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We love the fitness industry: the constant competition, the unending drive to optimize, and – more than anything – helping gym-goers get after their goals. Lately, we have been considering how to craft solutions that work on all of these problems and we hope this article helps.

We know gym owners are always concerned with floorspace: how much they have, how much each piece of equipment takes up, and how best to use it. These are crucial questions in the conundrum of customer satisfaction. Any good solution must take into account aesthetics, functionality, and versatility, and layouts must be thoughtfully designed in order to meet the needs of gym members from all fitness levels.

Compact Gym Layout Principles

A well-thought-out gym layout does more than fit equipment into a given number of square meters: it enhances member experience and thereby increases retention. The key is to organize the space logically.

Accessibility: Place the most popular equipment somewhere that is easily accessible and highly visible. This helps reduce wait times because members don’t have to weave their way past other equipment or around obstacles, and also makes recruiting visitors more quickly by immediately letting them know your facility has what they most likely need.

Intuitive Pathways: Arrange equipment in a way that naturally follows the flow of the typical workout. For many gyms, that means laying a path from the entrance to a warm-up area with equipment for cardio, pre-hab, stretching, and perhaps some light weights; then to a weight section, whether free weights, machines, functional pieces, or a mixture of all different kinds of resistance training equipment; and finally to a cooldown area with things like foam rollers and self-massage equipment. These intuitive pathways help keep members in the zone throughout their workouts so they feel great from start to finish.

Zones: Create and clearly delineate distinct areas for different activities. Group all the same models of cardio equipment in a single line, square, or rectangle; put free weights – dumbbells, barbells, EZ curl bars, etc. – in a single, well-defined area alongside benches and secure seating; keep functional fitness equipment in a separate zone that has more space for more movement; and group weight machines of the same kind in the same zone. Drawing out these zones in your gym layout will not only allow members to quickly and easily find what they are looking for, leading to better, faster workouts, but will make equipment management and maintenance easier, as well.

These principles are critical for setting up a layout that makes members feel like their experience was top-of-mind, but to truly facilitate flow along the intuitive pathway and from one zone to the next, equipment selection is key.

Equipment Super Selection with Members in Mind

Choosing the right equipment is more than an operational decision—it’s a strategic one that can show members and visitors that you have carefully considered their needs. The easiest and arguably best way to do so is with equipment that balances being more compact and being more versatile. This means maximizing both space and functionality, so gym-goers experience a more wide-open workout space while still having everything they need to get the kind of workout they want. This improves a gym’s capacity, retention, and total user satisfaction.

Make Use of the Underutilized: Some gym areas have traditionally been underutilized by virtue of the fact that equipment simply hadn’t been made to fit it. Walk into any fitness facility today and you’re likely to notice that the walls are covered in mirrors alone and lined with storage, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few well-designed wall-mounted pieces of equipment that turn walls into highly usable zones. ZIVA is proud to offer a few such solutions, chief among them the XP Wall System . It’s a compact, wall-mounted series of pieces that can be mixed and matched depending on the style of gym and its intended zone. If you are trying to make the best use of all available space, such a system can be a great option. Make sure to look for one that has the versatility to meet the unique needs of your membership, and it helps if the system includes some unique add-ons to aid in that effort.

Pack More into Less Space: Some pieces of equipment do a very poor job of putting as much usability as they can into their frame. While things like benches and storage don’t necessarily need to be more than they are, opting for the simpler design can sometimes mean that a facility is less well-equipped or more crowded than it could be. When picking pieces, look for those that do double or triple duty. Functional benches, the XP Cable Half Rack, and other pieces do this well. Some other pieces of equipment have the benefit of having a range of optional add-ons that allow for increased function without any additional space needs.

Member Experience and Incorporating Feedback

If you already have an outfitted facility with an active membership, take some time to watch how the majority currently moves through the space that you have. Where does there seem to be an obstruction of the flow of visitors? What pieces of equipment get used the most? Are there any that members are waiting for? What else do you notice? After observing over a week or two, start soliciting feedback from members, both old and new. They will often have suggestions about equipment placement or pieces that they wish you had. After doing all this and performing a truly thorough investigation, you should have some clear ideas for what you should focus on and how things might be moved around to make it more intuitive, but also how to make things feel more spacious with some more compact equipment choices. Taking this sort of member-first design thinking to your layout will help create a more seamless exercise experience, will significantly enhance satisfaction and foster loyalty, and will help build the community that supports your gym.


Embracing compact, versatile gym equipment and a thoughtful, member-first layout isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s about building a foundation for member satisfaction and retention. As equipment designers and gym owners, our goal should be to create spaces that members are excited to return to, spaces that feel like extensions of their own fitness goals. Consider each piece of equipment an investment not only in your business’s physical assets but also in your members’ fitness journeys.

Transform your gym space into a high-efficiency fitness hub where every square foot works harder for your members. For more insights into selecting the right equipment and designing the optimal layout, feel free to visit our website at


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