Adding showers to your studio locker rooms can provide clients with big benefits. For busy, always-on-the-go clients, offering a clean and comfortable private space to clean up and change can mean they are able to squeeze more of your classes into their hectic schedule. You’ll attract the workout-before-work crowd and the pre-happy hour revelers.

When considering installing showers in a new studio or remodeling your existing studio to provide them for your clients’ use, ask yourself these basic questions first:

1. What should I expect about obtaining permits?
Every city has their own building and health codes that will not only dictate if you can install showers, but will also provide guidance on some design specifics. Incorporating these requirements is essential when starting a project from scratch, but they are also important when remodeling or upgrading existing buildings.

Some cities have complex codes so you may need to consult a real estate attorney. In New York City, for example, any time you open a studio, whether for spin classes, kickboxing, martial arts, crossfit or a big chain gym, you have to file for a special permit to open a Physical Culture or Health Establishment (PCE) with the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals. The City only allows fitness studios in certain commercial and manufacturing districts. The PCE application process has a lengthy timeline (roughly six to nine months). The first application you submit automatically will be disapproved because opening a fitness studio is illegal without special permission. So, you or your attorney then has to apply for a special permit and that application will be reviewed by the city’s Board of Standards and is subject to community board review and public hearing. All studios have to show the Board of Standards a detailed floor plans for their space, that includes locker rooms, showers, steam rooms or saunas, studios and open gym space. If you have a permit approved and want to change it after, you have to file an application request for modification to the grant. The PCE permit is site specific and operator specific. If you have a special permit for one location, it doesn’t mean you can open a different studio in the same location or a studio in another location without going through the process again.

And yogis, your studios have different requirements from other fitness businesses and require a different permit from the Department of Buildings.

Older buildings may be grandfathered in on some aspects of building codes, but once you start making changes, you may be required to bring everything up to date. Having to bring your studio up to code may end up costing you a lot more than you budgeted for the simple shower installation.

2. How much space do I need for showers?
According to The American College of Sports Medicine, you should provide 10 to 20 square feet of space per person in the locker room. Design your space to accommodate your busiest classes, or how many people you expect to be using the showers and locker room at the height of your studio’s rush hours. Your showers always should be ready for the biggest crowd they’ll ever have, which means enough lockers, enough soap in the dispensers and space to dress.

3. How do I prepare my clients for a renovation?
If you decide to install showers in your studio, and you decide to remain open during the renovation, preparing your clients for the construction is essential.

If you want to remain open, speak with your contractor about what facilities will need to be off limits. Work with your architect and general contractor to develop a phasing plan. Make sure your clients have access to a bathroom with a sink at all times. Find space to create a private changing area as well.

Send emails and post signs with dates you expect construction to take place. In these communications, make sure to highlight the benefits these showers will bring to the client experience, if they mind your appearance for the short-term. Involve and include your clients during the remodeling process by finding ways to celebrate the construction activities. Consider tying the remodel into a theme for a class.

4. Besides the showers, what else will we need?
If you add showers, you have to make sure there are lockers to hold your clients’ clothes and toiletries. You have to have enough space for them to dress with enough mirrors and counter space for their prep. You should also have blow dryers and plenty of electric outlets available.

In addition to the showers, you may want to offer complementary products, such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, styling products, lotions, etc. If you have beauty retail at your studio, this could be a good opportunity to let clients “try before they buy.” ShowerPill Body Wipes are often a popular choice as a shower alternative, and they can be complementary or sold as a retail item.

If you supply workout towels, you may want to extend the service and have bath towels and bathmats for client use. Consider how this will impact the frequency laundry will need to be done, or, if you have a laundry service, calculate that additional cost as well.

5. How do I make sure the showers are really clean?
Showers are the number one place clients will look to assess the cleanliness of your studio. IHRSA recommends showers be scrubbed daily.

Before scrubbing, a shower has to be dry to be properly cleaned and disinfected. Water in the shower can allow for bacteria to survive and actually spread during cleaning. Clean with multiple types of cleaners. Detergent-based cleaners can be used to remove the bacteria and cleaning products with disinfecting agents will get rid of viruses that can lead to influenza, rashes and other types of infection. Bleach is a good disinfectant option for cleaning showers.

6. Do I need additional insurance?
Always check with your insurance agent before making any changes to the structure of your studio. Showers are covered under your business’ general liability policy, but because all policies are different, confirm you’re covered before the first sledgehammer hits the wall.

Answering these questions can help you decide if installing showers in your studio is the right choice for your business.