South Africa : New Design Concept for Planet Fitness

It is rather unexpected to walk into a gym that evokes the feeling of a spacious New York loft apartment, yet maintains a feeling of intimacy. But that is exactly the sense one gets from the new Planet Fitness interior concept.

The original aesthetic for Planet Fitness was conceptualised by Design Base, the interior design division of MDS Architecture. It uses exposed structural steel and steel staircases, red facebrick, slate tiles and timber for a warm, natural colour palette in the gym and in reference to the loft apartment concept.

The new design concept for Planet Fitness is centred on intimacy and the creation of spaces for the individual within the apartment feel.

The recently opened Bedfordview branch is one of the first new interiors to reflect the design evolution to a contemporary, upmarket and intimate interior. The gym is located in the newly built Bedford Square Shopping Centre, which is zoned for multiple purpose use. In addition to the retail centre, the development includes modern residential apartments above the gym. This made it the perfect location to introduce the new ideas of a modern space, with the comforts of home.

The double volume entrance leads off the shopping centre's restaurant court. A full glass façade provides an abundance of natural light into the gym and allows passers-by to experience the energy of the gym. A running track over the reception counter and a pool to the left of the entrance ensures that there are always scores of people creating movement in the space. The juice bar next to the reception area is the perfect spot for people-watching. The gym enjoys a spectacular view over Bedfordview.

Pockets of intimacy

To achieve the concept of intimacy, spaces have been created in Planet Fitness to suit the various needs of the sporting individual. The Bedfordview Planet Fitness is a Mega Club and as such, it offers a large variety of gym activities.


Feminique is a gym within Planet Fitness reserved for the exclusive use of women. The space has its own private access from the ladies change room. It is a fully equipped gym, fitted out with timber flooring, plush carpeting and wallpaper. The finishes in this space were specifically chosen with women in mind and have created a comfortable, intimate space.

Private Training

Individual training sessions are carried out in this area with personal trainers to avoid patrons having to wait for equipment whilst paying personal trainers by the hour.

Group training

The club boasts a large group training studio with timber sprung floors and mirrors.


The lounge has been positioned in such a way that it forms a node around which the various gym activities take place. From the lounge, clients have access to Feminique, Private Training, the main gym area and the change rooms, making it the ideal pause area.

The lounge was perceived as a tranquil area and the idea of creating a Zen-like space informed the use the timber flooring, granite clad walls and mosaic tiles used on planters with planted bamboo. Hanging fabric pendant light fittings and ottomans soften the space, further creating the sense of being in one's own private space at home. Refreshments and internet facilities are available in this area.

Planet Play and Planet Kids

Planet Fitness includes activity areas for children, ranging in age from toddlers (Planet Kids) to older children (Planet Play). These areas encourage a fitness lifestyle and provide supervised activities for children while their parents work out at the gym. Planet Kids is sponsored by Pampers.


One-on-one Pilates sessions are offered in this area.


The sound-proof spinning area hovers over the gym like a spaceship. It has a black plastic floor and is a space with an abundance of energy through laser lighting, flashing lights and lots of glass. Its high visibility from most areas of the gym ensures that patrons are inspired by the infectious energy of this space. The finishes selected for this area, such as anti-bacterial plasti-floor and glass, ensure that the room is hygienic and easy to clean. The room has also been well ventilated to ensure sufficient air circulation.

Running track

The running track is clad with plastic running surface with separate lanes to accommodate various fitness levels. Patrons can walk or pass, depending on their fitness levels. The running track follows a path that overlooks the main gym below, the cardio deck, the Pilates studio, the reception foyer and the unsurpassed view through the northern façade to the exterior landscape.

Change rooms

The change rooms include a steam room and drench showers and have a light and airy feel, which was achieved through the use of light porcelain tile flooring, mosaic glass tiles, a light colour palette and the use of both light and dark timbers. Soft upholstered ottomans in teal coloured crocodile skin add a burst of colour.

The change rooms are constantly manned by attendants to ensure hygiene and provide additional security. Patrons are able to buy or rent locks and other facilities they may have forgotten to bring along. There are private changing cubicles in the Feminique area.

Branding and signage

The Planet Fitness branding is subtly emulated throughout the space by blue LED lighting on columns shining up into the ceiling and blue glass mosaic tiles, adding glamour to the reception area. The new signage uses slick polished aluminium and glass for a more contemporary feel.

The Planet Fitness has high visibility from the busy intersection in front of the building, which has afforded further opportunities for brand awareness.

The all-important details

To ensure a seamless design, Design Base worked out all the electrical points required throughout the gym at the outset. This has resulted in all the electrical cabling being caste into concrete columns and floors, rendering them invisible in the space.

Planet Fitness has incorporated a number of lifts for paraplegic use as well as to ensure the easy delivery of machines to the various levels of the gym. All areas have been treated for optimal sound levels, with acoustic consultants involved in this aspect of the design.

Planet Fitness also offers a space specifically for private training to avoid patrons having to wait for equipment whilst paying personal trainers by the hour. In addition, one-on-one pilates sessions are offered in a private and comfortable setting.

The design team has struck the right balance between the energy and excitement associated with a gym on the one hand, and the intimacy, comfort and relaxation to allow Planet Fitness patrons to feel at home. The new interior design is set to be rolled out to other branches over the next year.


Developer : Bedford Square Properties (Pty) Ltd : Gareth Poole - 011 486 2424

Tenant Coordinator : Term Project Managemnt : Lawrence Tearle - 011 675 1551

Client : Planet Fitness : Willie Brase - 011 327 1808

Project Manager: SIP Project Managers : Peter Kent/Ricci Davidoff - 011 233 6800

Quantity Surveyor : Darcy Hedding Partnership : Marcelo Mano - 011 463 0276

Structural Engineer : AKI Consulting Engineers : Mark Axelrod - 011 807 5832

Mechanical Engineer : Mekan Consulting Engineers - Jose Antunes - 011 318 0111

Electrical Engineer : Monty Miller Associates : Monty Miller/Shaun Gomes - 011 887 2164

Main Contractor : Murray & Roberts Construction : Patrick Els - 011 615 0483


MDS Architecture is an award-winning practice that has designed buildings that attract the business, the people and the activity that lead to a sustained performance. With a proud reputation spanning more than 50 years, the practice is renowned for its skill in the sectors of hospitality and leisure, retail developments, offices, residential buildings and interiors.

Our interior design division, Design Base, was established in January 2000 and is a winning combination of experience and a young, multi-talented team with fresh ideas. We have the confidence to evolve these ideas into functional, aesthetically pleasing and commercially viable projects. For more information on MDS Architecture, visit

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