Designing a Home Fitness Space

As we navigate a new world where group fitness classes are restricted and many worry about exercising in enclosed gyms with strangers, home fitness has taken on new relevance. Many homeowners would be surprised to learn they actually do have space for a dedicated exercise room on their existing properties.

WhiteSpace Architects recently designed a unique home fitness studio on Oahu with a footprint of just 270 square feet.

Intended primarily for aerial dance – where practitioners hang from apparatus suspended from a ceiling height of at least 17 feet – the studio was compactly designed for efficient usage of space. Still, it can easily accommodate two people practicing simultaneously on suspended silk cloths, from an intricate pulley system or even a trapeze. The mirrored studio is also used by the owner for yoga and ballet barre work.

In a space nestled among the property’s existing shade trees, the studio is not even visible from the home’s master bedroom, though it is adjacent to it and connected by a covered lanai.

The site was selected because of the privacy it affords to the homeowners. Described by the owner as a “sanctuary,” the WhiteSpace design evokes a forest retreat because it feels secluded, though actually located in a dense Oahu neighborhood.

The studio’s entranceway provides the physical and psychological separation to designate it as a separate space dedicated to fitness. Large sliding glass doors link it to the home’s garden, while capturing natural light and allowing airflow. Banks of jalousies were incorporated into the design for cool cross-ventilation, but also offer significant visual interest.

As aerial dance puts unusual demands on a ceiling because of the heavy apparatus, close collaboration with the structural engineering team was critical. The required diagonal steel framing was incorporated by WhiteSpace into the exterior and interior wall design – as if a design element – though actually critical for the studio’s structural integrity.

WhiteSpace designed a raised, “floating” floor with built-in wood-framing elements often utilized for specialized dance; this was designed for added comfort for the feet and joints, but also proves easy to clean and maintain.

WhiteSpace’s thoughtfully considered the studio’s exterior at night when lit from within; when dark outside, it resembles a tall, lantern-like sculpture, which was the firm’s overall design vision.

To help design a successful home fitness space, WhiteSpace asks myriad questions to understand the project, from what activities it will be used for to levels of privacy desired to whether the studio should serve multiple functions.

There is no one-size-fits all design vision for home fitness spaces. While this aerial dance studio was designed as a peaceful getaway, WhiteSpace Architects’ designs are always unique and appropriate to the specific owner’s lifestyle, the use and the site.