On making a gym inspiring

Craig: Today, we’re going to talk about gym construction and design standards and these kinds of ideas. First, I want to try and explain why this is really important, and one [00:01:00] of the things you and I talked about is the idea of a gym being inspiring. You walk into the gym, and some gyms just click. You can see the high level athletes, it’s a kid in a candy store, and good luck getting them out at closing time.

And, I’m just wondering if you can help me unpack a little bit about how do you put that inspiration into the gym and how does that inspiration in the gym relate to what one might find outside.

Andy: When I sit down to design a gym, I try to call to the inner child that [00:01:30] is in us that makes us wanna play. This is true when I design anything, but we can talk about gyms specifically here. Whenever you go to certain spots, some spots just call to you, and though you go to other spots, you can play there for hours and train and do things, but you don’t ever really drive back there. That really shows in a lot of gym design because you can go into spaces, and [00:02:00] you can train forever, right, and you can play and do that.

But it takes sometimes emotional energy to make that happen as opposed to there are just like when you walk into some big, brightly-colored space, you just feel like a kid. Right? If it looks like a video game, if it looks … like the video games sell for reasons. They’re hitting some sort of base, inner [00:02:30] thing that’s in us that makes us just want to explore and play. If you design a facility so that this is the section that has bars, this is the sections that will have mobile obstacles so I can teach my classes, this is the sections that have concrete walls. This is where they will jump.

Craig: Here’s where climbing challenges go, right?

Andy: Yeah, exactly. Whenever you do that, you can go in, and you can train, and you can do some cool stuff, but [00:03:00] it is … That is one way to stifle some of that call to us because if you go and you have this jumpy section that has a bunch of walls and whatever, and you just stick one bar in it, people will play on that bar. It will just call to them a little bit. They’ll be like, “What is that? What can I do here?”

Craig: Why is there a bar here? I don’t know. I got an idea.

Andy: Yeah, right? If you take your big flat 4 x 4 x 8 box, right, and just put an indent window into it and [00:03:30] then put a 4 x 4 sticking out of it like six inches, people will play on that. And the nuances and the intricacies in the design really make us want to interact with it.

Now, you can design things that push people away because you’ve got this sweet bar setup right here, right? And you’ve got an eight-foot span on the back, so you can get a full swing on it, but then in front of it, it’s got a four foot, four feet away from that bar, there’s a pole sticking out, [00:04:00] right? It’s aimed at the bar, and you’re like, “I don’t want to swing on that”, right? It’s just scary looking. And you can build things that are just too close to an edge, and there’s concrete right next to it, and you’re like, “Ah, I don’t want to do this thing there. I’d love to, but it’s scary.” And there are some things that we want to do that encourage you to overcome fear, but we don’t want things to be needlessly, like we-

Craig: We don’t want to bring danger to the party just for fun, right?

Andy: Yeah, right? So, having things … Putting those types of things in your design in a way that makes you just want to explore the area is really important, and it’s something that you kind of have to have an eye for. You have to sit down and understand, because we’re not talking about like … A lot of people may not even agree that this is something that you should do.

Some people might have the opinion [00:05:00] that they’re extremely utilitarian. They want to have this space here, this space here, this space here because it makes sense for their business, how things flow. You have to, in your philosophy of how you train and what you do, have to believe that this is a thing, this thing that I’m talking about, this child-like “want to play,” because some people don’t even tap into it or use that in it because of the way that they practice parkour, so you have to believe that. And then after you believe that, you have [00:05:30] to figure out-just explore-

Craig: Like how am I going to implement that? How is that gonna come to life in my design, in my space?

Andy: Yeah, see … Look at it in every little instance, say that this is a factor, this is a check mark box for each thing that I design. What can be done here? Can kids play on it? Yes/no. Can adults play on it? Yes/no. Can … Is it pretty enough? Is it slippery? Is it built sturdy? Is it something that calls to people? And each one of these are different check mark boxes. And you should be looking at each one of these [00:06:00] as a legitimate factor when you design any space or any single obstacle.

Craig: Yeah, subspace through a micro component.