Physical Fitness (Exercise Room)  

by WBDG Staff



The Physical Fitness (Exercise Room) space type is a space specifically designated for exercise, fitness training, and physical wellness activities. Also included are toilets, office, and general storage normally found in a Physical Fitness (Exercise Room) space to meet codes and regulations.

Fitness space types do not include: high bay court games (basketball, racquetball), saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, swimming pools, food preparation, and service or sporting goods retail.

Space Attributes

The Physical Fitness (Exercise Room) space types provide a comprehensive, varied program of physical activities to meet the individual training regimens of its occupants. Indoor fitness programs can typically be divided into four categories of exercise: warm-up/cool down, free weight, circuit training, and cardiovascular. Each area that houses a particular exercise category should be designed around the requirements of the necessary equipment, including spatial, utility, and HVAC requirements, as well as circulation and control. Also important to the design of this space type is the durability of finishes, flexibility of space, and acoustical control. Typical features of physical fitness space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.

Functional / Operational

  • Spatial Requirements of Equipment and Exercise Activities: A minimum 12' ceiling height is generally required in this space type to accommodate the clearances needed for daily equipment usage. Special surfaces are also required for many athletic activities such as cushioned training surfaces, mirror walls, or impact-resistant walls. Anticipate circulation, in particular controlled circulation, using a flow diagram at the beginning of the design process.
  • Durability of Structure and Finishes: Increased structural steel is typically provided to reduce vibration transmission. Exercise and weight rooms, including equipment storage rooms, should be designed for a 150 LB/SF live load. Finishes should be durable and easy to maintain in anticipation of maximum use. See also WBDG—Wall Systems.
  • Acoustical Control: Reduce noise impact generated by physical activity, by including sound baffles at all acoustically rated partitions, in particular exercise and weight rooms and tenant demising partitions.
  • Occupancy: Occupancy Group Classification is Business Occupancy B, with sprinklered protected construction and GSA Acoustical Class X space where noisy operations are located.


  • Special HVAC: Employ measures to reduce moisture and odor migration to other spaces—assume this space type requires a 20% increase in cooling capacity above the overall building shell and core. Provide a separate AHU for exercise areas. Fitness centers will typically have negative air pressure relative to other areas of the building.

Example Program

The following building program is representative of the Physical Fitness space type.


Tenant Occupiable Areas
Qty. SF Each Total SF Sum Actual SF Tenant Usable Factor Tenant USF
Front Lobby       80    
    Entry Lobby 1 80 80      
Lockers       1,400    
    Male Lockers (70 lockers) 1 490 490      
    Male Toilets (3 stalls) 1 180 180      
    Male Showers (4 showers) 1 100 100      
    Female Lockers (50 lockers) 1 350 350      
    Female Toilets (3 stalls) 1 180 180      
    Female Showers (4 showers) 1 100 100      
Exercise Facilities       4,320    
    Free Weight Room 1 960 960      
    Exercise Station Room 1 960 960      
    Aerobics Machine Room 1 1,200 1,200      
    Fitness Instruction 1 1,200 1,200      
Support Spaces       320    
    Equipment Repair/Storage 1 200 200      
    Housekeeping 1 120 120      
    Tenant Suite     6,120 6,120 1.16 7,076
Tenant Usable Areas           7,076

Example Plans

The following diagram is representative of typical tenant plans.

Fitness center space type

Example Construction Criteria

For GSA, the unit costs for physical fitness space types are based on the construction quality and design features in the following table . This information is based on GSA's benchmark interpretation and could be different for other owners.

Relevant Codes and Standards

The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of physical fitness spaces types. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible:

Major Resources


Building Types

Health Care Facilities, Office Building, Research Facilities

Design Objectives

Accessible—Beyond Accessibility to Universal Design, Functional / Operational—Account for Functional Needs, Productive—Promote Health and Well-Being, Safe / Secure—Occupant Safety and Health, Sustainable—Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)