The building or renovating of fitness spaces is a team sport. Construction, equipment, flooring, activity flow, access, technology, programming and numerous other roles are involved, each connected to those around it. There are countless details, many of them hidden, which need to be taken into account to maximize this vital asset and keep the community it serves involved and happy. Managing all of the pieces takes detailed planning, comprehensive expertise and creative adaptability. It’s a much more successful outcome when the right team is involved in the process.

Fitness Center planning
San Diego State University Fowler Athletic Center (Credit Image: © Ruaridh Stewart)

It’s surprising what can emerge during the collaborative process of putting a fitness center together. New ideas come up, new directions taken, and often times you end up with a different (and better) outcome than you expected. At San Diego State University’s Fowler Athletic Center, that’s exactly what happened. “We were originally planning on expanding our strength facility, but instead we completely gutted the old room and renovated it from the floor up,” admitted Adam Hall, assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning. “The part that excites me the most about it is the functionality in the design of the room.” Working with the 11,500 square foot facility, the choices can become overwhelming if you don’t have professionals helping you decide what works best for your space.

A well-thought-out plan, designed by professionals, is a must when movement is involved – as every fitness space is a hub of activity, equipment, technology and interaction. Advanced Exercise’s Rick Barbee was instrumental in helping the SDSU team understand how all of the pieces need to fit together. “Working with Rick we were able to design the room in a way that multiple teams could use the facility at the same time and have plenty of space,” continued Hall, emphasizing the importance of communication and tight coordination both before and during construction. “Hundreds of emails were exchanged. Constant phone calls were made and there was always someone on the other end to answer any new questions that I may have had.” The professional fitness design and equipment teams at Advanced Exercise get involved as early in the planning process as possible, so that goals and expectations, user needs and wants, location, demographics, limitations and challenges, future growth, and especially budget are taken into careful consideration throughout the process.

Working with professional fitness center designers is also a learning experience for facility managers who oversee far more than just the fitness facility. The expertise in fitness is specific, combining knowledge of the equipment available, power and technology options, noise and weight tolerance, activity flow and a host of other factors, all of which make up the layout.

“They were honest from day one, and that really helped me out,” said Kirk Fallon, Director of Student Recreation for Red Rocks Community College (RRCC). “This is my first time designing a floor layout and I may pretend like I know everything but having those two or three extra voices to help make sense of what I wanted really made the process so much smoother.”

Fitness Center planning
Red Rocks Community College

From selecting the right performance flooring, to customizing the equipment, integrating fitness technology options and utilizing dynamic wall graphics, Advanced Exercise design consultants know what works and how to design your space to encourage its use and enhance its value. Fallon described how Advanced Exercise experts “worked with our facility, finding out what we wanted, where we didn’t want them to go, conceptually, and where we did want to go, making sure that everything was in the right place. My partnership with Advanced Exercise was professional. They were understanding and insightful. They were able to take me, a first-year director and help guide me to understand what made sense for our facility, for our students, and for the entire Red Rocks community. They taught me what makes a great fitness facility, and that’s what made the difference.”

There are also practical advantages to working with fitness design experts that can save both time and money. In the planning stages, clients can literally see what they’re getting, which involves precise and detailed renderings. Advanced Exercise creates 2D and 3D models to show how users will move through the space easily, and how equipment, flooring, electrical, walls, and other elements all fit within the space available. Having an Advanced Exercise design consultant help with the “look and feel” of the fitness space and how it integrates with the rest of the building makes a world of difference – tying the whole process together through multiple revisions, schedule updates, and meetings with architects and contractors to get every detail just right.

Fitness center planning
Professional planning is key to a smooth installation process.

Beyond the planning stages, having facilities and distribution options to install equipment, having professional installation and service teams, and following through after the fact are all important to client satisfaction. At SDSU, distribution and installation timing was critical. “With Advanced Exercise we were able to treat it as a one-stop shop because of their storage facility on the west coast. When it was time to move on the project, everything came together perfectly.” RRCC echoed the praise for having a team that works alongside you to create a distinct fitness experience. “They are invested in your success,” adds Fallon.

From early-stage planning to the public grand opening — building, upgrading and expanding fitness spaces can take months of dedicated effort. Throughout the process, and beyond it, Advanced Exercise is dedicated to helping create and sustain an engaging floor-to-ceiling asset and a distinctive experience that your community can be proud of.

fitness center planning
Successful results come from detailed planning processes.

About Advanced Exercise
Founded in 1986, Advanced Exercise is a leading fitness equipment and facility design resource, representing more than 30 equipment brands to bring clients the best new or used equipment solutions to maximize the use of available space and meet the needs of a diverse community of fitness amenity end users. For more information on fitness equipment and facility design services, visit or call 800-520-1112 to connect with one of Advanced Exercise’s experts.