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Gym Ventilation: Poor Indoor Air Quality Drives Away Customers


gym ventilation | poor indoor air quality

Have you ever walked into a health club and almost made an abrupt about-face because of the nasty air? Your gym or health club does not need to smell like your high school gym did after a wrestling match or intense basketball game. With proper air conditioning and gym ventilation you can rid your space of unpleasant odors and provide your clients with the healthy environment they were looking for when they joined your club. Let’s take a look how you can retain your customers and attract new ones by maintaining good air quality.

Healthy air is essential for a health club

Your clients are likely coming to your place because they would like to improve their health or maintain it through routine exercise. As health-conscious individuals, they probably will not overlook poor indoor air quality. As one who owns or manages a health club or gym you want return customers and to grow your business. You certainly do not want to drive customers away because of poor indoor air quality and inadequate gym ventilation.

Poor indoor air quality and subpar gym ventilation does not promote good health

What can happen if your gym ventilation system has not been appropriately designed or is not functioning properly? The probable end result is a hot and humid environment because your system is not removing enough moisture from the air. Taking it a step further, let’s look at what can happen if you do not correct the gym ventilation problem that is causing uncomfortable conditions:

  • Humid air is the breeding ground for mold and mildew growth
  • Viruses and bacteria thrive in humid air
  • Humid air can cause musty smells
  • Higher energy bills
  • System breakdown

Insufficient gym ventilation: Beware of dangerous CO2 levels

As we exercise, our heart rate accelerates, which results in faster breathing. This quickened breathing leads us to exhale a higher rate of carbon dioxide than normal, which can decrease the amount of oxygenated air available to inhale. In your gym, you have a facility full of people exhaling elevated amounts of carbon dioxide, which can cause a significant rise in carbon dioxide in the air.

The insufficient oxygen in the air can have a suffocating effect, make you feel tired more quickly and lead to a disappointing workout. High levels of carbon dioxide are particularly prevalent in smaller enclosed workout rooms such as aerobic studios and spin cycle rooms. A properly designed gym ventilation system is critical because ventilation provides the right balance of gases and ensures that the air you breathe doesn’t contain too much carbon dioxide.

A December 2014 edition of the Building and Environment Journal cites a study completed by the University of Lisbon and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands where indoor air quality was studied at 11 Portugal fitness centers. These centers are similar to fitness facilities found in the U.S. The study revealed that the gyms measured high levels of airborne dust, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC). The concentrations of these substances for the most part exceeded the majority of accepted standards for indoor air quality. (There is no governmental agency in the U.S. that conducts routine air quality inspections in gyms.)

As you can see, humid air laden with CO2 will do nothing to promote the healthy atmosphere you want for your clients. If poor gym ventilation is allowed to continue over an extended period of time, your customers could develop symptoms that associated with poor indoor air quality when they visit your facility including:

  • Eye, nose throat and lung irritations – watery eyes, sneezing and coughing
  • Skin rashes
  • Infections
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

It won’t take too long before your customers tie these health issues to poor indoor air quality. They may opt to cancel their membership and go elsewhere for their physical fitness needs.

Related article: 10 Tips to Improve Air Quality & Make Indoor Air Safer to Breathe

More ways you can combat poor indoor air quality

If you have the luxury of building a fitness center from the ground up, you can start with a well-designed HVAC system to expertly handle gym ventilation needs and use construction materials that are low in VOC’s such as plywood, paint, floor finishes, and carpets. Many fitness centers, however, are retrofitted into an existing facility.

One of the least costly ways to help alleviate poor indoor air quality is to ensure that you buy greener cleaning supplies from companies that certify that their products meet strict chemical emission standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that business maintain Safety Data Sheets that contain a list of potentially harmful substances handled in the workplace and these sheets should include VOC levels.

Another easy way to improve indoor air quality by preventing the spread of bacteria is to provide an abundant supply of hand soap and sanitizers and to instruct employees to immediately wipe down equipment used by members. Make sure to provide members with towels and make sure after use that those wet towels are not stored in a heap and are washed on a timely basis. Be vigilant about keeping clean bathrooms, showers and changing areas.

Good gym ventilation is critical to clean air

If you own an older fitness facility, it may contain an HVAC system that is functioning beyond its useful life and is likely working at an inefficient level. The HVAC system may have even been inadequately designed and also may not meet current energy codes.

A properly designed gym ventilation system is essential to your customer’s comfort because it provides the right balance of gases and ensures the air you breathe doesn’t contain too much carbon dioxide. It controls odors and extracts contaminants from occupied spaces. A properly designed gym ventilation system will promote moisture control.
You may not need an entirely new HVAC system. Possibly, your current system needs some tweaking such as relocating intakes, adding makeup air or moving ductwork.

Don’t lock bad air in your locker room

When considering gym ventilation improvements, take a close look at your locker room. Locker rooms are a haven for moisture. Sweaty members come into the locker room after a workout. Many take showers, which add to the moisture. Under the International Building Code, moist air is not permitted to be recirculated, which means it must be vented outside of the building. If you have a pool or sauna or steam room, even more moisture is produced. It is critical that your gym ventilation provides for an adequate exhaust system to vent the moisture from the building.

Other gym ventilation upgrades could include air supply fans to improve air balance and the installation of blowers. It is also important to install bacteria-absorbing filters. HEPA (High Energy Particulate Air Filters) are designed to trap smaller particles such as bacteria, mold and smaller strains of pollen. Dehumidification systems are often installed in pool or other high humidity areas.

Learn more about filters: Alleviate Spring Allergies: Air Filters & MERV Filter Ratings

Regular HVAC maintenance and service is essential for proper gym ventilation

Installing the right air conditioning system and proper gym ventilation in your fitness center is only half the battle. You must make sure it is regularly inspected and maintained. When you consider that all the air your customers and employees inhale at your health facility is circulated through your HVAC system, it makes sense to complete routine maintenance and system tune-ups to make sure your system is working at optimum levels and providing your customers with consistent comfort and the fresh air they need to promote fitness and good health.

Arista Air can design a new system or upgrades for your existing system, plus provide you with expert preventative maintenance that will enhance the climate at your center and make it an inviting place for your clients.

To learn more about how to protect your sizable HVAC investment, check out our free guide: HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure.

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