A Rough Guide to Leisure Centre Lighting

Key Points

Installing the right light bulbs in a leisure centre or gym can save money, improve how the space looks and reduce the building's carbon footprint. In this piece, we look at the following:

If you are responsible for the lighting of a leisure centre, you can speak to the team today for advice.
Call us on 0113 8876270 to find out more..

As the new year starts, many people make that fateful resolution to go to the gym more. But one thing that we're interested in is the resolution to make the lighting better!

Why is lighting important?

  • According to the Carbon Trust on average, 25% of a leisure centre's electricity costs come from lighting.
  • Certain sports can be affected by the lights, so the lighting needs to make sure the game is fair.
  • Increased productivity in office areas can lead to more efficiency and more customer satisfaction.
  • Our own research at LampShopOnline revealed that switching to LEDs could save a gym £3,212 a year in running costs

Reception Area

The reception area should be an inviting space that provides that little extra motivation boost before someone goes into the sports area.

This means bright lighting, as this is shown to be associated with positive emotions, increased alertness and can even make us run faster. Also the bright lights will make an employees day easier as it means the desk is clearly lit, and the lights will have a positive effect on them too. This leads to better customer service and more happy gym go-ers.


Good lighting with proper task lights on desks will make an employees job easier, as they can actually see what they are doing and will make it easier to get on with the task.

Also, as they are only used intermittently in a leisure centre setting, they could benefit from using occupancy sensors to reduce wasted electricity.

Changing Rooms

Changing Rooms need a balance of light. Much like a bathroom, lights need to be brighter over the mirrors to ensure a shadow-less reflection but there doesn't need to be as much in the toilets or showers. However, make sure there is sufficient light to see clearly, as a fall in the shower can be dangerous, especially for an athlete.

Sports Hall

There are many factors to consider for a sports hall lighting but the main concern should be giving the players enough light to play a fair game. Certain sports, such as badminton, do have some specific lighting requirements, so if a court is going to be solely for one sport it would be worth checking what set up it needs.

However for general sports courts:

  • Placement is key to avoiding glare which can be distracting and discomforting. This is why downlights are often used as you can usually incorporate glare control and they can be easily integrated into the roof structure.
  • Even illumination is key as it provides equal playing conditions form anywhere in the court.
  • Although the temptation is to use natural light as it is good for well-being and energy savings, there are some problems. Natural sunlight can cause reflections and glare which is difficult to manage, and there can be sudden fluctuations in the sunlight's intensity which may require back-up artificial lighting anyway. Daylight sensors may be a solution but the feasibility would need looking into.



Gym lighting should provide good lighting for concentration without being a distraction.

  • Ambient lights can make this space more attractive, and so a nicer place to work out in.
  • People lifting weights or doing muscle exercises will spend a lot of time looking at the ceiling and so having really bright open lights isn't a good, or safe, idea. Also panels on treadmills and cross-trainers are often tilted and so are susceptible to glare.  Avoiding direct light on these as much as possible should help fix this problem.
  • Take account of mirrored surfaces within the gym as these can reflect light and create shadows, and so should be factored into any design work.
  • Lighting controls should only be accessible to staff members.

Swimming Pool


Lighting for swimming pools can often be sufficiently provided by daylight for most of the day. However, for any extra overhead lights:

  • Aim to minimise glare off of the pool surface to make sure the swimmers and any lifeguards can comfortably see into the pool.
  • Guarantee any lights are able to deal with the warm temperatures and damp of the pool.

Also lifeguards need good visibility underneath the water, so lights are needed in the walls of the pool.  This can be done in two ways:

  • Dry, niche lighting= these are lights which are behind watertight portholes
  • Wet, niche lighting= these are recessed into the walls of the pool

In order to make sure the lights are definitely safe for use, lamps used in a swimming pool should be IP54 or higher, and you should always consult an expert. You can find out more about IP ratings here.

Outdoor Playing Fields

Lighting outside can increase the amount of training time a team has, especially in the winter months.

Metal Halide flood lights are a popular choice as they emit an intense bright light over a large area. However, SON (Sodium) flood lights have a longer life span, although the light they emit is a soft orange light. Also LED flood lights are becoming popular as the technology makes it easier to spread the light rather than having them focused on one point, and they beat both these lights in terms of life span.

Another point to remember is that the flood lights shouldn't fall onto any neighbouring properties as this can be labelled a nuisance causing light pollution.    

Car Park

Car Park lighting is vital for safety at night, both for drivers and pedestrians. Flood lights can be used here as well, and it has been suggested daylight sensors may be useful as even as it becomes gradually darker, the light remains constant.


Keeping skylights, windows and lights clean can hugely improve the quality of light in your leisure centre, as well as helping the overall cleanliness and appearance. You might be surprised by the brightness that is being hidden, as it has been estimated that light levels can drop 30% for every 2-3 years they are unmaintained.

By continuing the up-keep of the lighting, it will also make it easier to see which lights are broken or are becoming dim, and replace them quickly.

To find out more about selecting the right lighting for commercial purposes, call the team on 0113 8876270 or email

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