Have you ever walked into a place and instantly felt comfortable — or uncomfortable? You may not consciously be aware of it, but your eyes are taking in the environment, and it is having an effect on your emotions. One of the main factors of an environment involves color, and studies show that the use of color can have a significant effect on emotions.

The retail, hospitality and restaurant industries work with color extensively. When McDonald's sales declined, a major part of its turnaround included introducing new, exciting interiors instead of the red, white and yellow colors they had used for so long. Other chains, such as Starbucks and Panera Bread, use color as a key component of their marketing personality.

So have you figured out the décor personality of your club? You should examine this since a club's décor is a powerful sales tool. One of the main things clubs sell is energy. Exercise is promoted as fun and exciting, but most people don't believe that. So how can a club owner make people feel like they are in a fun and exciting environment? By choosing colors in your décor that give off a fun and exciting vibe. A colorful and exciting interior can also help turn potential members into actual members by putting them in the right mood to buy. Just remember that colorful can mean different things to different people. The different shades of one color, such as yellow (a good energy color), can easily go from highly desirable to overwhelming.

People in the design industry know that the most cost-effective way to achieve the most significant impact with an environment is the creative use of color. The largest statement of color can be made with paint — an inexpensive décor expression. A variety of paint colors, interacting with a variety of different colored finishes, can create an inspiring environment.

Color is such an important aspect of business that there is actually a color institute that studies colors for a wide variety of commercial industries. For example, the group found that white recently overtook silver as the most popular car color in the world.

Colors are known to give off energy. For example, black has always been known as a power color, but it can make a space seem uninspiring and smaller when used to paint ceilings, for example. If you ever wondered about the overwhelming impact of color, imagine Darth Vader dressed in a red costume, a yellow cape and an orange helmet. He wouldn't have nearly the same imposing presence in these colors as he has in black.

What colors work well with clubs? Not the same colors that worked 10 years ago. The trend during the last three to four years (and probably for a number of years to come) has been earth tones — tans, yellows, rust, gold, copper, browns and greens. Color research has indicated that because the concept of “going green” has gained in popularity, the color green will find its way more and more into the décor of different industries, including clubs. What can complicate color choices is that certain colors go well with some colors but not with others.

Colors that are “in” today will work well in most clubs if used properly, but that does not mean other variations cannot work, too. However, following current color trends potentially can have the greatest impact on creating an environment that will be well received by the broadest market segment.

Whatever colors a club owner decides upon, their creative use can make a substantial difference in the marketability of a club. Just don't confuse your personal tastes with what's best for the club. Individual tastes need to stay in your home.

Bruce Carter is the president of Optimal Fitness Design Systems International, a club design firm that has created about $420 million worth of clubs in 45 states and 26 countries.