motive8 provides Dolphin Square with a smart approach to new gym and studio design

Located in Pimlico near the River Thames, Dolphin Square is one of London’s most distinguished rental addresses. With a colourful history, this unique development of residential flats has just completed Phase 1 of a large-scale restoration programme and now boasts a state-of-the-art gym, new spin and fitness studios and restored squash courts open to residents and external members. The swimming pool, sauna and steam will return in 2024.

Back in February 2022, construction and development consultancy Radcliffes, made contact with motive8 with a design brief for a full refurbishment of the main gym on the ground floor together with a spin studio, yoga studio, main class studio and two smaller personal training/class studios in the basement.

Working closely with the client, our design team arranged a trade in for all existing kit, the value of which was offset against the final kit price. We also coordinated the removal of this kit in stages, to enable the gym to stay open as we started the refurbishment operation. At stage one, we moved some of the kit to the basement to create a temporary gym so users could still work out whilst the main gym refurbishment began. Then, the whole site was closed for a few weeks, whilst we took the temporary basement out and the installation of everything new began. As Life Fitness equipment had previously been in place, we installed a full suite of new cardio and resistance kit from their latest ranges. We specified a mix of powered, in-built media cardio models alongside some human powered ones to work in areas with no power supply. This was complemented by cardio items from other suppliers such as Wattbike, Concept2, an Assault air bike and curved air runner.


Weight training is very popular with Dolphin Square residents so we designed a bespoke rig for group training - that could also be used as a half rack at one end of the gym during busy times - with multiple accessories such as landmine, dip station, TRX loops and boxing stations. Three reduced height half racks were installed to accommodate the low ceiling height, with in-built storage and bespoke timber platforms into the free weight flooring which we also provided. Lots of plate loaded equipment was also installed, with bumper and urethane plates to complement the full range of resistance stations and two dual adjustable pulleys and a Smith machine.

Bespoke storage units were also supplied in the main gym and main studio to store functional training items such as slam balls, core bags, kettlebells, boxing gloves etc. In the mini studios, we dedicated one to more holistic workouts, with yoga mats, blocks and straps, and the other as a boxing studio, with free standing bags, gloves and jab pads.

The spin studio was kitted out with 20 top of the range Life Fitness IC7 spin bikes, with instructor pedestal for running interactive classes.

As the class timetable wasn’t finalised at the time of install, we made provision for more equipment to be installed in the future such as additional resistance equipment upstairs, more boxing kit downstairs and some fresh Pilates and yoga accessories and four ballet barres to the Yoga studio.

We knew a project of this scale would propose a few challenges but our experienced design team carefully navigated the narrow spaces and low services and ceiling heights. The ceiling height in the main gym was also only 2.4m, so we had bespoke rig and half racks made and opted for models of kit that worked with a low ceiling height for a gym. Access to the basement was particularly difficult as a lot of other refurbishment works were taking place at the same time including the closed pool area so the team found ways to work around these challenges.

Utilising our existing knowledge of designing gyms within tight spaces and our experience of providing high-end fitness solutions in residential developments we were able to deliver a fully functioning residential fitness space at Dolphin Square to budget and within all agreed timescales.


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