FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about owning a nature gym

 

What is biophilic design and how is it used in a biofit gym?

Biophilic design reunites indoor and outdoor worlds in urban architecture and interiors.

Typically found in residential, hotel and office buildings, hospitals and retail stores; not previously found in gyms. Think natural plants, textures, colours, visuals, shapes, scents, sounds and materials.

Biophilia also gave us our brand name biofit.

How did your biophilic gym concept come about?

Biofit owner Matt Aspiotis Morley comes from a real estate development and hotel background professionally but fitness had been his passion for more than 25 years before he eventually decided to combine the two interests.

His training had been moving towards outdoor, equipment-free, largely bodyweight sessions while at the same time he identified a gap in the market for a more nature-inspired version of the contemporary fitness facility that combined the latest trends in healthy, wellness-oriented interior design principles with biophilic, natural design components. Mix all that together and out pops biofit!

How much space would I need for a biofit gym or fitness studio?

Firstly, let us be clear in the distinction between a group class-based fitness 'studio', with a limited equipment set-up, as opposed to a 'gym' facility with a full equipment set-up covering cardio, strength, movement and mobility zones.

The former could live within a wider gym or healthcare centre context for example while the latter is better suited to residential, hotel or office buildings where a wider range of needs is to be met.

An independent biofit gym could of course combine elements of both, with a group class area and gym facility in one place.

Additionally, we must think about space allocation for changing areas, bathrooms, reception and optional heat therapy rooms (sauna / steam) and treatment rooms (massage, physiotherapy) in larger sitea. Health & juice bar areas for retail can also be added when suitable.

In terms of total floor space, anything from +/- 50sq. metres for a movement studio (100% training space, no other facilities included) up to 1000sq. metres with both indoor and outdoor space for a full health club offer can work.

Smaller spaces lend themselves to more focused personal and small group training due to the higher yields while larger spaces open up opportunities for zoning the usage of the gym floor via the choices of equipment and materials, offering a wider range of training modalities and keeping more people happy.

A larger outdoor space of say 500 sq. metres would mean we can build obstacles into the terrain while 100 sq. metres is a good indoor studio floor size and 300sq. metres will give you a full-size gym with changing areas and reception as well as one large open-plan or two small training areas.

Are you gym interior designers? 

We specialise in decorating and equipping biophilic health and fitness spaces, bringing in the necessary resources on a case by case basis.

Typically we are given a ‘shell & core’ to work with, meaning no electrical, HVAC or architectural issues for us to deal with, we then inject the biofit concept into your space, adjusting it to the site requirements and local context as well as your own personal vision. This is not a franchise gym scenario!

Once hired on a project, we deliver initial moodboards to establish the creative direction, materials and colour palette as well as a proposed floor plan.

We will specify the type of flooring, lighting, any wallpaper & ceiling decorations, plant selection (including info on health benefits and maintenance) and wellness-technology (e.g. air purifiers).

We specify all the fitness equipment as part of this process as it is a big part of the overall aesthetics; some elements may be commissioned locally with a carpenter (e.g. balance beam) but most will be bought from our network of trusted suppliers who share a similar ethos to our own.

In short, we can offer a complete solution provided there are already enough windows, ventilation, electricity points, an so on.

For the gym's communal areas such as reception, bathrooms and changing rooms, we can offer Creative Direction services working alongside your own chosen architect to ensure harmony between the training area and the rest of the gym.

Or if you prefer us to deliver the whole interiors project ourselves, we would only need a local project manager who brings in contractors to deliver the work on-site based on our designs.

Would you consider an outdoor gym location?

Yes, we design outdoor gym spaces too, see our gym in Montenegro as an example; in fact this type of set-up is a great opportunity to practice what we preach by training outdoors in the open air and incorporating far more endurance work than a machinery-free indoor space could allow for. 

Outdoor spaces mean we cannot control the environment in the same way as we do indoors, so air quality, temperature, ventilation, shading, lighting and so on need to be taken into extra consideration.

