When members walk into the Houstonian Fitness Center’s locker room, it’s hard not to be impressed. Besides the luxurious and beautiful amenities, as soon as members step through the door, a locker room employee greets them. “Since we have implemented the idea of the locker room staff greeting, and welcoming the members as they walk inside the locker room, we have noticed that it makes them feel appreciated and is helping to establish lasting and meaningful relationships,” said Teddy Teame, the locker room manager at the Houstonian.
“In the locker room it is all about relationships,” continued Teame. “We make it a priority to know as many members as possible so that we can establish a real connection instead of the usual, ‘good morning, good evening sir or madam.’”
In order to ensure that your club is creating a welcoming locker room environment for members, we interviewed clubs with locker rooms that “WOW,” to discover how they upkeep, update and implement new ideas that continually impress members.
“The locker rooms are a place where constant ideas or suggestions flow uninterrupted,” said Teame. “The challenge is to see how many of these ideas are practical and can be implemented without incurring any unplanned expenses.”
In order to ensure the Houstonian’s locker rooms are always impressive to its members, Teame has utilized comment cards and face-to-face meetings with members in order to receive feedback. “It gives me the opportunity to better understand their real needs and the chance to ‘pick their brains’ on what we can do to meet, or possibly exceed, their expectations.”
By picking the brains of both staff and members, and following through on those suggestions, the Houstonian proves that the opinions of its team, and those of its customers, matter. However, implementing new ideas isn’t the only focus — the upkeep of existing amenities also has been key. According to Teame, the Houstonian has specific protocol in place for restocking and refilling products, and with each shift, staff members must check each station to ensure that all items are readily available — such as shampoos, conditioners and soaps. “Our locker room staff is trained to constantly monitor the upkeep of all facilities, while providing a personalized service to each and every member,” explained Teame.
Sometimes, even small changes can make an impact. “Oftentimes, small things such as moving a bench or a cabinet make a huge difference in terms of traffic flow and safety, resulting in a visible and lasting improvement that members feel and appreciate,” said Teame.
At the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex, members who may have been expecting a cold, tiled floor when taking a shower were pleasantly surprised to find that the floor was warm. Chelsea Piers recently installed heated, stone flooring from Stone Source throughout its locker rooms. By implementing unique touches such as heated flooring, Chelsea Piers has continually created a locker room atmosphere that “WOWs” its members. “We’re in New York, so if anything is out of place, we hear about it immediately,” said Greta Wagner, the general manager and senior vice president of Chelsea Piers. “New Yorkers tend to be vocal.”
In order to make sure members don’t have much to complain about, Wagner asks her staff to submit ideas monthly to review. “We try and implement at least one idea every month,” she said. “This makes our associates take ownership in everything they do and keeps them focused on making our members happy. All of our associates do a great job communicating so problems are fixed on the spot.”
Feedback can be the most important aspect in ensuring your members are happy. “We are always asking for feedback, and the attendants inform their supervisors if someone has requested something we don’t offer,” said Wagner. The quicker you respond to requests and complaints, the better atmosphere your locker room will have.
Healthzone in Tulsa, Okla. recently underwent a major renovation to impress its members. Before remodeling, Healthzone hadn’t updated its locker rooms for 15 years. “We needed some fresh looks,” said Graydon Yohe, the director of Healthzone.
In order to revitalize the locker rooms, Yohe hired Fabiano Designs to install the latest locker room technologies. As a result, Yohe took a previously bland locker room, and completely transformed it. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Yohe.
According to Rudy Fabiano, the architect and creator of Fabiano Designs, clubs should make renovations and updates on a regular basis. “When the design or decor is no longer appropriate, or the materials start to deteriorate — like the chipping of the Formica, or worn lockers,” action must be taken, said Fabiano.
Due to the moist atmosphere in locker rooms, wear and tear is common. “Many times the environment conditions warrant upgrades due to the mechanical age and the current system can no longer keep up with the demand. Also, programming changes — there is a big push for more private space and larger grooming areas. [With Healthzone] we were able to create much more space and a larger private shower, appropriately spaced by eliminating an under-utilized whirlpool.”
Often, renovations can fix issues that have been plaguing the club for months, or even years. Fabiano installed digital lockers to replace the traditional lock-and-key style, which allayed the complaints of Healthzone members that didn’t like that system. “No matter how good our systems were, you always had to clump members together,” said Yohe. “Anytime a member lost a key, that locker became insecure and replacing keys became expensive. With the digital lockers, you can just reprogram.”
Although implementing new ideas and updating your locker rooms is necessary, another important thing to remember is that your locker rooms must also be clean. “Every inch, from the ceiling to the floor, needs to be clean,” said Wagner.
“Always walk the locker room with the eyes of a member or a guest,” said Teame. “It is very easy to get complacent and miss the small details that can spoil the whole locker room experience.”
By getting member and staff feedback, making updates and keeping the locker rooms clean, clubs can create an atmosphere that blows the socks of its members. When was the last time you made a change — big, or small — in your locker rooms? Implement new ideas to see what results you receive. Before you know it, your club could join the list of clubs with locker rooms that WOW!
By Rachel Zabonick