How do you keep your yoga members warm and your cardio members from falling over from heat exhaustion? It's all a matter of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
The American College of Sports Medicine offers a guideline about HVAC that Graham-Meus Architects has modified based on their experience and comments from club owners they work with.
Regardless of what you do with the temperature or air circulation in a club, Dan Meus, co-owner, Graham-Meus Architects, says that you must remember that you can't please 100 percent of the people all of the time. If you please 80 percent, you are doing well.
However, Meus offers the following tips to help you meet the HVAC needs of your members as much as you can.
- Know your zones
Temperature and air circulation needs vary by space depending on its use. The indoor pool area should be the warmest since members are wearing swimsuits and are wet. The locker room needs regulation of its temperature with the wet area requiring a lower temperature than the dry area of the locker room.
Because aerobics is more strenuous than yoga, the members in the aerobics room will need a cooler space while those in the yoga room will want a warm, inviting space. The aerobic studio should be at 62 to 68 degrees, the coolest area in the club. Yoga rooms should be set between 75 to 85 degrees, second only to the pool area in warmth.
“You want it to feel comfortable in a yoga studio,” says Meus. “In aerobics, you are working very high. If it's at 72 degrees then you are going to feel really warm.”
For the Pilates room, the temperature should be at about 68 degrees, he advises.
- Install temperature controls for each area of the club
Meus recommends different zones in the club and the ability to set the temperature differently in each zone, particularly if the zones involve mixed use.
“If you use the same room for an aerobics class and you use it for yoga class, you want to make sure to be able to control the temperature,” Meus says.
Temperature control can be difficult in an open design.
“You can't be perfect, but you can locate more supply ducts in an area where you want the coolest areas,” Meus says. “Try to locate as much as possible the supply air where you suspect you'll have the cardio area.”
- Keep it flowing
The air change per hour in most of the club should be eight to 12 times. However, in the indoor pool area, the change should be just two to four times. To keep everything “fresh” in the wet area of the locker room, the air should change 20 to 30 times per hour. The air circulation should be greater in the locker rooms to prevent odors caused by workout clothes, sweat, wet floors and wet towels, Meus says. The general rule is that rooms containing a large number of people, such as the group fitness area, generally need more air movement than rooms containing few people, such as the lobby.
- Ceiling fans, water coolers and cool colors can cool a room
If you can't install more ducts consider installing ceiling fans.
“Having ceiling fans will make people feel more comfortable,” says Meus. “Once you start moving air across people, then they will feel cooler. The more sweat and water you have on you, the cooler you are going to feel with air going across you.”
If a warm room is flanked by large windows, consider putting shades on the windows or awnings on the outside of the windows. You could even plant trees near the windows.
Meus also suggests choosing colors wisely in a warm room that needs to be cool. Instead of going for red, orange or yellow, try a cool tone, such as green or blue.
- Lighting can change a room's temperature
To cool a room, use fluorescent lights that don't emit infrared rays rather than using incandescent lights. Adding incandescent lighting or perimeter radiation around the lower area of the room can warm rooms that are too cool.
- When choosing temperature consider demographics
ACSM and Graham-Meus provide leeway in the temperature ranges, so an owner can take into account his or her membership. An older membership may appreciate rooms that are warmer. If your club is in a warmer environment, where members may dress wearing a little less to work out, you may want to keep your rooms on the higher end of the temperature range. On the other hand, a club owner in Minneapolis in the middle of winter may want to keep his or her rooms a little cooler because members may arrive to work out in sweats.
- Perform regular system maintenance and checkups
Have a professional look over your HVAC system annually. Meus calls maintenance one of the most important things club owners can do because it increases the life and decreases the need for repair. No one wants to have to deal with a sauna atmosphere throughout a gym because the air conditioner broke on a 95-degree day.