeking to be more motivating and inviting. Not only will the environment be inclusive but staffing, training and coaching will all have an increased focus on mental well-being.

Mindset, the new boutique training studio in London created by Darren Sealy, is an example of how mental fitness can be used to create group training sessions. In his studio, he designed each class to cover the importance of social, emotional, nutritional, physical and mental fitness.


A New Cardio Equipment Ratio

It's a worrying time to be a recumbent bike on the gym floor. It comes as no surprise that traditional cardio zones are reducing in size to make way for larger free weight and functional spaces. However, the breakdown of equipment left within these zones themselves is also changing. While there are still many benefits in using recumbent cycles, they seem to be losing popularity in the midst of these changes.

We have seen increasing investment in stair climbers in many of our recent projects, offering low impact training that can be modified to create high-intensity workouts. Rowers and curved treadmills are also continuing to grow in popularity, with members of all fitness levels gaining the confidence to use these products once considered to be for the 'elite'.

Stationary upright and recumbent bikes are often being replaced or supplemented on the gym floor by indoor cycles and specialist training bikes (Wattbikes and Airbikes). We also expect the release of the Stages Solo this year to have a further impact on the cardio equipment ratio in our projects.

The recumbent will always offer something great to users, especially those with rehabilitation, mobility or other special requirements. However, with increasingly valuable cardio zone space, each machine needs to fight hard to justify it's place in the line up.

Next Level Analysis and Tracking

Moving into 2019, we're expecting to see continued growth in popularity of performance equipment and analysis focused zones.

Users now have a vast amount of information available to them through apps, wearable and trackers. The vogue for fitness apps and the increase in availability of online personal training services means members are stepping up their game and monitoring their workouts and progress with more precision. What does this mean for facilities? It means that in order to add value to users, they need to find new ways to offer insight and support that customers can't find themselves.

This change has become evident with the popularity of performance training tools like Wattbike that add value to the user when paired with the knowledge and advice of an expert. A big trend for 2019 will be the investment in body composition analysis projects/scanners (InBody) and club-wide HR monitoring systems like MyZone for motivation and progress tracking.

The Rise of Sprint Tracks

In the past calendar year, over 50% of new gym designs we have created to incorporated a sprint track into the layout. Used for prowler and drag sled work as well as having a softer area for bodyweight exercises, accessory work and functional training, these tracks are incredibly versatile. They provide an exciting centrepiece for a facility or alternatively look great along a wall to separate space away from the main gym floor.

They also elevate the look of any gym to a higher standard by bringing a strip of colour and a sense of fun to the space. We are expecting to see more innovative use of sprint tracks in designs in 2019, especially those incorporating custom designs, markings and bespoke brand colours.

It's Not a Class, It's an Experience

We've seen an increase in the creation of concept studios this year; spaces that have been designed to run a series of very specifically programmed classes. High-end operators looking to tap into the boutique market have created premium experiences in studio spaces or underutilised areas to reel in the members, and it's going down a treat.

In the past, studios were primarily a multifunctional space, allowing a wide range of classes (everything from body pump to yoga and Zumba to boxercise) all to be delivered in one space. Operators are now more open to creating immersive environments that aren't as flexible but offer an unparalleled and specific experience.

These spaces often include programmed lighting, music and heart rate solutions along with rigs, floor markings and HIIT cardio machines. Check out our REDLINE offering to get a feel for what's included, and get your own personalised quote.


What Are the Experts Saying?

This year, we've also spoken to some of the UK's leading experts to find out what they think the fitness landscape will look like in 2019. Dave Wright, CEO at myzone is well known for his industry insight and has kindly given us the below predictions for 2019.

"2019, for the UK fitness industry, is going to be the year of the boutique. The growth of the franchised model will explode as operators who have been developing and mastering the systemized deployment of their `unique' group training offering that will sell based on the lower cap ex and higher returns versus the conventional franchise model.

Large operators will continue to fine-tune their own offering as their `boutique buster' within the existing big-box clubs and even leisure centres will begin to capitalise on the wasted space that many of the centres have on offer.

We will also see the equipment suppliers desperately try to deliver their own version of `Peleton'... (a subscription-based workout at home model that within 7 years has come out of the blue and now seek a valuation of over 4 billion dollars- a number that traditional equipment operators would only dream of.)

There will be continued consolidation of the budget operators as their five year `honeymoon' period runs out and the equipment and facilities get tired, the yields are cut short and the return on capital deployed is certainly not as attractive to investors to that of small box boutique offerings.

The Instagrammer will also begin to lose their shine when the public wash over the unauthentic promotion of `goods and products' like they did with advertising in the 80's and there will continue to be a desire and appetite for a fitness centre with experienced and knowledgeable trainers.

And finally, the market appetite for good health and fitness clubs will once again rise due to the consumer acceptance that people are willing to place a higher price on their health and fitness rather than the rack them and stack them mentality of cheap, cheap, cheap that the budget operators have driven the market to believe is necessary.

So all in all... 2019 is going to be a very exciting year ahead! I can't wait!"

Dave Wright - CEO MyZone

We've also had a chat with Marvin Burton, Head of Product at Anytime Fitness to find out what he's going to be focussing on over the coming 12 months.

"In general we are seeing plenty of variations of similar concepts within the industry. Boutique style small group workout areas, HIIT training and wearable technology are still being re-designed and formatted across the industry. These areas will continue to flourish.

These are great areas to exploit and have been proven to increase engagement and retention, therefore adding to lifetime value and improved NPS. As we move into 2019 these figures will still begin to grow. The inclusion of heart rate based training, 3rd party app integration and social engagement is turning the fitness space into not only a health conscious environment but a social hub for communities.

In 2019 we (Anytime Fitness) will continue to bring new and futuristic offerings such as these. We have also recently launched our own remote coaching app which allows our Personal Trainers the ability to create online programs, nutritional videos, schedule programs and track their clients activity levels. Focusing our regular users is important, but there is also a huge opportunity to re-engage members that are in need of motivation, guidance via alternative communication methods that fit their personal lifestyle. We have already started to cater for this market.

With the future in mind we are also starting to look towards emerging markets. The older adult demographic is continuing to grow and we know from national statistics this will continue for the next 5-years. Therefore we have started to move towards this now. In 2019 we will grow our Anytime Prime, older adults membership and refine our product and service offerings to include current, future and technological changes."

Marvin Burton – Head of Product, Anytime Fitness UK