One key to a well-executed building design is in the identification and anticipation of what trends exist and what trends are to come. Fitness facility owners must be aware of the following trends and how they affect fitness facility design if they want a well-designed club:
Good design is good business. The reliance on design as a tool for success continues to grow. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ legacy is how he used design to seduce people with a colorful array of oddly shaped computers when everyone had boring black boxes. People were enticed by the feel of the all-white iPod with its soft and sexy rounded edges. From the beautifully easy functions of the iPhone to the brilliance of the iPad, Apple’s success has been about the power of design as a means to our hearts and wallets. Apple’s stores—interestingly the only company computer stores left in the world—echoed this design strategy. Good design is not just about the look but also the flow, function, presentation and sexiness of a product.
Target stores have shown that the consumers seeking bargains will be loyal to a store that can provide a better shopping experience. Walgreens is embarking on a design initiative to create a better user experience than the competition. Its new stores are beautifully lit, have clear paths, wide aisles, attractive colors and are easy to navigate. Walgreens’ research indicated that a well-designed store gains market share, sells more items and makes more money.
Clubs are no different. Good design sells. By creating a sense of value and delivering on quality, clubs will be rewarded.
Big and small. Clubs are getting bigger and smaller. Traditionally, the 25,000-square-foot club was the sweet spot to deliver adequate services and be competitive. However, the number of mid-sized clubs being built is shrinking because current economies of scale make it difficult for some to be profitable.
Now, big full-service clubs with diverse programming and amenities appealing to a wide range of consumers are increasing in number. These community-based centers, typically 40,000 square feet and larger, offer multiple group exercise rooms, programming, functional training, abundant fitness and lavish locker rooms. More than half of the clubs offer family and aquatic programming. The growth of these large clubs has been made possible partially by large vacant tenant spaces on which landlords have offered attractive deals to land an anchor tenant. These clubs can dominate a marketplace due to the range of offerings and wide demographic appeal.
On the other end of the spectrum is a boom of small clubs—the less-than 10,000-square-foot boutique studios—that are filling smaller neighborhood markets. These studios—which include functional training, cycle-only, martial arts and yoga-only—are filling niches by offering direct personal attention and a specialized path to fitness.
Franchises also are adding to small club growth. Companies such as Fitness 24, Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness that are typically less than 5,000 square feet are proving to be successful.
Saving money every month through energy efficiency. Even as this economy has affected our commitment to green design for the environment’s sake, real savings can occur from well-designed systems. Designing energy-efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems can mean thousands of dollars per year in savings. For new clubs, government regulations and improvements in standard technology will make these savings almost automatic. (For renovations and retrofits, find a resource database of available funding, rebates and tax credits to convert to green technology on a state-by-state basis at www.dsireusa.org.)
Social media and social networking. The effect of social media on our lives and on your business is hard to ignore. Members will tweet, post and tumble their likes and dislikes freely. Connecting members’ experiences in your club with the information they share in the media world is critical. Understanding that your members have a relationship with the building, your staff and other members is important. Using design to articulate and enhance those relationships will showcase your commitment to the members.
That is a trend that will never go out of style.
Rudy Fabiano, a registered architect and interior designer, is president of Fabiano Designs, an architectural firm for fitness, wellness, sports and recreation centers and spas that has produced more than 400 projects in 21 years.