A new frontier in gym interior design: the biophilic gym

in Biophilic Design

I'm not very much of a gym girl. Actually, I carefully avoid gyms and I’d rather do some sort of workout at home. Reasons are various: time savings, having shower in the comfort of my home… Plus the fact that I don’t find gyms to be particularly appealing interiors!
So I started wondering: what if the reason why I don’t like going to the gym was the gym?!

I searched for “gym interior design” online trying to find some inspiring examples. And I did find them!
Actually, I also found that the concept of biophilic gym is a thing, and includes all the ingredients I miss in regular gyms:

  • Natural light
  • View of nature
  • Greenery
  • Organic space layout
  • Overall inviting and invigorating atmosphere


Have you read my mini-series on biophilic design?
You'll find a general introduction on biophilic design as well as more details on all the patterns: nature in the space, natural analogues and nature of the space.

I researched more, asked around and realized that I’m not alone in thinking that gym interior designs are often not the most inspiring…but they should!
Going to the gym is taking care of our bodies. It should be a pleasure, an act of love towards ourselves, not just another appointment on the agenda!

So what is a biophilic gym?
A biophilic gym is a gym where everything is designed with well-being in mind. The attention is on the interior design, the overall atmosphere as well as the training equipment.

View of a biophilic gym with plants hanging on the walls, a mural depicting a soothing forest and grass-like carpet.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biofit (opened in a new window/tab) gym in London

The design

Like in every biophilic design, it all starts with abundant natural light. As a complement, wellness artificial lighting (i.e. designed around human circadian cycle) gifts guests with an energizing effect during the day and a relaxing one at night time.

View of a biophilic gym showing wide floor-to-ceiling windows that let in a lot of natural light.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biofit (opened in a new window/tab) gym in London (design by Lily Jencks Studio (opened in a new window/tab))

The quality of the air is another staple of a biophilic gym.
Air-purifying plants are used extensively and natural scents (like pine essential oil) are diffused in the air to enhance the sense of well-being. This so-called forest aromatherapy carries indoors some of the health benefits of walking in nature, bringing the experience of a training session to a whole new level. What’s also important, plants and scents are mostly indigenous. They can therefore connect the indoor space of the gym with its surrounding environment; one of the key objectives of biophilic design.

As a side note, air-purifying plants are mainly low maintenance. They survive all-year-long indoors and require just a weekly watering, which makes a biophilic gym easy to maintain for its owners.

The training equipment

Forget that infinite line of exercise bikes and treadmills! In a biophilic gym, the keyword is low-tech. Made of sustainable natural materials, all equipment is an occasion to introduce a natural texture or pattern.
And some pieces are even hand crafted out of local wood!

Close-up view of a wooden training equipment with plenty of hanging plants on the wall behind.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Lily Jencks Studio (opened in a new window/tab)

The space is made up of different zones, each specific for a type of training. But the separation is only visual like – for instance – a huge vertical garden leaving its place to a line of wall-hanging plants that then turn into a wood climbing wall. The fact that nature is the overall inspiration ties the whole space together creating the feeling of a true wellness oasis.

3D view of the different areas of a biophilic gym, all seamlessly tied together.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biofit (opened in a new window/tab)

Finishing touches

From grass-like carpet to textured wall panelling, the space of a biophilic gym features many tactile stimulations, which is the technical name for that deeply-rooted desire to go and touch something.

Another view of a biophilic gym. The overall feel is to be immersed in nature, and is achieved with real plants and nature-inspired finishes like a mural depicting a forest and a grass-like carpet.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biofit (opened in a new window/tab) gym in London (design by Lily Jencks Studio (opened in a new window/tab))

Last but not least, the choice of acoustic music creates an overall soothing atmosphere. And as design is all about the details, loudspeakers also have natural finishes that make them blend in seamlessly!

Close-up view of some equipment and a wooden loudspeaker.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biofit (opened in a new window/tab) gym in Stockholm

The concept of biophilic gym is relatively new, but I expect it to become increasingly popular given the growing interest we're seeiing these days in the topics of well-being and health in interiors (opened in a new window/tab)!
As an example, Biofit (opened in a new window/tab) is a label that identifies biophilic gyms around the world. Or – as they like to define themselves – they aim at creating training environments where “Vitamin Nature is maximized”… brilliant!

Now if you ask me, this is a gym!
With everything from visuals to music pointing in the same direction, a biophilic gym makes it much easier to slow down. Going to the gym becomes a 360° experience that helps enjoying a training session for what it really is: a way to take care of ourselves!

I must say that if I had one of these gyms around my place I would definitely become a regular visitor! And you? What’s your feeling on gyms? Would you give a biophilic gym a try? Let me know in the comments!

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Don't be shy, let me know what you think!

On Michael Demianiuk said:
I would love it. To work , live , train own , and run. It would be on my dream list
On Silvia - DforDesign said:
Hi Michael, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

It really is such an inspiring gym design! It almost makes me want to exercise! :)


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