Club Insider

How to Design A Club to Be Less Intimidating

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Bruce CarterBruce Carter

Anyone associated with the health and fitness club industry is quite comfortable in a club environment. Familiar surroundings and like-minded people make up this tremendous industry. Yet, many do not feel this comfort level, and therefore, try to avoid clubs. Yes, the need is there, and maybe even the desire, but the club experience does not "speak" to the majority of individuals.

In the August 2019 issue of CBI Magazine, an article entitled, Fitness Fears Are Quantified by a New Study, showed a survey recently conducted with 2,000 respondents. 50% showed a fear of working out in front of others, and a third had anxiety about getting in shape. Clearly, clubs have a problem that can turn into an opportunity, make a club a more user-friendly and less intimidating experience and communicate this to the marketplace.

The important first step in designing a club to be less intimidating is to acknowledge the above fact as a serious variable when designing or renovating a club. Most club people probably can't "feel" the actual discomfort, and yes, the fear that someone out of shape feels when in a club. Then, add people finding themselves in a variety of awkward positions, sweating and not looking good in exercise clothing, and this is one of the major stumbling blocks the club industry has in attracting and keeping more members. So, taking this key design factor seriously can better direct a successful "club of the future" design. Here are some key design variables to make a club less intimidating.

So much of such a design has to do with achieving a balance. This is a balance between the need for excitement, successful programing, operational control, effective physical conditioning and cost and the need to make sure that members (especially, deconditioned members) feel as comfortable as possible.

Layout is the positioning of spaces and how they relate to other spaces. When done properly, this creates the excitement and successful day-to-day functioning of a club. When entering a club, previous design techniques were to overwhelm people with the amount of equipment a club offered and having rows of cardio front and center make for an impressive image. Current design trends have people entering a club in a more controlled and divided off environment/lobby with possible views of equipment or exercise areas but much less so. Simply, a more inviting lobby projects a less intimidating club.

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