Layouts for good workouts

Updated: Nov 13 2005, 05:30am hrs
With the percentage of overweight adults and children in India reaching epidemic proportions, aggressive measures to get obese society to move, and eat less is growing. Homeowners need to take health making decisions, get homes remodelled or resort to new layouts which can provide and promote physical fitness. Good health can be achieved through sensible architecture.

Home fitness needs to address expanding waistlines, people with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, breathing problems, sleep apnea and so on. Exercise has to be more than convenient. Reshaping homes to accommodate fitness is fast becoming essential. Exercise rooms are getting their share of importance in new homes or remodelled homes. From being simple to complex, size of a home gym can be of that of the second largest bedroom. It is becoming a room with its own view and light.

People are encouraged and even enticed into walking and moving more in their homes without knowing. Homes in future might include interactive virtual aerobic trainers built into the wall of a home gym. These trainers can sense how you move, provide corrections on a move. Movement of feet on steps can activate music movement and as people move up and down the stairs, their activity plays musical rhythms. In this fun-filled game like thing, people will get more exercise. A virtual scenery can be created while you run on exercise bike, on line buddy can bike with you. Distinctively shaped skylights, windows and doors can offer fascinating patterns of light that heighten sensation of motion. Every step around the house can change its outlook urging visitors to step further, pause a while and continue.

For fitness freaks, one fourth of the house can be devoted to fitness. All rooms will have something to offer, revving up the body, reviving spirit and refreshing mind. Privacy is important in the fitness focussed layouts. It is desirable to get out of the master bedroom quietly and go downstairs to have a full morning workout before the day starts. A swimming pool in the house should be designed such that the change rooms are well integrated in the whole scheme.

Where space is a constraint, for instance, having a dance floor in a home would be waste of space if utilised only for few hours a day. It would be better to have a multi-functional space. Resilient wood floor conducive for dance and also aesthetically pleasing otherwise. Mirrored walls would also double as closet doors with the ballet bar serving as cabinet handles.

Within one closet could be a Murphy bed pulled down for additional sleeping accommodation. Stairs are one architectural feature that can be good for health. Walking up stairs is a great exercise for heart, legs and lungs. Thirty minutes of climbing steep stairs can burn 300 calories. Well thought out stairs becomes a living space in its own right.

To get children away from the allure of TV and computers, children friendly modifications are essential - transforming spaces like garage into kid centre gym, child size treadmills and bikes, and rock climbing walls are becoming increasingly popular with the kids.

Indoor activity can include gym, pool, spas, saunas, yoga and dance studio. At home spa is the latest trend in bath design offering personal space for pampering and a way to soothe aching muscles after a workout.

A home spa can be part of a bathroom. Ideally, a spa room is designed to be serene and have multiple sources of mood restoring light. Desirable features may include a steam shower, a soaking tub and floor warmed by radiant heating.

Outdoor activity can include a tennis court, basketball court, squash court and jogging path depending on how much area is available. Fitness can be integrated into home design. A house should be seen as a journey for its inhabitants. It should inspire motion. Its design should encourage its inhabitants to live a healthy and fit life.