How to Set up a School Gym Step by Step: the Definite Guide


With the growing degree of competition among higher education institutes, colleges and universities strive to include maximum facilities for students. As youngsters across the country are becoming more conscious about staying fit, a state-of-the-art student gym is essential to stay ahead in today’s education marketplace.

The campus gym is almost as necessary as science labs and libraries nowadays. Such facilities enrich the campus life experience while adding to the image of an institute. A university fitness center or highschool gym gives the impression of a wholesome environment where student health and wellness are a major priority.

If you need to renovate, update, or build your school gym from scratch, we have some valuable insights in this article to help you in the process.

Table of Contents

1. Why should you set a gym at your school?

Staff and student fitness is a growing concern for many school authorities. Health clubs and gyms are therefore becoming increasingly common. These facilities play an important role in building school spirit, intensifying energy levels, and creating awareness and motivation for a healthy lifestyle. 

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Having an on-site gym has the following benefits for any educational facility:

  • Improve student and staff health and hence limit sick leaves.
  • Enable your students to adapt to a fitness routine.
  • Enhance your pupils’ concentration and learning abilities by physically and mentally refreshing them.
  • Help reduce the chances of mental health disorders.
  • Provide alternate opportunities for physical activity to students who don’t actively participate in sports.
  • Provide a wholesome environment for socializing and building school spirit.
  • Help enhance life skills like self Help improve life skills such as goal-setting and self-discipline.
  • Raise revenue for your institute.
  • Improve the athletic performance of your sports teams.
  • Lower the risk of chronic health problems.

2. What are students looking for in school gym equipment?

Before you start installing or refurbishing your university gym, the very first thing to figure out is the kind of gym equipment most students prefer.

2.1 Keeping Up to Date

Modern fitness trends and innovative equipment have drastically changed the outlook of fitness centers worldwide. You will be expected to meet the latest requirements for a workout space that tempts today’s youth to give it a try. Therefore, you’ll need to figure out the most in-demand equipment and features to include in your college gym.

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As far as athletic students are concerned, it’s necessary to provide them with the latest machines and accessories for building their competitive skills. Certain world-class universities reputed for their sports courses include equipment like anti-gravity treadmills for hardcore training of their sports teams.

Just try your best to create a space that lives up to your students’ expectations while allowing maximal use.

2.2 Durability

A student gym will likely be open for extended hours throughout the day. Often active college-goers make use of the breaks between classes to train at an on-campus fitness facility. Since you must expect a constant influx of users in the center, you’ll have to keep the durability of your gym machines and accessories as a top priority.

This is where professional gym designers come in. These companies help you make sure that the machines you select are durable, functional and easy to use. They can also help plan the placement of the equipment, utilizing the space available to its full potential.

Besides accommodating multiple users all day long, another reason to choose durable equipment is that youngsters today may be impatient or too rough with your equipment. Even with heavy-duty machines, you should always arrange regular service visits to maintain their good condition.

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2.3 Fit for the Broadest Range of Users

University gyms often cater to several different types of users. Your average user could be a stressed-out student visiting the facility occasionally to blow off steam, a local youngster who isn’t a student but prefers your facility for training, or an athlete preparing for national-level competitions. This is why you should plan your school gym in a way that it can adapt to all kinds of people.

2.4 Do Your Research

It’s best to start by surveying the needs of your targeted users. One way to do this is to involve the student union in the designing process. They will give you a fair idea of what students today expect from a gym facility, the latest fitness trends, and your sports teams’ training requirements.

You could also end up creating a multipurpose space that accommodates small-scale school events as well. For instance, you could host indoor inter-school gaming tournaments in your gym or set up a league table for those training for a marathon.

This could be a crucial step in ensuring that you create a facility that is availed to the max. It’s now time to map out your space and figure out the variety of gym equipment to include.

3. Available Gym Size and Space

3.1 Available Gym Size

Whatever the size of your gym space, you can always design it in a space-efficient manner. For rectangular spaces, consider laying out an astroturf sprint track that goes along the length of your studio. You could also install a wall-mounted suspension training system to offer several forms of functional training.

If your designated area is quite large, it’s best to go for a design that mimics a commercial fitness facility. The key here is to create easily recognizable zones for various kinds of training.

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3.2 Visualizing Your Space Afresh

An empty room is a great way to visualize the layout of your own gym. If you’re starting to build your high school gym from scratch, asking your gym designer to plan a space that fits your requirements is simple enough. The challenge is when you need to re-imagine an already created space with the equipment currently installed. For such a situation, an experienced gym designer can help renovate the entire area.

Professional gym design teams are used to creating space-efficient solutions that maximize any available space. Not only that, but they can also ensure optimal lighting, airflow, and, most importantly, safety in your finished facility. Strategic placement of mirrors is also something at which these designers excel. Mirrors can make light bounce around the room while providing convenience to students in maintaining proper exercise form.

