How to design the ultimate yacht gym

Building the ultimate workout space on a vessel can be hard. But how can you maximise space to maximise your muscles?

‘Money is no object,’ says yacht gym designer Mark Healy. ‘So everything can be bespoke and styled to the client’s individual needs.’

Healy, who designed his first gym in 1999, began working on super yachts in 2006 when he was part of the team that fitted out The Maltese Falcon, one of the world’s largest sailing yachts. And, although the fitness specialist says that cost is rarely a concern – ‘You could have everything chromed if you wanted’ – he does admit that there are limitations to what can be built in on-board gyms.

 ‘Obviously, as we’re at sea, equipment has to have the ability to be attached to the wall, strapped down or stowed in an integrated shelving system during a rough crossing.

Money is no object - so everything can be bespoke and styled to the client’s individual needs

 ‘So this does restrict what equipment you can have,’ Healy continues. ‘You can have weights but, with dumbbells for example, the weights would have to be hexagonal or have flat sides to ensure they don’t roll as the boat tilts. And it’s those little things people don’t think about.’

Another often unanticipated problem with gyms-at-sea, the designer adds, is the positioning of the equipment. 

 ‘We once did a very large gym, where the owners wanted two treadmills,’ says Healy. ‘The original designer had positioned one facing fore and one facing aft. But, if the yacht listed from side to side when the treadmills were in that position, you’d effectively end up running sideways along a sloped surface.

You can have weights but, with dumbbells for example, the weights would have to be hexagonal or have flat sides to ensure they don’t roll as the boat tilts

 ‘Instead, we orientated them so they faced the side of the boat. This way, when the room tilted, it’d just be like you were running up or downhill, which is a lot more manageable.’

Healy says that the biggest challenge is not the movement, however, but rather developing space-saving solutions for normal equipment. From folding treadmills to two-piece rowing machines that dismantle when not in use, the solutions are innovative, but when fully assembled, the gyms look reassuringly normal.

 ‘There’s nothing really that out of the ordinary,’ says Healy. ‘A gym’s a gym, after all. That said, some Russians request snow rooms – they do like their cold!’

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