A ground-breaking women-only fitness club in Saudi Arabia.
London 2012 was the first Olympics in which every national team included a woman. But although Saudi Arabia was one of the three countries fielding female athletes for the first time, only 33% of Saudi women practice sports regularly. Sport remains an elite activity, limited to those who can afford expensive health club memberships. NuYu in Riyadh aims to bring about cultural change by giving all women access to affordable fitness in a welcoming gym space with a strong sense of sanctuary.
Drawing from a depth of experience in creating leisure and health facilities, Orms’ design was driven by a desire not to conform to a typical spa feel, or the ‘no frills’ aesthetic of many budget gyms. Instead the club has an ambience more akin to a boutique hotel, with many playful design touches that result in an unintimidating space with a strong sense of openness and fun. At the heart of NuYu is a double-height space which connects the floors and provides a communal lounging and relaxation area. Quirky finger posts provide clear wayfinding from the central space to the changing rooms, gym and fitness studios. Throughout, the many domestic touches – mirrors, cushions and low-level lighting – give the space personality and warmth, engendering a sense of ownership in the women who use the club.