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Legislation on air conditioning in sports facilities

Using the facilities at a gym or leisure centre will inevitably lead to sweat, whether through a workout or after a trip to the sauna. In order to avoid overheating, a well-maintained air conditioning unit can help during a rigorous exercise regime in order to improve performance.

But what is the optimum temperature for your leisure facility? What legislation is in place to keep clients’ workouts at the optimal temperature? We explore the matter, as well as looking into the risks poor temperature control can pose to gym-goers.

Duty of care

In regards to the Health and Safety Executive, there are currently no established regulations that target gym or leisure centre temperatures specifically, although the generic health and safety legislation covers the vast majority of other safety requirements at the gym.

So despite there being no fixed regulations which apply specifically to indoor leisure spaces, we can base an estimate upon the minimum workplace temperature requirements as an estimate to establish how we can achieve the optimum temperature for these environments.

The Approved Code of Practice recommends 16°C as the base level for a workplace, with work requiring “rigorous physical effort” at 13°C. Again, this isn’t a legal requirement, but it gives an idea of what an optimum temperature is for comfortably engaging in physical activity.

Take a look at these guidelines on optimum temperatures provided by Sport England, tailored to fitness and exercise spaces:

•    Fitness Gym – 16°C to 18°C (60°F to 64°F) in the summer, with “comfort cooling” as needed. 

•    Studios – 18°C (64°F), with a slight summer rise acceptable.

Risks of high temperatures in the gym

When your gym is too hot, you are likely to have worked up a sweat before you even get going on your session. Plus, it’s a risky activity; dehydration and heat stroke are notable risks of working out in an overheated gym. But even just sweating too much can be a problem. We Be Fit notes that while over-sweating can cause gym-goers to notice an extra pound of weight loss at the end of their workout, the weight lost is fluids from sweating and will be negated with a drink. The article suggests that working out in an overheated gym for a long period can result in a 50% less effective workout! All that sweating for nothing.

Risks of low temperatures in the gym

While it’s unlikely that your gym will be too cold, this does happen sometimes and it is just as problematic as sweltering away in a poorly ventilated gym. My Inner Go produced some conclusions regarding the pros and cons of working out in a cold environment and found that chilly temperatures brought with it a higher risk of injury. This is because muscles tend to seize up in the cold (which is why warming up before physical activity is so important). The website offered a great analogy for cold muscles: consider them like Play-Doh! When Play-Doh gets cold, it goes stiff and doesn’t stretch, it just snaps. But warm Play-Doh is stretchy and flexible.

How to keep gym and leisure centre temperatures perfectly regulated

To maintain a gym’s temperature, the function of each room and the nature of the activity being carried out should be considered. Investing in an efficient, responsive air conditioning system will help regulate a comfortable temperature within the building.

Working out in the most suitable environment will help you to get more out of each session, so keep customers feeling comfortable by monitoring your air conditioning unit and adjust it as necessary. If the gym starts to get a reputation for being freezing cold or too stuffy, gym goers will quickly turn to other establishments.

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