The benefits of biophilic design in health and fitness design

The use of biophilic design in gyms is not a new concept, but rather one that has increased in popularity since the pandemic when people were forced to stay indoors. As humans, we have an innate instinct to connect with nature (known as biophilia), so much so that spending time outdoors has been found to support cognitive function, physical health and psychological wellbeing.

A number of studies have also found that exercising in nature can have health benefits: it has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve mood and self-esteem, and help restore attention. As such, many indoor health and fitness venues have opted to incorporate biophilic design as a way to combine health and nature.

This nature-inspired wellness trend includes introducing natural elements into your venue’s interior design such as natural light, indoor plants and the smells and sounds you’d commonly find outdoors.

Biophilic gym design ideas for enhanced wellbeing

  • Working with natural light

Natural light is a vital resource in our physical and psychological wellbeing. Exposure to it has a number of health benefits including helping our bodies produce Vitamin D and improving our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns, to name a few. Studies have also shown that it can even make us happier.

As such, using natural light can impact your venue by creating a positive mood, enhancing the materials used and creating a sense of energy in the space. Including floor-to-ceiling windows that allow sunlight to brighten up the space is a simple yet effective way to bring nature into your gym and rejuvenate and re-energise gym goers.

And if you’re looking for a more relaxing environment for wind-down activities such as yoga and stretching, combining natural light with muted palettes will help create a calming atmosphere.

  • Plants in gyms: combining health and nature

    One of the best ways to help your members connect with the outdoors is by bringing it inside! Indoor plants have a soothing effect on the mind, can help de-humidify the space and even improve the air quality. Some of the best air-purifying plants that don’t require much maintenance include the snake plant, zz plant and the areca palm.

    Other than providing fresh air and improving the aesthetics of your space, plants can also have stress-busting effects and remove harmful toxins from the air. Jade plants (also known as bonsai plants), for example, can absorb harmful gases like Xylene, Toluene and Formaldehyde.

    As long as you ensure there is enough natural light and you don’t use plants with thorns that could cause injury to gym members, you can’t go wrong here.

  • Rejuvenating mind and body with multisensory experiences

    There is more to nature than what the eye can see: there are also the sounds and smells that come with it, like the sound of falling rain or the smell of a forest. Luckily, technology allows us to mimic these elements as part of a well-thought-through gym design concept.

    By integrating virtual systems to allow for a defined audio set-up, you can easily bring the different sounds of nature into your venue depending on the type of atmosphere you’d like to create. For example, the calming sounds of running water or the upbeat tunes of birds chirping will help create the perfect environment for mat-based activities such as yoga or meditation.

    Similarly, scents play an important part in the physiological effects of mood and stress. According to a recent study, specific scents and fragrances, such as rosemary, lavender and jasmine, affect brain activities and cognitive functions that help the mind unwind.

Using essential oils to re-create scents found in nature, such as those of a wildflower meadow, will help create an environment of relaxation and are a great way to enhance post-workout facilities, such as a spa or a changing room.

zynk Design: Experts in gym and spa design

Whether commercial, hotel or home gym, we’re experts at transforming any space into a natural sanctuary to enhance exercise and relaxation.

With over two decades of experience in the industry, we have a proven track record of creative design solutions that develop brand experiences customers love. We’ve also got crucial relationships with luxury gym and spa equipment suppliers and can facilitate both equipment procurement and specialist finishes as well.

Learn more about how zynk Design can help turn your space into a biophilic oasis and sign up for our newsletter below to stay updated on the latest trends in wellness design.