Indoor Air Quality in Gyms & Wellness Facilities

biofit biophilia nature eco green gym

Biophilic design as a unique selling point

When you walk into a green wellness space, gym, yoga studio or BJJ academy, there is an immediate visual impact from the nature-inspired interiors that stands in marked contrast to most such interiors,. While this can be a unique point of differentiation, the real benefits of such eco-friendly interior design choices go far beyond what the eye can see…

Air Quality & Biophilia

When it comes to indoor air quality, nature-inspired interiors are quite literally a breath of fresh air. Why so? Like so many of today’s man-made environments, traditional gyms are designed with scant concern for the provenance or potential toxicity of the materials used in the fit-out. These chemicals are known as indoor air pollutants (IAPs) and they can have a negative effect on gym-goers’ health.

Indoor air pollutants (IAPs) exceed government limits

In a 2014 study, researchers at the University of Lisbon found that a number of local fitness centres had levels of CO2 and VOC that exceeded limits set by Portuguese legislation.[4] Health risks from IAPs may also be magnified during exercise due to deeper breathing patterns.[5] The cruel irony of course is that health centres and gyms are intended to be bastions of wellbeing.

biofit gym protocols

A biophilic gym heads off many of these issues at the pass thanks to its design protocols and then implements a series of ongoing operational procedures to ensure similar standards of healthy air quality are maintained over the long term. Here is our take on it:

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are linked to cancer and organ damage. They come from building materials, gym equipment, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning agents.[1] Biofit gyms avoid VOCs through the use of non-toxic paint; organic materials such as cork panels and eco flooring made of sustainable cork and eco-rubber’; eco cleaning materials and the use of sustainably minded gym equipment suppliers.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Human breath is the main source of CO2 indoors.  CO2 levels correspond with the rate of outside air supply; the more CO2, the more “stale” the air feels.[2]  In spaces that have a high concentration of sweating human bodies therefore, ventilation and air flow are fundamental. Think of a spinning or hot yoga studio for example. Biofit gyms use NASA approved air-purifying plants as a way to regulate CO2 levels combined with air-purifiers, tackling the problem from two sides and then monitoring the results on a daily basis.

Microscopic & biological air particles

Some tiny particles in the air are linked to cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease.[3] Sources of these particles include traffic fumes, cigarette smoke and dust. Bacteria, mould and pollen meanwhile can trigger asthmatic and allergy attacks.[1] Biofit gyms have strict daily cleaning protocols as well as air-purifying strategies to reduce airborne pollens and dust, outdoor shoes are an under-the-radar source of such particles so our gyms recommend barefoot training whenever possible.

the problem with Fitness facilities

In gyms, martial arts academies and yoga studios, gathering large groups of people in relatively small spaces is par for the course. Unfortunately, this is bad news for indoor air quality. While classes are in session, accumulated dust can be thrown up into the air while heavy breathing inevitably adds extra carbon dioxide to the air. In many instances, ventilation simply cannot keep up.  

Green design: A natural solution

High quality air is an inherent quality of biophilic spaces, which, by definition, are intended to replicate an environment that is as close to the great outdoors as possible, including air purity. On this basis, a well-designed organic gym could house the freshest pocket of air in a city block.

To minimise indoor air pollutants, Biofit’s sustainable gym designs include:

  • Mindful selection of materials

  • Temperature and humidity control to minimise bacterial growth

  • Air purifying plants

  • High ceilings

  • Small to medium-size class sizes

  • Appropriate HVAC system

  • Low-tech or manually powered gym machinery

  • Smoking ban

  • Eco-friendly cleaning agents

  • Easy-to-clean surfaces

  • Non-VOC paint on the walls

To learn more about our eco-friendly, nature-inspired gym design services, please contact us at info @ biofit . io