Fitness Centers

Posted on - Monday, November 2nd, 2015

In the 2010 ADA Standards and the 2012 TAS, certain elements that are associated with fitness centers and recreation centers were added to the requirements for accessibility. Some of these elements were exercise equipment, saunas, swimming pools, and even team player seating.

Most of the time when I am inspecting the project, the owners will inquire the reasons why their facility must be accessible since fitness centers typically for able bodied patrons. What they sometimes don’t understand is that there are different levels of ability that persons with disabilities possess. There are some very active people that use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches or canes. Just because they are in a wheelchair or may have other mobility issues does not mean that they also should not enjoy going to a rec center or fitness center.

This newsletter will explain a few of the requirements and attempt to clarify some of the misconceptions.

Exercise equipment

ADA 1004.1 Clear Floor Space. Exercise machines and equipment shall have a clear floor space complying with 305 [30″x48″ and no changes in level] positioned for transfer or for use by an individual seated in a wheelchair. Clear floor or ground spaces required at exercise machines and equipment shall be permitted to overlap.


Each type of equipment must have the clear floor space next to it, but two pieces of equipment can share the space.


It is not necessary for the clear floor space to be located adjacent each piece of equipment. One of each type is all that is required. The photo above shows several tread mills but only one is required to have the clear floor space, and it is also being shared with the stationary bike.



The clear floor space of this treadmill was narrower than 30″. This is a simple fix of just moving over the equipment to achieve compliance.


Rec Centers and fitness centers typically have a reception desk where they will check people in. This is considered a “service counter” and therefore must meet the requirements for ADA Section 904. A portion of the counter must be at 36″ a.f.f. maximum and be no shorter than 36″ wide.


This reception counter does not have an accessible portion at the public side. The lower counter where the attendant is seated is part of the work area, and could possibly be used as the accessible counter if it was 36″ long.

5% of lockers that are provided must have the proper hardware that does not require tight grasping and twisting of the wrist to operate. In addition, those accessible lockers must be within reach range.



This locker is mounted higher than the required 48″ a.f.f. and the operable part (the key) is the type that requires tight grasping and twisting of the wrist to open.

Fitness Centers also have locker rooms and toilet/shower rooms that are provided. The locker rooms must have accessible lockers (within reach range and type of operation) as well as an accessible bench per section 903


Showers and other restroom facilities will also require access.  I did a newsletter about this shower seats.  Click here for the archive.
Swimming pools and spas are also sometimes provided at rec centers/fitness centers.  I discussed swimming pools in a separate newsletter. Click here for the archive

No Limits!

So when they ask you, why are you designing golf courses, tennis courts, rec centers and swimming pools for the disabled, remind them that there are some awesome athletes that do things just a little differently!

Upcoming Continuing Education Opportunities

November 5 and 6: “Texas Accessibility Standards: A Success story of inclusion for over 20 years” TxA convention in Dallas, Texas

November 17th: “Applying the ADA on Existing and Altered Buildings” provided by Green CE

On Demand Webinar: “Understanding the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design”

If you are interested in Building Code seminars check out my colleague Shahla Layendecker with SSTL Codes

If you want to learn more about these standards, be sure to check out my books:

“The ADA Companion Guide”  “Applying the ADA” published by Wiley. 


They are available for sale now. (also available as an e-book)

If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714

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