Are you looking for the best way to construct a gym landing pit for your next project?

When you’re considering designing a gym landing pit, substructures are a good option compared to lifting the pits and runways out of the ground.

Excavating the gym landing pits or making them the same level as the floor provides a decent below-ground space for athletes and gymnasts to use when making jumps and performing stunts.

But which method of below-ground construction is best for a gym landing pit? Glad you asked.

We’re going to compare the most common substructure method with a little-known alternative – our alternative, in fact – called prefabricated steel.

In situ poured concrete

Let’s begin with the most obvious choice; you’ve probably heard of in situ poured concrete before – and may have even used it countless times if you’re not new to below-ground construction.

It’s been in use by the construction industry for the past 80 – 100 years, after all.

However, despite this being a common method of below-ground construction, it can be challenging, and the process can lead to substructures that have a low tolerance level, and may even lead to leaks and cracks – not great if your project is in a high water table area.

Not to mention the fact that you’ll need operatives to enter the excavation to complete the works. And that’s not even mentioning the weather conditions in good old Britain. There’s also the logistics involved in moving the materials, leading to increased risk of issues and stress.

Saying that, it’s still most likely the best solution if you need a substructure to cover a large area (like a super basement, for example). Most gym landing pits don’t fall into this category, though.

The pros of in situ concrete:

  • It’s often the cheapest method of constructing below-ground
  • It can be very effective when properly constructed
  • It’s a well-established method used for over 100 years
  • It works well on large-scale substructures

The cons of in situ concrete:

  • There’s a chance it can leak once constructed – often caused by reduced skill levels and on-site quality control when being constructed
  • It’s very labour intensive on-site work – and it can take a long time. You also have to wait for the concrete to cure before you can can load it
  • This method can easily be out of tolerance (at around +-20mm)
  • In order for your team to work safely, you’ll need a large excavation site
  • Quality control on the finish is not assured
  • It only lasts for around 30 years in the ground
  • It tends to create a lot of waste
  • Problems can occur if batches of concrete are mixed up. I.e. the wrong concrete mix is supplied during the concrete pour by the plant. This issue is only discovered after 28 days when the cube tests are completed and may lead to sections of concrete having to be broken out.

Ideally used for: Large-scale scenarios – actually, it’s often the only way large-scale projects can be completed

Typical costs: £500 – £2,000 per sq. metre

Prefabricated steel

So, by now you might be thinking ‘is there a better way to construct gym landing pits?’. Well, potentially, yes. Prefabricated steel is a much more innovative method of below-ground construction, but not everyone’s heard of it yet.

Prefabricated steel substructures are made entirely out of steel, off-site in a factory environment under strict quality control, along with constant monitoring and controlling. The benefits? Well, for starters, they won’t leak or crack.

This is because they’re uniquely constructed using steel plates which are welded together – similar to the hull of a boat. This is particularly effective if your project is in a high water table area – or if time is a main driver for your project.

Using this method of construction can mean your time on-site is reduced by around 70 – 80%. It can also be built to very, very high tolerances (+-2mm/3mm), and lowers long-term maintenance costs.

TIP: Want to know more about steel prefabrication? Read my recent blog: ‘What is Steel Prefabrication Below-Ground and How Does it Work?’.

So, how does this compare to in situ at a glance?

Pros of prefabricated steel:

  • Jobs can be completed 70 – 80% faster (typically in a matter of days compared to weeks/months)
  • Each project is built to bespoke specifications
  • This method will not leak
  • It’s built to very, very high tolerances (+-2mm/3mm)
  • The long-term costs are much cheaper, with less long-term maintenance required
  • Prefabricated steel substructures can last for over 100 years in the ground
  • It comes with a full design package from your subcontractor

Cons of prefabricated steel:

  • It can seem expensive
  • It’s an innovative method that  very few people are aware of yet. People who are unfamiliar with a concept are generally sceptical about it

Ideally used for: When your substructure is on the critical path of the programme, must be built to tight tolerances/precision engineering, or if a project is located in a high water table area and long-term water ingress is a concern.

Average costs: £800 – £3,000 per sq. metre

Advice from a specialist subcontractor

When considering the pros and cons of prefabricated steel for your below-ground substructure, consider the speed of what we do vs the ROI (return on investment).

Most gym pits are bespoke, depending on the location of the equipment and size/shape of the property. Considering prefabricated steel substructures are always built to bespoke specifications, this is generally a good fit.

It’s also good to bear in mind that for gym landing pits, it’s often the case that prefabricated steel can be twice as quick on-site compared to in situ – allowing you to open the gym one month earlier, and gain one more month of revenue.

Not to mention, you’ll have peace of mind that your product is 100% watertight and of a high quality build.

TIP: Check out our case study of Witham Gym, Lovells, to get a better idea of how a prefabricated steel substructure can make a difference to your project.


Thanks for reading. I hope this blog has given you a better idea of how prefabricated steel compares to in situ concrete when deciding on the best method of below-ground construction for your gym landing pit.

If you’d like to learn more about whether prefabricated steel might be a good option for your project, I’d urge you to get in touch with us to discuss your options further – we’re happy to listen, and offer a completely tailored service.

Alternatively, if you have any more general questions, just leave me a comment below – I’ll be happy to reply with something helpful!