Over the last 20 plus years, I have seen a significant evolution of weight room design. The upside is, it has been for the better! Today’s facilities have a wide offering of equipment that is not only very space friendly, but will also give athletes ample opportunity to get a great workout in a timely manner.
When I first entered the field of Strength & Conditioning I found many of the facility layouts to look similar. Four bench press machines, four shoulder press machines, four incline press machines, six squat racks. Best of all, two weight trees sitting in the middle of the floor so you had to drag all your weights around the facility depending on what you wanted to do. It is now easy to see the issues with this.
When it’s “bench” day, we still only have four of them and we are trying to get thirty athletes to get work done on them. At the same time, the other eight or more pieces of equipment sit, unused, taking up all that space. Yes those were the “good Ol days”. Well not really! Now, you have a wide choice of equipment that minimize unused space. Therefore, giving you the opportunity to be efficient and effective.
As you begin to look at the process of either a new facility or replacing your current equipment, there are a few questions that are important to begin with. These will assist you in the direction that you may want to go.
What is the purpose or priority of your weight room?
This is the fundamental question that must be answered before you precede in any direction with a new or renovated facility. This meeting needs to take place very early in the process and in the end, do your best to have a consensus. This can be a significant challenge, depending on your circumstance. If you are an athlete only facility, it makes it somewhat easier, but for most of us we are dealing with a variety of users and usage needs. I have found it best to get all the stakeholders in one room and create a list of priorities. Do your best to go in with an open mind. This can create an opportunity to understand different points of view, this may allow a time for ideas to surface that no one had considered. This meeting can make or break your project.
Do you have weight room renovation financial challenge?
This is of equal importance to your priorities question. You may know this on the front end or you may be developing a plan to present to a school board or a public bonding. Here are a few question you may need to look at. Are you competing with other departments for resources? Have all departments prioritized money marked for each area of improvement? We understand budget concerns and process. It’s better to have all budget issues aired out, and planned out.
What are the facility performance needs of your students or athletes?
Once you have your priorities set then you will want to examine the actual equipment needs. Part of this will be asking, what are the specific performance needs of the patrons. Will it need to fit multiple aspects? Such as the needs for the schools Physical Education program as well as the athletic needs? Design and layout of equipment may rely on the level of strength & conditioning coaching offered by your school. The facility must be designed to meet the practical performance needs of your educational requirements, coaches, and student athletes.
Once you have decided on these needs, you are down to the actual equipment you would like. Most of the equipment providers you work with will have a planner or design layout capability so you can give them your choice of equipment and they will be able to give you an architectural layout of your facility prior to you making the order. This is very useful in visually being able to see how your facility will lay out and give you the opportunity to make any changes if needed.
As stated before, there is a variety of equipment that one can consider when building or rejuvenating their weight rooms. Do your homework on what you would like your facility to look like and to function. Talk with several equipment providers. If possible tour other facilities similar to the size and needs of what you have or want. Specifically, ask those in charge of the facility what they liked, what they did not like and what they would do differently if they could. This insight will be valuable when making your final decisions in developing the weight room design.
The 2009 Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year, Jeff is in his 16th year at Winona State University as Strength and Conditioning/ Director of Fitness. He is responsible for 10 Division II teams. Previously he was the head strength and conditioning coach for Olympic sports at Iowa State University, an assistant at the University of Memphis, and an assistant at the US Olympic training center in Colorado. Reinardy was part of two men’s basketball national championships in three appearances, numerous conference championships, and several individual national champions at both the Division I and II levels. He also holds club coach and sports performance certifications through USA Weightlifting, and is the former ADFPA American Squat record holder in the 148 weight class and four Minnesota state ADFPA championships.