Change Your Locker Room Story to Enhance Your Health Club

If well-conceived, these spaces can enhance member satisfaction and clearly differentiate your brand. These gyms in Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Belgium are prime examples of that.

Locker rooms. They can seem ordinary, cold, colorless, and utilitarian—something that your members tend to ignore or simply take for granted, because they’re anxious to get back to the office, or head for home after wrapping up an intense workout.

It’s precious square footage in your club that doesn’t seem to pay off.

Or is it?

It’s a different story if a locker room is designed with imagination, taste, intelligence, and a club’s business model in mind; if it’s executed so well that members are attracted to it, and feel like showering or otherwise refreshing themselves; and if it’s a place where they can relax and linger for a while, taking satisfaction in what they’ve just accomplished in the studio or on the fitness floor.

Every locker room has features and appointments in common—lockers, benches, sinks, lavatories, showers, and the like—and the good ones are comfortable, safe, and impeccably clean. But the very best boast a distinctive look, a unique feel, that reflects the club’s mission, its market segment, and, sometimes, the culture of the country where it’s located.

In short, these important spaces can make a bold statement and help differentiate a club, while enhancing the member experience.

Featured here are three examples, located in three different countries—Saudi Arabia, Belgium, and Spain—that may inspire you to take a fresh look at your own locker room.

Golds’ Gym | Abha, Saudi Arabia

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The basics: A men’s-only club, which spans 29,000 square feet, opened in April of this year. Its 1,500 members pay dues of $1,000 per year. Along with its women-only counterpart nearby, this Gold’s Gym offers convenient access, and a solution for entire families.

The offer: Functional training, personal training, small-group training, cardio, and the sort of free-weight area that’s synonymous with Gold’s Gym. The two GGX studios encourage social interaction among members, and the swimming pool and lounges have a luxurious, high-end feel.

The locker rooms: “With design and comfort as a cornerstone, these spaces enhance the image and value of the Gold’s Gym brand,” says Director of Business Development Raouf Hegazy.

“Created in cooperation with Fit Interiors, based in Longiano, Italy, the locker rooms help to encourage member loyalty, as they experience and savor the value, uniqueness, and exclusivity of this superior space.” In the entrance to the locker area, there’s a lounge for reading magazines or watching TV, either before or after a workout.

In the main space, the use of leather seating, different finishes, and models of lockers, as well as convenient safe deposit lockers, exude quality, he explains.

“The idea was to create a new concept—a relaxing area, designed to redefine the old concept of the locker room, when it was just considered a changing room, by introducing a lounge with natural leather sofas and a nice, soft pendant light.”

Natural wood finishes, contrasting with the use of concrete for lockers and cabinets, align with the industrial-design style of the rest of the gym. Similar touches embellish the floor finishes. At the same time, the red and yellow utilized in the benches creates a unique, energetic atmosphere, says Hegazy.

“In our lockers rooms, as well as in the other areas of the club, you know immediately where you are— you’re in a Gold’s Gym, but in a very special one. The freshness and elegance evoke a sense of relaxation, comfort, and even joy that encourages members to return again and again.

“It’s not a single feature, but the entire design approach that makes us different from our competitors. Our members seem to love absolutely everything about this space.”

L’Usine Club | Brussels, Belgium

The basics: A premium 26,000-square-foot club that opened in 2016. There are two sister facilities in fashionable sections of Paris and another upscale one in Geneva. Of the 7,000 members, who pay about $2,078 a year to work out at L’Usine, 1,600 members use the Brussels location.

The offer: A full range of cardio and strength training, one-on-one coaching, mind-body, and group exercise activities, with an emphasis on relaxation afterward. There are also saunas, hammams (Turkish baths), and a “cloakroom” that provides a “bubble” of rest with ergonomic seats, essential oils, and soft lights.

The locker rooms: These important spaces perpetuate and enhance the theme of relaxation, and reflect the essence of this high-end luxury brand. “Overall, I tried to create a livable and comfortable place with plenty of space and a lounge-type atmosphere,” says architect Alain Eidel.

The locker rooms are tidy, and employ neutral hues that are easy on the eyes, with some bright, energetic touches, and soft lighting.

The club’s owners, Patrick Joly and Patrick Rizzo, chose the color schemes themselves. “Other than that, Joly empowered me completely with the redesign of the locker rooms. In the women’s, we installed a changing room, and a place with mirrors and independent chairs. In the men’s, there’s a hairstyling corner with high chairs and individual hair dryers,” says Rizzo.

Another important factor is the quality of the materials employed, Eidel points out.

“They’re solid, and will stand up to long-term use. The locker doors have a special coating and security glass, which makes them more durable than similar furniture. And the size of the lockers is tailored to the comfort of the members.”

And the response?

“At first, it was a shock for existing members,” Eidel says. “As you know, old habits die hard! They weren’t used to using the locker rooms. Instead, they’d shower at home. The new members have made lots of positive comments because they never thought they’d find such a level of comfort, and lockers of this quality, in a Brussels health club.

“With this change in the locker rooms, our members’ habits and expectations have changed as well.”

Boutique Gym by Martin Giacchetta | Madrid, Spain

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The basics: An 11,000-square-foot studio founded in 2014 in the center of Madrid by personal trainer Martin Giacchetta and businessman Carlos Matco. The concept combines the best tools and training systems with state-of-the-art nutrition and beauty treatments. Some 620 members pay dues of about $118 per month.

The offer: While the average member is between 35 and 50 years old, the club serves individuals of all ages. There are activities for children, as well as seniors. Services include cardio and strength training, personal training, functional training, boxing and kickboxing, dance classes, a running club, a kids’ boutique, a long list of group exercise classes, spa services, and a café.

The locker room: The club’s programs and services are designed to stimulate all of the senses, and to help people feel good inside and out. The décor throughout the club follows suit.

Billing itself as “the coolest club in Madrid” and “a haven of peace,” the club’s interior is simultaneously energizing and relaxing. Rough wooden surfaces are combined with primary colors—red and orange, in particular—which contrast with the smooth, sleek lines of Technogym equipment and the industrial metal stairwells. This mix of colors and surfaces gives Boutique Gym a one-of-a-kind feel, while enhancing the brand, and differentiating it from other clubs in Madrid.

The same approach influences the men’s and women’s locker rooms, which were recently remodeled. Here, sleek glass lockers and black metal benches contrast with red lighting and smooth, neutral tile floors.

“Our locker rooms are designed to make people feel at home—we provide them with the space and amenities they need and want, in a modern and unique space. We’re also very meticulous about keeping the gym and the locker rooms extremely clean.

“Even during peak hours, the lighting and amenities make them feel comfortable. We also chose materials that are durable and easy to clean.

“The architect we worked with wanted to create a traditional locker room, but we had something very different in mind,” says Giacchetta. “Our members have noticed the difference, and are clearly grateful for the change.”

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Patricia Amend

Patricia Amend is a contributor to Club Business International.