How do you select the plants in a biofit nature gym?

We select oxygenating plants for indoor use as well as indigenous plants as a priority, it's all about purifying the air, reducing pollutants in the gym space and creating a sense of place.

Generally these plants will need watering 1-2 times each week (a receptionist or other team member could do that) and we recommend a gardener visits every month or two to check on the health of the plants.

If there is limited natural light or you prefer to avoid such ongoing operational costs, there are various alternatives available such as working with preserved moss that has zero maintenance requirements.

What type of ceiling does an indoor nature gym need? 

We recommend 3 metres minimum, 4 metres is even better! Ideally with exposed structural beams that we can use to hang ropes, bars and plants from. 

How much should I budget for the fit-out of an affiliate gym?

We are happy to offer guidance on budget requirements and the various costs involved in setting up an affiliate gym but… it really depends on the condition of the space we inherit, what type of equipment is needed for your intended clientele, whether there is natural light in the space, and so on.

Are you trying to target premium clients with an organic health & fitness concept or more of a mass market with an eco-gym offer?

Do you need to keep everyone happy (and therefore have to include high-tech cardio equipment from a top brand like Technogym)? Or are you focused on a dedicated group of natural fitness converts? Big difference.

What is biofit’s stance on social and environmental responsibility?

We take a mindful approach to the selection of all our materials, prioritizing the natural and sustainable wherever possible.

We are especially conscious of bringing any products or materials with airborne Volatile Harmful Compounds (VOCs) into the gym space.

We therefore choose to work with suppliers who have responsible business practices. 

The fitness industry in particular has a long way to go in this sense and it can be frustrating at times but we aim to lead by example and promise complete transparency along the way.

What are the benefits of the biofit training style?

It develops new skills and neurological pathways; it prompts higher commitment levels a.k.a 'sticky factor'; it improves joint mobility and it is above all else fun, inclusive, motivating and interactive.

Clients feel more connected to nature, less stressed and of improved mood after training with us (see our research results here for evidence of this).

What size of group class do you recommend?

Generally in terms of teaching skill-based classes like biofit (unlike say, a spinning class), anything over 15 or 16 people is difficult to control and the coach will not be able to give as much personal attention to each student.

Anything is possible of course but if we're talking ideal solutions, we recommend offering some combination of Personal training (one-on-one), Small Group Training (from 2 to 6 pax) and Group Class (1-15 pax). 

Where does the coaches training take place and who delivers it?

The 2 or 3-day training in the biofit method is delivered directly on-site to all of your coaching team.

To economize on travel costs, we usually aim to combine the coaching session with the completion of the fit-out of the gym interiors in order to lend a hand with that process too.

Whenever possible, the training is delivered by the company founder, Matt Morley.

Do you offer any assistance with class programming for affiliate gyms?

Yes, putting together your first weekly schedules is very much something we can help you with, on the basis that it will likely need to be adapted over the first few months after opening anyway. 

We also offer a starter pack of pre-programmed biofit classes to give your new coaching team time to learn the method by following our examples.

For those in need of on-going support, we can provide additional class template packs for a small fee. 

Is biofit a class-based studio concept or can it function as a gym for solo training? 

Personal training and group classes provide an efficient means of communicating a coach’s expertise and a cohesive method with long-term skill-development in mind; this guarantees the highest levels of motivation, engagement and fun factor for clients.

Wherever possible, we therefore advise incorporating at least an element of teaching into a biofit space.

Equally, by adapting the equipment selection to suit the planned operational strategy, the space can also function as more of a traditional gym without group classes that can be appreciated by all ages and abilities. This is especially usedul for hotel, resort or office gyms.

Do you operate any gyms yourselves?

Not at the moment, our business is about providing a complete turnkey solution to a network of business partners who open their own biofit gyms and fitness studios.

We design the interiors, select the equipment and where applicable train the coaches in our class method, then offer ongoing advice / assistance, music playlists, new workouts and so on during the year, if needed.

So it can be an ongoing relationship or you simply hire our gym design services and we leave it at that once the project is delivered.

