Club Industry: Health Club Operators Must Put the Glamour in Sweat

Club Industry: Health Club Operators Must Put the Glamour in Sweat

When we think of design, the usual considerations are about the colors, materials and special features that make a club look great. However, design involves higher objectives. It can influence and motivate members to join and establish that habit of fitness so important to keeping members engaged.

Establishing that deeper connection through design requires tapping into an elusive and powerful element: glamour. In the fashion, furniture, retail, and hotel and resort industries, the idea of using glamour to sell people goods and influence their desires is common. Glamour, although elusive, is a powerful and seductive cultural force. In the evocative new book “Power of Glamour,” author Virginia Postel explains how glamour motivates people and feeds their imagination of a life beyond what they currently have. The power of seduction and transformation are widely used in advertising to engage people because they tap into a real emotion that people feel and need—the design within to be better.

Webster’s defines glamour as “a magic spell, an exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness; an alluring or fascinating attraction.” How many club operators can say any of these elements reside in their clubs? Where better to find our perfect selves, both mentally and physically, than in a gym? As we look for inspiration to guide the next evolution of club design, one that can encourage and engage new members, the use of glamour as an element of seduction in health club design is a perfect fit.

To capture that initial spark, we need to design a window that captures the imagination of our prospects and creates a canvas where members can visualize how good their life can be by using our clubs. To engage our members, we must grab their attention with a spark, a hint or a visual. However, like fashion, if the clothes are too gaudy, the jewelry is too much and the lipstick is too red, they miss the glamour mark. Everything has to be just right with enough balance of a strong presence and a quiet confidence. It must be a blank canvas to allow members’ projections of themselves to be captured.

Retail design mastered this a long time ago. For instance, the primary color in retail is white, a color that is noticeably missing in many clubs designed today. Obviously, white is not an easy color to maintain. But in the world of glamour, someone else cleans or repaints that wall. As club owners try to spend less money to get a great look, they often use a collage of bold colors and shapes to invigorate prospects into joining or to match the energy of exercise as an evolution of the original heart beatstripe on the wall. Many low-cost fitness chains follow this formula with colors so bold they clobber you over the head with intensity. Unfortunately, this design idea is not glamorous. And while I can’t argue with the success of the clubs with many colors, some relief from that busyness will add longevity to their design. Getting in-your-face intensity every day can get old, like a drill sergeant screaming at you to work out. Glamour requires more subtleness than that. We need elegance or at least the perception of it as we see when people walk the red carpet, nicely dressed with a hint of jewelry. Just enough imagery creates desire with the dreaminess to imagine you in that place.

In designing our latest crop of clubs, we have been trying to add white as a color, a positive rather than a negative. White should stand out like a big movie screen. In our higher-end clubs, color comes from materials only while the support spaces are neutral. We accent the texture of wood flooring, interesting wall covering or graphics, tile and stone as materials that illicit touch. When someone touches a product, a deeper connection is made. And since no one really likes to touch paint, it is these products that define our space; they are the primary colors and means to draw people in. This strategy relays a sense of richness and refinement that is tactile but also visual. To capture a person’s eye, we need jewelry that can come from light fixtures, mosaic tiles that capture the light, or brightly tinted glass walls to tie the whole experience together.

Low-budget club operators often feel the need to cater to brand colors and standards while spending little on design. Instead of overpowering people with these colors, the design should offer relief from the intensity. Strong colors typically should not meet. Instead, each should be presented separately and as more than just paint. Instead, they should be a special and distinctive layer of color. The relief comes in the form of the white or light colors as a natural break, making it a clean, pure and simple presentation.

Ultimately, clubs should be designed for seduction. In our palaces, we can help dreams come true for a healthier more energetic member. What drives the business is the emotional connection people get when working out, as well as the feeling they get during and after the workout. Great design projects that emotion on prospects, allowing them to imagine how good and powerful they will feel sweating inside your walls. Providing an environment that allows prospects and members to feel the glamour of sweat can be a powerful tool for your business success.