By James Willmott, director and co-founder of Harrison James Contemporary Garden Rooms
The number of health conscious people in the UK is on the up and commercial gyms can be incredibly busy at peak times. With costly memberships and families trying to juggle the demands of modern life, more and more are creating their own workout space at home. As garden rooms can be installed within 15-20 days, don't usually require planning permission and can be built to a bespoke design, they are becoming popular solutions for home gyms and over the past two years, we have noticed a rise in the number being installed.
The key to creating a productive and practical space in your garden is to carefully consider the room's features at the design stage. This includes:
When designing a gym, the first thing to consider is the equipment you are looking to install. Certain items, such as cross trainers and running machines, elevate the user and can be a real issue if you're tall, as your head can touch the ceiling. The permitted development height of a garden room is 2.5m, however, there are no height restrictions or planning permission requirements if you simply build more than 2m from the property's boundary. In most cases, it is beneficial to do so as higher ceilings ensure you don't feel restricted when exercising.
As with many garden rooms, wall space is of a premium. Many customers love to have a lot of glass and it's tempting to install wall-to-wall glass to let in as much natural light as possible but the design and layout of the doors and windows is key to creating a functional workout space and too many windows may limit where you can place equipment. You also need to consider privacy, especially if your garden is overlooked.
Equipment will also determine the type of flooring required. If you will be using free weights, it's important that you select a specific rubber gym matting. Otherwise, a sturdy wood or laminate is great as they are easy to clean - especially important after an intense, sweat-inducing workout!
Choosing your utilities
Although it might not be the most exciting part of the design process, it's really important to consider the final layout as this will determine the placement of sockets and the type of lighting and heating.
Many of the gyms we build have sockets in the floor to avoid untidy cable runs. Also, spotlights are very popular and I would always recommend considering LED lighting. Not only will this prevent your garden room from getting too hot, but it will also give you enormous savings on your energy bills. Plus, dimmers or even multiple circuits are a good option, so that certain parts of the room can be lit while others aren't.
The other utility to consider is an entertainment system. For most, a TV and sound system are a must when working out. When designing your gym garden room, it is worth considering recessed speakers in the ceiling as this allows for more floor and wall space and will offer much better sound quality. A Bluetooth device will enable you to connect your phone or iPod so you're able to play your favourite music through the speakers.
Also, there is the potential to incorporate plumbing if you fancy installing a bathroom or if you're a personal trainer and are looking to use the space for clients, shower facilities could be a selling point.
The external look and feel
A lot of the time, people focus on how they want their garden room to look on the inside and don't consider how it will look from the outside. We encourage homeowners to really think about the external look and how this fits within their garden. The finished room is likely to be visible from the house and the last thing anyone wants to look at is a box that starkly contrasts with the rest of the garden!
Many of our customers love the idea of bi-folding doors, as they can open up directly into the garden and create the elusion of a huge space, which is great in the summer. However, it does limit the amount of wall space for gym equipment.
We also recommend landscaping and using planting to soften any straight lines in the design, this is especially good for blending the building into an established garden.
Ventilation and temperature control
When it comes to heating and cooling a gym garden room, an air conditioning system is a must. Most garden rooms have high quality insulation and coupled with the heat generated by a high intensity workout, the room can get quite hot. Air con will keep it cool and, although it's less of a concern, it can also heat the room in the colder months. For ventilation purposes, ensure you include a couple of opening windows so that you can create airflow.
Create a versatile space
Quality garden rooms are built to last; therefore we always recommend that you consider how they can be used in the long term and how their purpose may change over time as it could be reflected in the design. While your immediate need might be for a workout space, in a few years' time it may be that you use the space as a guest bedroom, extra living room or as a place to indulge a hobby such as painting.
As garden rooms can add an average of £30,000 to property prices, it is also worth remembering that creating a versatile space that will appeal to future owners can help attract buyers when the time comes to sell.
For more information please visit www.contemporarygardenrooms.com