COMBIflo keeps up with fitness enthusiasts at IMPERIUM GYM

When Ben Hay and Ben Wadham set up a gym in a small 1000sqft unit, their client base expanded rapidly. More space was required, so with a bit of help from Ben’s father Steven Hay, they set out to create a purpose-built gym like no other, and asked Andrews Water Heaters to provide a hot water solution that would help them achieve this dream.

Imperium Gym in Plymouth is not your average run-of-the-mill fitness centre. It offers everything including a state-of-the-art cardio, strength and fitness suite, a full functional fitness area and coached classes.

The gym is home to Plymouth’s Cross-Fit workout sessions amongst other functional fitness training programmes. The gym was the dream of ex-marine physical training instructor Ben Wadham and brought to life by Ben Hay and his family. It started in a 1,000sqft building. Within one year, membership had increased to 100 people. To cater for the rise in demand, Ben and his father Steve worked with local contractors to create an 8,000 sq ft purpose-built unit. Apart from dedicated equipment and space for Crossfit, Strongman and gymnastics training, there is also a café next door for those who wish to replenish their energy levels after a workout.

During the early stages of the new gym’s development, Ben and Steve sought the services of Zack Davey’s team at Uni Gas, not only to connect the property up to the mains gas supply, but also to install a solution which would supply space heating and hot water to both the gym and the café.

Because gym-goers prefer to exercise in a cool space, space-heating requirement in the large industrial unit is low. However, with ten showers, eight washing basins and a kitchen, demand for instantaneous hot water is much higher.

“My original plan was to install a boiler cascade with a series of cylinders, but this wouldn’t have been energy efficient for the gym,” Zack explains.

“After discussing hot water usage patterns with Ben and Steve, it became clear that during weekdays, peak shower times are before and after working hours, so typically, between 7-8.30am and 6-7pm. At weekends, many members like to go to the gym in the morning between 9.30-10.30am. The café normally needs hot water about 20 minutes after members finish their workouts and go there to grab a bite to eat or a drink.”

Armed with this insight into the gym’s hot water usage, Zack challenged Amanda Symons, Area Sales Manager for Andrews Water Heaters, to provide a solution. She recommended a COMBIflo 150/300 unit, and supported her proposal with a specification report produced using the Size-it tool. It contained calculations and estimates of the flow rate and volume of hot water required across the premises, to show that the specified Andrews water heater would meet the gym’s needs.

Amanda explains, “For this type of application where demand for hot water is higher than space heating, the COMBIflo provides a simple solution. With three burners, the COMBIflo can modulate between periods of high and low demand to supply hot water and heating more efficiently, lowering the gym’s energy bills throughout the whole life of the product.”

Andrews Water Heaters’ COMBIflo is a gas-fired condensing stainless steel water heater which provides hot water and space heating from the same unit. Available with either two or three gas fired heat exchangers, it delivers a virtually instantaneous supply of up to 2,240 litres per hour of hot water (at a 50°C rise) or 150kW of space heating.

Zack was impressed with the service received from Amanda and Andrews Water Heaters. “The calculations not only helped me to decide on the right product, but also allowed me to show Ben and Steve that the COMBIflo would perform more efficiently and be more cost-effective in the long run.”

Because the COMBIflo unit provides a pre-packaged turnkey solution, the installation process was simplified. “It was a much neater job with just one piece of kit compared to my original plan, and the installation was really straightforward,” Zack said. “Ben and Steve won’t need to spend as much money on maintenance for pumps, cylinders or valves either.”

The absence of extra plant and heating accessories has also freed up space for the gym to store fitness equipment. To help the gym become even more energy efficient, zone controls were installed in the workout areas, changing rooms and the café, so that each zone could be heated to different temperatures at different times.

“After a workout, our members want the convenience of having showers and using the café before they set off. It’s important to meet their expectations and not let them down,” says Ben. “I’m pleased with the COMBIflo. We’ve had no issues with it and it’s running effectively. It’s met our requirements and I would definitely consider using an Andrews water heater again for future projects.”

Completed in February 2017 and opened the following month, the gym has been enjoying great success. If the owners wish to expand the building, the system has been future- proofed to provide hot water for more showers and heating for additional spaces to keep up with the gym’s pace.