Can I just say that I am bursting to tell you all about this fantastic facility that The Gait Center gets to call home!!! We host most likely the longest set of parallel bars in the country, along with an indoor running track, a custom-designed stair & ramp assembly, etc, etc, etc! This could end up being a long “write-up,” so I’ll start with our top features. Our one-of-a-kind, specially designed facility includes:
- Two sets of parallel bars spanning 53 feet and 27 feet, with mirrors lining three sides for visual education.
- A one-of-a-kind custom-made stair/ramp/curb assembly, designed to mimic what patients will encounter in their home and community. With 2 different height stair risers, and 2 different angled ramps.
- 116 FT indoor, straight, running track.
- Substantial open gym floor space for dynamic exercises and custom obstacle courses.
- Treadmill, bikes, steppers, strengthening equipment.
- Uneven outdoor terrain for practice navigating natural environments (like backyards, gardens, and soccer fields).
- Nintendo Wii gaming system for advanced dynamic balance training.
- Floorplan intentionally created with an open, continuous loop for gait training that doesn’t have to stop and start, but can build endurance and distance.
- Treatment tables of varying sizes for hands-on manual therapy.
- Private treatment rooms designed to calm your mind – for a peaceful, focused visit.
- A small onsite prosthetic and orthotic lab for our colleagues and partners to utilize, if needed, when we are co-treating our mutual patients during a PT appointment.
- No fictitious art! Our lobby and clinic have inspiring photos, and newspaper & magazine articles featuring only our very own patients. Come see what is possible!
- Multipurpose room used by Mission Gait to teach educational courses to university students and professionals throughout the year. As well as their space to film educational/training videos.
- Rock Steady Boxing gym for Parkinson’s patients.
the finished product
They say a picture is worth a thousand words . . . so I’ve included a ton of pictures to help tell the story of how we transformed a warehouse into the bright & airy, inviting, warm, energizing, impressive space it is today!
Want The Full Scoop? . . . keep reading!
So hi, I’m Carolyn Lawrence, a certified interior designer specializing in commercial/business interiors. But more importantly, I’m the wife of David Lawrence – physical therapist extraordinaire! No really – that’s not just my opinion. He and the rest of the team are well-respected, in-demand therapists, and they deserved a top-notch facility, executed on a budget …. and that was my job to deliver!
We moved into this “new-to-us” facility in January of 2018. This was after 11 years of adapting, expanding, and renovating our original location, until we couldn’t expand any more. We began the search for a much larger space that could not only house The Gait Center but also incorporate our non-profit Mission Gait Foundation, and Rock Steady Boxing Richmond. Our business philosophy played an important role in the selection of our new location. We always keep overhead costs down to allow our therapists to treat only one patient per hour (unlike the all too familiar assembly-line PT clinics). By keeping our costs down, our treatment of patients is not driven by trying to get the most patients in the door each hour. You have the undivided attention of your therapist for your full visit. This is of utmost importance to us, and is why we chose a stand-alone warehouse instead of brand spanking new medical building!
before Pics & beginning construction
We landed on a 9,600 SQ FT, 10 year old, 5-garage bay warehouse, formerly occupied by an electrical supply company. Why? In addition to the reasonable cost per SQ FT, this building also gave us large expansive space and 16 FT high ceilings. The building is conveniently located (but does sit out of sight) and boasts a very large, flat parking lot – perfect for our patients’ safe entry. We could immediately see the possibilities - with uninterrupted sightlines; space to layout lengthy parallel bars and running track; room to create spacious treatment areas and private rooms; and a surprisingly large number of existing windows!
The first step to any design project is programming. Collecting information about your client and the end user. Understanding their needs and desires… and the why behind them. Lucky for me, I had been working with my husband and the team for the previous 11 years. Wow! That’s eleven years of programming! Having that firsthand knowledge of how they treat patients and what is most important, the flow of patients in/out of the building at the top of each hour, understanding the nuances of running the front office, and previous expansion design projects for the practice, was invaluable to the design process.
Through strategic space planning, discussing layouts with the entire team, making thoughtful and intentional design decisions, we had our plan! Every decision was made with the patient in mind. We made sure that the space would function to bring patients their best outcomes.
Interior Design is the art and science of enhancing the interior of a building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the people using the space.
We achieved this by balancing the “warehouse feel” of exposed open rafters and hvac, with designated areas defined by color and furniture/equipment placement. From cold gray cinder block – to fresh white walls . . . the addition of a 12-pane glass garage door flooding the space with natural light . . . carefully selected flooring of warm wood toned LVT and tight level loop carpeting for safe footing . . . accent paint of soothing blues and greens, grounded with dark peacock and plum, all balanced with warm punches of complimentary russet orange.
We knew from our previous location that patients enjoy congregating in the lobby, whether meeting new people or bumping into friends (a common occurrence, as most of our patients come from personal referrals). So we knew we wanted to create a lobby that fosters this connection. Part of the healing and recovery process after surgery or illness includes identifying with others, sharing with others, finding inspiration in others, and giving back. Connecting patients with “mentors,” and connecting caregivers with one another, is as emotionally and mentally important as physical treatment. Our lobby is not only large enough to accommodate those coming & going at the change of each appointment hour – but we also have a coffee/tea bar available for those wishing to hang around and chat a bit longer! (Please see our COVID-19 page for our temporary lobby restrictions)
our team in action
This project was definitely a labor of love! We worked for 4 solid months (Sept – Dec) on nights and weekends to make this renovation happen, doing as much of the manual labor that we could to save costs. We couldn’t have done this without the help from our family, friends, and team. Check out our BEFORE/AFTER pictures for all of the action!
A HUGE shout out to our son Grayson who spent his college Christmas break helping us paint, assemble furniture, and move VERY heavy equipment! And a Super Special Thank You to my parents, “The Dynamic Duo” – Tom & Elaine Anderson, for traveling from MD to help us weekend after weekend, some weekdays/nights, and even New Year’s Eve!! Yes… I feel terrible admitting this, but we were still working in the building at 12 midnight to ring in 2018! Cheers!! . . . Our first day open was January 2, 2018!
This business is family owned & operated. When you step through our doors we want patients, guests, and our team to always feel the warmth of being part of The Gait Center Family!