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Why LEDs are the ideal choice for gym lighting

LED gym lighting design

Gyms have unique lighting needs and require adequate lighting to keep participants focused and safe. Lights that are more difficult to reach, such as those placed in areas with higher ceilings or above a swimming pool, can be difficult to maintain.

Steve Johnson, a marketing manager at Eaton’s Lighting Division, believes LED technology is transforming the way we approach lighting design for gyms and other athletic facilities.

“Gymnasiums and athletic facilities require durable lighting soultions that deliver high lumens with minimal glare and integrated controls,” he said. “These spaces have many different ceiling heights and host a variety of events and activities. They pose a unique set of challenges, but LEDs provide an ideal solution.”

Traditional gymnasiums

Gymnasiums can be used for multiple sports and a variety of other events. That’s what makes LED lighting such a great choice for these spaces.

LED lighting in gyms and other indoor fitness centers can have a dramatic effect on participants’ experiences. Bright, high lumen output with minimal glare also gives users the clarity needed to shoot the ball into the basket or follow the action on the court.

Due to ceiling height, lighting maintenance in a traditional gymnasium can be taxing.

“A typical gymnasium has an average ceiling height of about 25 feet,” Johnson said. “Required light levels for gymnasiums can range from 60FC up to 125FC depending on the classification of the facility.”

That’s why it’s so important to reduce the need for lighting fixture replacement or repair. The lifespan of LEDs generally exceeds 50,000 hours compared to a traditional metal halide lifespan of 18,000 hours.  

LEDs also make it possible to alter the mood of the gym to fit the activity. Features like dimming, sensor controls and color tuning help create the right environment for everything from a teen volleyball match to a seniors’ aerobics class.

Group fitness rooms

Group fitness rooms need to be as flexible and adaptive as the participants using them. A multi-purpose group fitness room can be used for a variety of class types, all with their own lighting needs.

“Fitness rooms are utilized for multiple activities throughout various times of the day, and most lighting fixtures in these spaces stay on for as much as 18 hours per day,” Johnson said. “LEDs provide dimming, controls and occupancy sensors, and they have a longer lamp life.”

In an aerobics boot camp or other high-intensity class, use yellows and oranges to energize a room. Bright lights are also important to help participants see others and avoid injury. Activities with more intensity and movement need brighter light for participant safety.

Conversely, soft light can create a calming mood and a relaxed environment for a yoga or Pilates class. Wall sconces are a great way to create ambient lighting for these classes. With a subtle lighting scheme, participants can concentrate on their breathing and rhythm and focus their mind on the series at hand.

In a stationary cycling class, darker, club-like lighting schemes are becoming more and more popular. Since participants remain on their bikes, dimmer conditions are not as big of a safety concern. Creative lighting design can also turn a stationary bike group class into a more interactive experience. Using lighting controls to connect music, lighting and dimming can have a great effect on a cycling class experience.

Weight rooms

Weight training requires motivation, attention to detail and persistence. A frequent user of a weight room needs a lighting design tailored their intense workouts. If people will be hoisting medicine balls, kettle bells and even sand bags in a space, it’s important to consider ceiling height and light fixtures.

A combination of LED uplights and continuous linear LED lights can create an optimal and safe space for strength training.

Cardio rooms

The cardio room is a space where marathon runners and power walkers alike can power through a cardio workout together. Whether participants use elliptical machines, treadmills or stair climbers, lighting can help create the focus needed to push through a tough cardio circuit.

Recessed LED lighting can provide high uniformity and low glare, perfect for a cardio workout. Cross-trainers, treadmills and other equipment often have sloping control panels. Use uplights to minimize the bright light reflections caused by machines. Suspended indirect/direct lighting systems can also be a great choice for a cardio room. These systems direct a lot of light back onto the ceiling, creating a light and airy feel. Ceiling height should be considered when using a suspended system in order to prevent participants from reaching the lights. By accounting for reflection, glare and brightness, you can create the perfect environment for a cardio workout.

Aquatics areas

Aquatics areas are like no other space in a gym or fitness center. Light levels need to be taken into consideration on the deck but also under the water. Lighting in these spaces must provide:

  • Adequate light levels
  • Uplights
  • Shadow-free illumination
  • Optimal color quality
  • Low maintenance

Light fixtures in and around pools take constant exposure to water and chlorine. LEDs can keep maintenance to a minimum and provide high-efficiency illumination.

The use of cooler light colors starting at 4,000K will emphasize the pool deck and illuminate a healthy, clean environment. Commonly found on pool decks and spas, a tiled surface illuminated by a spotlight can create a dazzling effect and a luxurious environment.

LEDs are a superior choice for gym or fitness center lighting.

“The physical attributes and performance characteristics of LED lighting allow the fixture to be a smaller form factor and provide higher lumens with less high-angle glare,” Johnson said. “LEDs also work extremely well with controls solutions while cutting energy costs by more than 60 percent in most applications.”

From lighting controls that help instructors create the perfect class environment to low-maintenance fixtures that are also energy-efficient, lighting can have a tremendous impact on gyms and other athletic spaces. 

The Lighting reSource