The layout of the changing rooms is perhaps more crucial than the gym itself, being your visitors’ starting point before each workout. It can be motivating or off-putting, so you need to be careful when planning this area.

Keeping aside some free space for classes can also be of great value. Classes have always been popular in studio-style areas. All you need is adequate floor space and preferably mirrors. If you’re very short of room, you can try relocating some equipment in the breakout area for specific periods. For example, moving aside the billiards table once a week for an hour could help you schedule a pilates class there!

3.3 Saving Your Space

To create a space-efficient high school gymnasium, small tweaks in the layout can go a long way.

Clear out as much floor space as you can, regardless of whether the area is spacious or small. Mounting more stuff on walls instead of using cupboards that create clutter is a great way to make more floor available while keeping equipment accessible.

Plenty of wall storage systems are now available to keep your things compact. You can commonly find wall-mounted racks and hooks for accessories such as dumbbells, mats, kettlebells, and med balls, etc. Ropes and boxing bags attached to the ceiling are also great for storing fitness equipment along with providing exercise opportunities.

Another smart tip is installing the gym door so that it opens outwards instead of into the gym. This way, some extra feet of space can be utilized or kept free.

4. Floor Planning with Gym Equipment

4.1 Assess Any Equipment You Currently Have

If you have some equipment already, it’s better to examine it first critically. Gym machines bought during the past three years will generally work for a few more years if you’ve maintained them well with regular service visits.

Of course, you’ll have to confirm from your service provider if the equipment is still safe to use.

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4.2 Floor Planning

While having a fitness center on-site is always a perk to campus life, not all schools have luxurious, large areas available for this purpose. In such cases, careful floor planning can go a long way in creating an impressive space.

Read on to discover some helpful floor planning tips.

4.3 Mix It Up

Any school gym will firstly need a floor plan that is made according to the available space. Generally, strength training equipment and aerobic equipment are best included in a balanced proportion.

Student gyms are supposed to accommodate users with varying goals and body types. This is why we recommend having variety in your equipment.

Your center should have a good collection of cardio and resistance training accessories along with yoga mats and weightlifting machines. This will help your facility be useful for most of the student population and staff members. It may also prevent the queuing of people to use a specific kind of machine.

4.4 One Machine Fits All

Selecting your equipment carefully can help you save both money and space. There are a lot of multipurpose gym machines available nowadays that offer several exercises in a single unit. For instance, you could install a machine that offers both lap pull-downs and low rows, a TRX system, or simply bars on a wall.

Such multipurpose gym machines, along with being space-efficient and cost-effective, can help you create a versatile workout space.

4.5 Flexibility

You should set up a fitness center that is flexible enough to accommodate most workout types. For instance, some free space is necessary for floor work, such as bodyweight ab exercises and stretches. Hard surfaces will better accommodate weighted balls, whereas wall pads and rubberized athletic flooring have their own advantages. You’ll also have to include areas for alternative workouts, such as TRX. Basically, your space should be adaptable enough, considering the ever-changing fitness trends.

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It’s always best to keep the machines away from free weights. Keeping both close may intimidate machine users. Keeping them away from each other in different areas can also ward off sights, smells, and noise.

Another thing to remember is the placement of mirrors in free weight areas. Plan the positioning of free weights so that they can be hung.

5. Best School Gym Equipment Brands

Once you’ve figured out the type of equipment you’ll include in your school gym, you’ll need to decide which brand to go with.

As of now, leading companies around the globe are choosing any of the following brands for fitness equipment: Technogym (an Italian brand), Life Fitness (American) and Johnson Matrix (American). We’ve described each of these below to help you choose.


5.1 Technogym | Representative of Classic European products

Technogym is a world-renown state-of-the-art aerobic and strength equipment manufacturer with bizarre development speed. This influential brand has premium-quality products using innovative technology. Styled in Italian fashion with a soft appearance and matching colors, Technogym products look trendy and aesthetic.

Since the launch of aerobic equipment having built-in LCD TV and touchscreens in 2003, the brand has attracted more customers than before, enabling it to give top American brands some serious competition. Technogym’s major success is being appointed back to back four times as the Olympic Games equipment supplier. However, its major drawback is its price, which is quite high compared to American brands.

5.2 Life Fitness | Classic American Fitness Equipment Brand

Life Fitness has earned a reputation for top-quality fitness equipment, especially its innovative treadmill design. The modern design ideas and innovative anti-shock feature have raised the bar for professional treadmills. Its series of treadmills, including TR9000, TR9100, TR9500, and TR9700, have taken the fitness industry by storm. However, models like the 90T, 91T, 95Ti, and 97Ti are suspected of being imitations of other brands.

As of now, Life Fitness is a powerful brand with a vast clientele, including large corporations. Its effective marketing strategies for several years and reliable quality products have helped it maintain its large market share. Still, it may not be the brand for those wanting modern equipment and innovative designs. High after-sales service expenses are another drawback of Life Fitness.