Do you help with the recruitment of coaches at an affiliate gym?

Yes, up to a point; we provide a 1-page document with specific advice on what to look for in potential coaches in terms of qualifications, training experience and so on.

We are also happy to offer our affiliate partners honest feedback based on our review of a coach's online profile.

The good news is, we have very clear ideas about what to look for, which makes things much easier!

What equipment would I need to buy for my biofit gym?

We work with you to select the right equipment to match the size of the space, the demands of the local target market and your particular vision / preferences.

A smaller space will need to be multi-functional with as much open floor space as possible meaning large wooden strength equipment would be less appropriate, while a larger gym set-up would include both cardiovascular equipment and free weights.

When wooden obstacles, balance beams or pull-up bars are part of the package, we collaborate with a local carpenter using indigenous, sustainable wood chosen for its smooth finish.

As a general rule, wherever possible we source from local or national suppliers in order to reduce costs and environmental impact so if you are in the US we will buy from American suppliers, for example rather than send everything from Thailand!

Would you be open to including weights and cardio machinery in your equipment selection?

Absolutely, this is what we think of as a ‘gym’ rather than a fitness studio.

Do you use any other gym technology?

We like the no-tech approach of course but we are not technophobes!

We appreciate a serious sound system and streaming our own biofit music playlists from Spotify in the gym for the full sonic branding experience.

Equally, there are a number of excellent wellness-tech products on the market such as air iodizers, humidifiers and aromatherapy vaporizers that can all make positive, unobtrusive additions to a biofit gym.

How do you charge for your gym design services?

We charge a fixed fee for our time working on the interior design of the gym, as well as sourcing, selecting and in some instances designing the most suitable equipment for the gym once we have understood the local target market, the owner’s vision / background and the size of the space available.

The third (optional) deliverable is an on-site coaches training session where we introduce the biofit training method in detail and hand over the training manual.

There is an annual affiliate fee that secures access to use of the biofit name, our scientific research, music playlists, training methodology, class formats and regular updates to the training manual, plus monthly training tips and business advice.

What are the advantages of the biofit affiliate annual gym license?

The fee secures access to use of biofit in your new business's name, our scientific research, Spotify music playlists, the full training methodology and class formats, discounts on branded biofit apparel / equipment as well as ongoing updates to the training manual, monthly training tips and business advice.

What type of clientele does biofit appeal to most?

One of our strongest selling points is the wide appeal of the concept, far wider than a classic gym environment with its rows of machinery, poorly chosen music and uninspiring atmosphere.

Everybody connects with nature on some level, our equipment is easy to use and our training method is fully scaleable, from absolute beginner all the way up to advanced.

This opens the door to attracting those who prefer training outdoors rather than in an underground box for example, or those who simply dislike the atmosphere of most standard gym experiences.

Equally, biofit appeals directly to anyone who participates in outdoor activities by offering them an alternative gym concept that talks their language.

How long will it take to set up and launch a biofit gym from start to finish?

If you have your investment lined up already, a space that is in good condition that does not require any structural changes and you are prepared to start work, we could have a gym in place within 2-3 months but it can take between 3-6 months depending on the circumstances.

What are the benefits of training in a biofit environment?

From a user perspective, our gyms are spaces designed to improve mood and reduce stress levels.

They are purified, natural and non-toxic environments, meaning we think about the materials we use as well as the cleaning protocols, air filtration and humidity levels, aromatherapy, acoustic music playlists, and so on.

Everything is carefully curated at brand level and then implemented at local level to deliver a uniquely multi-sensory experience with tangible health benefits.

In addition, our unique training style is designed to be fun, playful and non-judgmental while delivering real world gains right from day one.

Biofit class concepts offer a complete, 360-degree system that covers Movement and Mobility, Strength and Stamina.

Each class type has a different intensity, meaning there is a class for low energy days as well as when the body wants to go hard or fast, the idea behind that being that we encourage the habit of regular, daily movement throughout the week.