As Featured in. 

The next era of fitness is more time, space and equipment dedicated to muscle repair and general wellness.

After strength training, you recline on an infrared therapy bed then opt for time in the hyperbaric chamber to optimize muscle repair.

You’re not at a swish spa or flashy fitness facility. You’re home, and these state-of-the-art treatments are becoming components of high-end personal gym setups.Fitness design group home gym design.

Call it the second phase of the home fitness revolution. As Covid spread and gyms shut their doors, more of us realized we could create the full range of fitness experiences at home, whether that meant a Peloton in the den or weight racks in the basement.

Now, we’re prizing wellness as much as fitness, and home gyms are reflecting that. Around 50% of U.S. consumers reported wellness as a top priority in their day-to-day lives in a September 2022 McKinsey survey.

 “Consumers increasingly value and seek out products and services that can address needs across several wellness dimensions,” McKinsey said.

“There’s a broader vision now of home wellness beyond exercise,” said Bryan Green, founder of Fitness Design Group, a gym design and wellness consultancy in Santa Monica, California. “We see it in the types of spaces we’re asked to design.”

Make Room for Recovery

“Recovery” is the buzzword among clients who are building home gyms, said Chris Howell, CEO of New York-based health and wellness advisory firm SPX, whose clients include One Hotels and Gurney’s resorts along with residential customers. “Five years ago, it wouldn’t have even been a topic of conversation,” he said.

If clients already have a home gym, they’re expanding it by building additions onto backyards or other available space to make room for recovery-aiding equipment, he said.

At Gym Marine in Bath, England, whose fitness-design business for superyachts has expanded to private homes, a full-time spa consultant is now part of the team, said Edward Thomas, Gym Marine’s managing partner. “Wellness is now a universal trend,” he said. “And the world changed when we were all told we shouldn’t be in crowded spaces. Your home can be your personal playground.”

While recommendations for wellness components for home gyms depend on space, budget and a client’s needs, experts agreed on elements like hot and cold exposure, oxygenation therapy, massage and pro-level equipment like altitude chambers. Your options will also depend on plumbing, power and even outdoor space.

Get Hot and Very Cold

Mr. Howell said he recommends traditional saunas over trendier options like infrared therapy, “which don’t yet have the significant studies or science that dry saunas have,” he said. Custom-built saunas can run as high as $50,000. Frigid immersion complements the heat; cold pools start at around $6,000, though celebrity-endorsed brands like Cold Plunge and Blue Cube can run more than double that, he said.

Mr. Thomas of Gym Marine said that some clients are requesting cryotherapy, or extreme cold. He recommended the Italian-designed, French-engineered Icepod, which drops to minus-110 degrees Fahrenheit “without an enormous chiller, so it’s 50% smaller than almost any rival. It’s so, so cool.”

To accommodate wellness-oriented equipment, which can have a large footprint, “we’re now designing outdoor spaces, not just interiors, which had been prevalent,” said Mr. Green of Fitness Design Group.

Oxygen Therapy Goes Mainstream

Hyperbaric chambers, pressurized for higher intake of pure oxygen, “are edging out of the medical and performance arenas and into the general public,” Mr. Howell said. Just 20 or 30 minutes daily “can promote injury healing and cognitive function,” he said.

Remedy Place, the hip spa in New York and Los Angeles, is launching a line of hyperbaric chambers priced from about $60,000-$100,000, Mr. Howell said. “Think of it like an Emirates first-class seat with a chamber around it. You can work in there or watch TV while the therapy takes effect.”

AirPod, a sleek Australian device, gets Mr. Thomas’s endorsement for oxygenation benefits.

“It’s slim and self-contained, and you sit in a very comfy chair,” he said. “There’s also a lying-down version. Your body is infused with oxygen, which relieves inflammation and stress, and promotes anti-aging and body recovery.”

Upgrade the Old Massage Chair 

Old-fashioned massage is still a key component of recovery, but it’s getting some very updated twists.

“I tried a robotic massager called Aescape recently, and it changed my game on massage therapy,” Mr. Howell said. Using a tablet, clients choose preferred massage techniques; AI-powered Aescape can also mimic techniques of celebrity masseurs, Mr. Howell said. The estimated cost for a residential unit may run $90,000 when it hits the market this year, he said.

Altitude Therapy

Hypobaric treatments, or altitude therapy, “is the opposite of hyperbaric treatment,” Mr. Howell said. An altitude chamber simulates conditions found at high altitudes. “Instead of an hour on a bike, you can spend 30 minutes in the chamber and get a much higher caloric expenditure, because it forces your body to work harder.”

While altitude therapy is popular with military gyms, private clients have started inquiring about the technique, Mr. Howell said.

Wellness, of course, comes at a cost. Mr. Howell estimates that a client in the Hamptons recently spent “$85,000 on a hyperbaric chamber, $14,000 on a sauna, $15,000 on a cold-plunge pool, and another $15,000 on decking and landscaping around his new equipment.” For $125,000-$150,000, “you’re getting an insane setup,” he said.

Likewise, Mr. Thomas of Gym Marine said a gym with top-end recovery options would run about £150,000 (US$183,600),

But your home gym doesn’t need all the things. Mr. Green of Fitness Design Group said creating a “comprehensive space dedicated to home wellness” can range from just $15,000 to $80,000.

“If there’s one misconception, it’s that you need so much equipment,” he said. “You need open space to move, and you need to pick a space where you’re motivated, energized and actually enjoy spending time. Think about the experience, and think about convenience. Less is more.”

For Newer Technology, Try Light Therapy

Many of these new technologies build on the foundations of existing spa amenities to enhance the medical benefits associated with particular treatments and practices. “A sauna is good but an infrared sauna not only heats the body from the outside but also from the inside, so now we can use technology to bring everything one step further and really use the science to maximize the benefits,” Ms. Sardain said.

Light therapy, used to treat everything from skin conditions and aging, to depression and insomnia, to cancer, is a particularly interesting new wellness tool that can easily be incorporated into a home spa setting. Red light therapy, often used to reduce scarring or wrinkles and combat signs of aging, can be administered using a mask over the face, but a homeowner particularly keen to harness its benefits might consider building an entire red-light chamber.

“We know that red light therapy is especially beneficial for everything anti-inflammatory. At the same time, green light can be really interesting because it’s more focused on the skin, so it’s used for under eye circles or hyperpigmentation, things like this,” Ms. Sardain said. “So each different light can be used for something different and that’s something that can relatively easily be incorporated into a home.”