Posted on September 13, 2016 by Jasmine Shaddock

Chapter Spitalfields gym

Chapter Spitalfields Student Gym

Gyms in student accommodation are great for helping students keep fit, healthy and well. They can help work off the stresses and strains of studying and exam pressures. A well designed student gym will have something to suit everyone’s style of workout.

Managing Director of motive8, Nick Sadler, shares thoughts on how to combat common problems with student gym design to create a space that is guaranteed to be used by all.


All gyms, whether student, residential or corporate, need one thing for them to appeal to as many people as possible: space. A room that can be emptied to provide a blank canvas is a great place to start when designing a gym.

Chapter Spitalfields

Chapter Spitalfields Student Gym

A common mistake that arises in student accommodation planning is devoting too little space to the gym. If the gym space itself cannot be expanded, it’s important to secure a multi-functional space close by, preferably opposite the gym. This immediately opens up the possibility to a variety of activities beyond the standard workout.

The word ‘studio’ may seem like just a room for Pilates to some, but providing this multi-use blank canvas for any number of classes and activities is very effective for gaining more members.

“Just calling it ‘a gym’ can sometimes put a lot more people off because the name suggests that that is all it is,” explains Nick.

“There may be as many as 45% of people who would never consider using a gym but would be very interested in any number of different classes …”

Great Suffolk House

Great Suffolk House Student Gym Design

The studio could be used for anything from tap dancing and martial arts, to one-to-one personal training sessions. For classes such as circuits, spinning or yoga, equipment can be stored away afterwards, leaving the space completely clear for the next session.


Many students closely follow the latest fitness trends, so it’s important to keep an eye on what’s new. Making sure your gym caters to the hottest ways of working out is guaranteed to appeal to students wanting to keep fit. Be sure to have a look at some of the crazes that promise to break through this year!

Tufnell Park Student Gym

Tufnell Park Student Gym Design

A single piece of equipment can often provide a wide variety of workouts. For example, weights can cater to lots of different people and their fitness goals – including both cardio and core strength. It is always worth providing a wide variety of weights such as kettlebells, dumbells and medicine balls which can all be neatly stored in racks mounted to a wall to keep the gym space as clear as possible.

Enlist the Student Union’s support

Get the SU involved in the gym from the start. They will appreciate being on board with the project and will have insight into what the students of that particular university or college are looking for and what they already enjoy. Having a strong relationship with the Student Union may also ensure you get that extra room opposite your gym for a studio!

Wedgwood House Student Gym

Wedgwood House Student Gym

Tournaments, competitions and special events are great to host in a student gym space to introduce students to the facilities. Hosting a variety of fitness and team-building activities regularly is another great way of catering to everybody who may not necessarily go there for its treadmills.

Circuit training is a great way of combining exercise and socialising with peers. Each person works out at one station at a time, meaning everyone is busy with one of the exercises. Circuit groups often bond well as they have the same workout in common – a great way to lead to friendship in and out of the gym.

From the usual gym activities to the slightly more ridiculous student union activities: a gym studio is the perfect place for team-bonding missions like back-to-back drawing, lip sync battles and all the other fun problem solving tasks that bring people closer together.

All over the world, universities are investing millions of pounds to build student gyms, realising that there is a strong connection between keeping fit and good grades. Over 1,820 students in West Lafayette, Indiana, who visited their university gym regularly (at least sixteen times a month), earned a grade point average (GPA) of 3.10 or higher.

Closer to home, investing in a varied student gym will help to reduce everyone’s dreaded ‘freshers flab’. Attributed to stress and drinking alcohol, the average first year student – or fresher – gains between 14 and 28lbs in the first year of university.

A college or a university is a lively and hugely diverse place – building a gym to reflect all these interests will ensure your gym is always a busy and happy place.

If you would like to talk to our expert gym designers about student gyms, get in touch for a free consultation.