Fitness Center Design: How Safety Fits In

gym design

In 2014, almost 25,000 people went to the emergency room after a gym-related injury. Injuries from overexertion or poor technique are common but they are not the only potential dangers fitness centers face.

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reports one out of every five falls results in serious injury — like ones that can occur from tripping over a piece of exercise equipment. The layout design has a role to play in your fitness center safety strategy.


Fitness centers need to ensure they have proper spacing between the various pieces of equipment. There are compliance standards for space between machines and they may vary based on your local or state regulations, so learn the laws in your area.

The American Society for Testing and Materials recommends:

  • 19.7 on each side of a treadmill
  • 39 inches behind a treadmill

It will also vary based on the type of equipment. As a general rule, the more clearance space, the better.


Location is another primary concern when designing the layout of a fitness center. Cardiovascular machines should be placed in areas with high visibility. This way if someone goes down on one, either from injury or medical emergency, you increase the likelihood they will get help fast.

Location is important for electrical powered equipment, as well. If it plugs into a wall, be mindful of cords. Place the machine somewhere that people won’t trip over the cord.

Place monitors and televisions in front of cardio equipment so users don’t strain to see them. Also, keep them far enough away from the machines that if the TV falls, it won’t hurt anyone.

Strength Training

When laying out strength training equipment, make sure users have room to make adjustments and group muscle-specific units together to improve traffic.

For free weights, provide a wall of mirrors. This allows users to check their form and reduce the risk of injury. It also lets them see what is going on around them, so they are less likely to hurt or be hurt by someone else.

Design decisions should incorporate ease of use, community needs and aesthetics. The biggest focus, though, needs to be on keeping anyone who uses your fitness center safe and reducing your liability.

For information on fitness center design and safety concerns in gyms, contact one of our many Fit Supply professionals.