Iowa State University’s Unique Fitness Floor Layout

When Iowa State University decided to add on to the gym’s recreation center, known as the State Gym, it put more than just an ounce of thought into it. “We put extensive thought into the layout of our fitness center,” said Doug Arrowsmith, the State Gym’s assistant director.

In addition to relying on the recreation staff’s many years of expertise, the State Gym asked for outside opinions from both vendors and students. “We also wanted to hear user input from a student perspective and also the viewpoints of fitness professionals [and] architects,” explained Arrowsmith. “We wanted to hear the trends that they see around the country in other recreation facilities and health clubs.”

Having multiple perspectives turned out to be invaluable. “For example, one of our female staff suggested switching where we had the ellipticals located with where we had upright bikes located. We had originally located the ellipticals near the free weight area. If a patron were using the power racks, they could potentially be looking at the back side of the patrons on the ellipticals.”

The staff determined this could be an issue. “She felt like it would be less invasive and less awkward to have the stationary bikes in that area instead,” continued Arrowsmith. “We agreed with her and ended up doing what she had suggested, but hadn’t originally thought that through.”

Attention to detail spans across the State Gym’s two floors. For example, on the first floor, patrons will find the heavy free weight area, which Arrowsmith explained was intentional. “More of the hardcore weight lifters tend to utilize the equipment on the first floor,” he said. “This was intentionally done by our staff in anticipation of that would be how it was used, and we were right in that assessment.”

On the second floor, patrons will find a mix of cardio and selectorized pieces. “We tried to put similar selectorized weight machines on the second floor so people that may be a bit more intimidated have a less busy area to workout,” explained Arrowsmith.

Although the State Gym’s staff continually evaluates the layout, Arrowsmith believes the current setup is ideal. “We have tweaked a few things from time to time, but we really haven’t had to change too much,” he said.

Ultimately, this is the case due to the time, effort and consultation the State Gym placed into the layout. “It is good to consult with as many people as possible beforehand to get different opinions and viewpoints before formulating your own ideas,” said Arrowsmith. “If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to admit it, change it and make it better for everyone involved.”


Rachel is the Editor and Chief of Peake Media. She can be reached at

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