Exclusive purpose-built women-only gym set to open this summer

Total Fitness is to create a purpose-built 4,500 sq ft gym exclusively for women in its Wilmslow home later this summer.

It follows the launch of The Women’s Gym concept at its Whitefield site earlier this year when it opened an area dedicated to women.

The concept aims to empower women on their health and fitness journey with dedicated workout spaces, thoughtful gym floor layouts, stretching areas, and considered design features, to encourage learning, build confidence, and help progression.

Conscious that it wanted to start the development process with no preconceptions about women’s needs, Total Fitness used a study of 3800 women to validate and test the club’s design principles that were derived from 150 in-depth interviews with women about their attitudes towards fitness and what health clubs currently offer.

This research illuminated some important needs that were taken into consideration when designing the gym.

The fitness space must include everything required for a seamless workout, cater for changing needs, avoid feelings of intimidation in mixed-gender fitness environments, and be a space to learn, progress and build confidence at a personal pace.

These needs influenced Total Fitness to develop a gym that takes women’s fitness seriously, celebrates the diversity of women’s needs, helps women feel at ease working out, and empowers women’s fitness.

Practical outcomes of this include being able to choose to workout with a mirror or not, access to a broad range of equipment for differing abilities, and an interior that prioritises comfort, natural light, and privacy.

Kerry Curtis, brand development director at Total Fitness, said: “We’ve witnessed an increase in demand for women’s-only gyms across our member base in recent years. Alongside the women’s-only spaces we already have in our 15 clubs, this purpose-built gym aims to serve even more women and their unique fitness needs.

“Research has found that in the UK one in three women are not currently exercising due to low confidence and as many as two in five women are avoiding gyms due to concerns about intimidation or harassment. We must acknowledge these challenges and support more women to get the health and fitness they deserve.”

Total Fitness has also enhanced its staff training so women members feel better supported.

Now, the fitness teams are better placed to advise and guide women through key life stages including menstrual cycles, childbirth, menopause, and perimenopause and how they can impact a woman’s fitness and exercise needs. It has also expanded its range of educational content and digital workouts, allowing members to access information and workouts at home or on the move.

Sophie Lawler, CEO at Total Fitness, said: “For most of my career and fitness journey I have led with the thinking that we should focus on unisex approaches.

“That was to assume that sameness would empower. But, as I’ve learned in the later years of my career, leaning out of sameness and into the uniqueness of being a woman day to day, has been the key to feeling comfortable and increasing performance.

“Taking this into fitness spaces and listening to the needs of thousands of women has led me to understand that we should champion women’s gym spaces to honour fundamental differences, too.

“I understand and appreciate that not 100% of women will want a dedicated space, and not everyone will empathise with that need. But for those that do, we are proud to be offering a space designed to build confidence and provide comfort while working out.

“This approach has been lacking across the sector, and we have been letting women down. But we’re committed to solving this as best we can and for as long as our customers tell us to.”

The launch of The Women’s Gym concept follows an increased demand for a dedicated women’s only space amongst Total Fitness members. It saw an impressive 82% rise in online searches for ‘women-only gyms’ in the past year.

Total Fitness already offers separate spaces for women in all its 15 health clubs, and 36% of current female members use these spaces. These spaces will remain available as part of its normal membership.