Personal appearance and fitness is increasingly important in people's lifestyles today. Regular physical activity is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure, help control weight, help build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, improve physical appearance, and promote psychological well-being.
This has resulted in numerous health clubs being constructed. Some are referred to as wellness or fitness centers. These facilities may be located in existing buildings or new construction.
Fitness club facilities may include:
- Workout room with various cardio-vascular (treadmills, stationary bikes, etc.) and strength training (Nautilus, etc.) machines
- Free-weight room
- Indoor running track
- Gymnasium type area with basketball/volleyball court
- Aerobic floors
- Racquet ball courts
- Massage therapy room
- Indoor swimming pool and whirlpool (Jacuzzi)
- Full-service men and women's locker rooms, with sauna rooms and showers
- Member's lounge
Some smaller clubs ("Fit Stops") may only include workout and weight rooms, and minimal locker rooms. Larger clubs may have larger and more facility rooms (i.e. karate rooms, etc.), indoor and/or outdoor tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool, and a child care nursery.
Most clubs air condition the exercise spaces to encourage patronage. The adjusted heat gain from people (which could be a mix of men and women) varies with the level of activity. This is usually a mix of activities or a combination of workout and rest periods. The sensible load due to people and their oxygen consumption is high due to the physical activity. In addition, the heat gain is almost instantaneous since patrons are likely to be lightly clothed. That is why temperatures are typically kept at the lower end of the comfort zone (65 to 68°F), with humidity at or below 50%, and air motion sufficiently low to prevent those exercising from feeling a draft.
Proper ventilation must be supplied to offset infiltration, maintain a slightly positive pressure in the building, replenish the oxygen supply and dilute odors in the exercise areas. Fitness clubs are often open for long hours (such as 6:00 am to 10:00 pm) and occupancy varies widely, particularly depending on the time of day. Outside air dampers should have controls and be programmed to follow the general occupancy profile to reduce operating energy costs. The suggested rates for fresh air are 20 cfm per person in activity in aerobics_and workout rooms, plus a minimum of 0.70 cfm per sq ft of floor area. Local codes may also govern.
Locker rooms are usually very well ventilated, using 8 cfm per person, and not less than 2 to 3 cfm per sq ft. To reduce the outdoor air required, excess air from the main area may be introduced, however, some reheat or re-cooling may be needed to properly maintain locker room temperatures.
Indoor swimming pools are usually heated and kept in the 82 to 85°F range. Considerations should follow the suggestions detailed in the Indoor Pool segment under Other Building Types. Conventional HVAC practice can be followed in other areas of the health club.
Most health clubs typically are designed with multiple unitary systems using roof-top gas/electric or heat pump heating and cooling units, one per zone. This is particularly necessary where occupancy hours vary. Loads can vary widely and quickly switch from heating to cooling, requiring automatic but simple-to-operate controls. Special purpose spaces, such as swimming pools, may require separate treatment.
Proper ventilation is necessary to control odors and avoid "sick building" syndrome. Provision should be made to shut outdoor air dampers when individual zones are unoccupied. Many areas have stringent codes covering fire, smoke, building design, ventilation, and noise control. In many cases, noise production and protection from vandalism must be considered. As an alternate to roof-top equipment, geothermal heat pumps systems are increasingly popular as they have no outdoor equipment to create noise, be weather deteriorated or be subject to vandalism.
Energy conservation concepts must be simple: cooling interior spaces with outdoor air using economizer cycles, night setback in individual areas, and outdoor air damper control during system shutdown at night and other such times. Water-loop heat pump systems may also conserve energy if the building has significant interior zones. Some of these designs combine thermal storage where excess heat generated during the day is stored and used for heating at night.
Recommendations/Energy Services Opportunities
- Older inefficient systems should be investigated for upgrading or replacement, particularly if CFC refrigerants are used
- Where demand and/or on-peak energy costs are high, investigate thermal storage
- Energy conservation concepts discussed above not in use, or antiquated or inappropriate control systems all represent energy service opportunities
- Special heat pumps designed specifically for indoor pool areas
- Ozone treatment of swimming pool water can minimize the chlorine usage.
- Application of heat pump water heaters may be recommended because of huge demand for cooling load and hot water.
- Electric dessicant heat pump systems for treating ventilation air.
Lighting levels in health clubs are usually high and are usually provided by a combination of fluorescent and metal halide lighting systems. Certain areas such as handball and tennis courts may have incandescent lighting to reduce the potential strobing effect of ballasted lighting.
Sauna and Jacuzzi areas present temperature and moisture issues for the lighting systems. For special handling requirements see Indoor Pools is this section.
Recommendations/Energy Services Opportunities
T-8 Fluorescent lamps with electronic ballast eliminates the strobing effect of the old magnetic ballast and, therefore, should be considered as a replacement for incandescent lighting in handball or tennis court areas. All existing T-12 lamps and magnetic ballast should also be replaced with T-8 lamps and electronic ballast. Incandescent spots and down lights should be replaced with compact fluorescents where permitted by the owner.