Learn how club design can be a difference maker, at convention educational session
Wed, February 27, 2013 at 16:25
Brad Spiegel in Aaron Moore, Bruce Carter, IHRSA 2013, IHRSA Live, Optimal Design, VIDA Fitness, design

There are many thoughts and considerations when a fitness club decides it is time to make aesthetic changes. And it is more than paint color on the walls, finishes in the bathroom, or the size of a mirror in the weight room. 

But that isn’t to say they aren’t all equal. In some ways, every last detail could be the difference between a membership and a family going to the gym across town. 

Bruce Carter, an industry veteran of 40 years and president of Optimal Design Systems in Weston, Fla., will go in depth on the subject during his IHRSA 32nd Annual International Convention & Trade Show educational session. The Wave of the Future: Trends in Club Design, is Thursday, March 21, at 1:30 p.m. 

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He will touch on subjects like design trends, what works and doesn’t work, how to create upscale and inspiring designs without breaking the bank, and how to create a relaxing atmosphere. 

“We are seeing more emphasis on design, like any other industry,” Carter said. “The health industry has been behind curve. (In the past) we have always thought about the workout. Now we are thinking about the psychology of the environment. How do we get people to come in and do what they do not want to do?  

“We are working to present more inviting spaces. It is a direction the leading clubs are doing more and more."

Back in the 1980s and 1990s most gyms had the industrial look that is now very popular in condos in metropolitan cities. Duct work, beams, large fans were all the rage. While that is still appealing, what isn’t is having the all the equipment in the room hit you in the face as soon as you walk in like in past decades. Also important is having a place - away from the weights, cardio equipment and group exercise room – to relax.  

Members and prospective members alike prefer not to be at the gym, or they may be very intimidated. Presenting soothing and calming areas can do wonders for putting people at ease. 

Aaron Moore is the regional manager for the five VIDA Fitness & Aura Spa locations in Washington, D.C. While he hasn’t decided whether he will be attending Carter’s session, he knows a few things about design. VIDA works on a club every three years, from major renovation or just a new paint job. 

“One thing we like to do is to create separate zones and decreasing sight lines. We feel this increases the level of comfort,” he said.  

He explained that in a club VIDA took over a few years ago you could see from one end of the building to the other. They erected walls that divided the area into zones, just as VIDA prefers, and broke up the end-to-end view. 

Putting up walls, where many clubs prefer a totally open concept, is not surprising with VIDA. 

“We use our design to get ‘wow’ factor,” Moore added. "We try to achieve design elements you don’t typically see in a gym.” 

Belonging to a club where you are comfortable in turn keeps them there longer. This is a trend that is seen more and more. That makes clubs’ social activities – wine tastings, dances, kids events, etc. – more popular and, in turn, helps membership numbers and retention rates. 

Moore suggested that anyone considering changes in their facility should put a session like this on their list. 

“There are a lot moving parts, a lot people involved, when you do renovations,” Moore said. “Attending a (session) like this can help you understand the process, maybe even save money. If you have a better idea of what want, a better understand of prices, you can decrease the back and forth.” 

He suggested those even considering only minor alterations to take in Carter’s talk. 

“Some folks, when they start to think about renovations, they start out too big. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Paint can go a long way.” 

Carter said some of the trends in minor changes can be softer lighting, less mirrors and changing finishes in the locker room. 

“The trend now is we are presenting the idea of exercise in a more beautiful and inspiring environments. We sell a product that people hate and we need to present an environment people love,” Carter said.

Article originally appeared on IHRSA (http://www.ihrsa.org/).
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