5.3 Matrix | the Fastest Growing Commercial Fitness Equipment Brand in Asia.

Matrix comes under the umbrella of Johnson Health Technology. Being in the industry since 1975, Matrix has gained a global reputation as a leading fitness equipment brand in a relatively short time. Its corporate culture promotes innovative concepts, welcomes new ideas, and supports creative problem-solving.

Matrix’s fast-paced progress is no coincidence. It has set high standards for other brands in just a decade and has become a mover and shaker in the fitness equipment industry with its creative yet practical solutions.

5.4 Yanre Fitness | Self-design Gym Equipment Manufacturer

A growing number of Chinese brands have also emerged in recent years.

Yanre Fitness is one such brand that works closely with the Chinese Olympic Canoeing Team, along with the largest fitness PT training base in China, Siapu. With premium-quality products comparable to top global brands, Yanre has several top organizations in China and across the world among its clientele.

6. How to choose a trusted school gym equipment supplier?

6.1 Warranty

While gym equipment suppliers might claim that the warranty they offer covers all kinds of equipment services, you should know that wear and tear is not part of it! In actuality, negligence of your equipment makes your warranty invalid.

Maintenance contracts can solve this issue since they will ensure the replacement of parts where needed, and proper servicing in case of wear, enabling you to avail your warranty to the max.

Some equipment problems may have simple solutions you can implement yourself. For such situations, a phone support option can be useful if present in your contract.

6.2 Maintenance

You’ll be surprised to know that according to many gym managers, the after-sales service of a product is more significant than its brand. This also goes for school gym equipment.

Failure and breakdown during use are common with any kind of equipment. This has made it challenging to reduce the likelihood of failure and minimize troubleshooting after any malfunctioning occurs.

It all depends on your choice of equipment supplier, which will ultimately determine the extent of effort you will need to keep your student gym running smoothly.

Some suppliers or agents aren’t looking at the bigger picture at all, only caring about their immediate interests.

We recommend avoiding such sellers who cannot guarantee professional after-sales services unless your company can bear plenty of complaints or even injured students.

Here are a few matters worth considering when looking for a reliable gym equipment supplier:

  • Is your supplier a general agent, or does a brand authorize them?
  • Does your supplier have several years’ experience in this industry?
  • Does your supplier stock enough spare parts?

Despite the above tips, we understand how tricky it can be when choosing a supplier for the first time. We recommend having a list of credible brands to choose from, to stay on the safe side.

From our own experience over the past decade working with leading commercial fitness equipment manufacturers in China, here is our list of the top 10: Top 10 Gym Equipment Manufacturers in China

7. Bonus Tips

Consider the following tips as a bonus to help you out in creating a state-of-the-art college gym your students will appreciate. Visualize your gym while considering all factors that your project currently depends on. While these are unique for each facility, you can ask yourself the following questions:

7.1 Equipment

  • What kinds of equipment are already available in the school/university?
  • Is the condition of the equipment suitable for use, or will it soon need replacement?
  • What kinds of training programs would you like your gym to offer?
  • What is your target age group, and will it affect the equipment selection process?
  • Apart from the necessary iPod and iPhone ports, will you install machines having their own built-in TVs for entertainment, or will you have an overhead TV for general viewing?

7.2 Location and Space

  • Does the fitness center allow easy access to visitors?
  • How much space is available for your student gym?
  • How many users do you expect to have at one time, and how frequently will the space be used?

7.3 Financial

  • What is the budget for the entire project?
  • What are the time restrictions on this project? (Public holidays, fiscal year end, etc.) 

7.4 Lighting and Temperature

  • With direct outdoor views, how will you control the effect of sunlight that enters through the windows?
  • How will you manage humidity in the space, especially in winter, when outdoor temperatures are a lot cooler than the indoors?

7.5 Safety

  • Will you install security cameras in areas that aren’t directly in view?
  • How will you enable your fitness instructors to have a visual connection to all parts of the facility in case of accidents or injuries?

7.6 Other Facility

  • What kind of ambiance are you going for? Will you have a speaker system for popular music, or would you rather not since you predict most visitors will bring their own gadgets?
  • Lockers are a necessity in any gym, especially in winters. How will you provide your visitors with easily accessible lockers, and will you give them the option for locks?
  • Will you install water fountains, particularly for reusable water bottles that most gym-goers seem to prefer?

The questions above may seem challenging to address at first, and you might get intimidated by the whole process.

However, figuring out the answers to all of the above before beginning your school gym layout will make the rest of the work a lot more straightforward.

It will help you approach your planning and installation phases in a more practical manner without any unrealistic expectations.

Ultimately, an easily accessible, non-intimidating student gym will create a space that is availed and appreciated by all.

8. Conclusion

Carefully selecting a reliable school gym equipment supplier is a crucial factor that will determine your project’s success. You need to create a space that is safe, functional, durable, and versatile. This article has addressed all the factors you should be concerned about to make that happen.

We hope you have found the answer to any questions you had about school gyms and their installation. If you have any more queries, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll surely get back to you.

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