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Sleek, Plush, Warm, Welcoming — The best locker rooms lure members to relax and linger.
When a member signs on the dotted line of your club’s membership agreement, they’re making a vote of sorts. A vote that states they’re on board with your club’s vision. Maybe your vision has a functional training focus. Maybe you boast a high-end, country club atmosphere. Regardless of what your vision is, it should translate into your locker rooms. Consistency is key, and a locker room aligned with your club’s brand will solidify a member’s visit into a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience.
At The Bay Club Company (formerly Western Athletic Clubs) in California, its vision includes a “brand promise” to provide members with an everyday, resort-feel — locker rooms included. “The Bay Club is an everyday resort — a comfortable, amenity-rich backdrop where you can experience being your happiest self,” said Edgar Elliott, the VP of construction and facilities for The Bay Club Company. “With diligent staff tasked with making sure our locker rooms are consistently cleaned and stocked, we provide an experience that meets the expectations of our members.”
To emulate a resort experience, The Bay Club Company’s locker rooms feature high ceilings, open spaces, soft lighting and large lockers. In addition, members can enjoy large, flat-screen televisions, spacious saunas and steam rooms, whirlpools, complimentary toiletries, hair dryers and fresh towels.
“We know that most all of our members visit the locker rooms at least once, if not twice, on every visit,” continued Elliott. “So why not make them as luxurious as the rest of the club?”
At Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Denver, Colo., luxury was part of the club’s vision for its locker rooms. However, a social component was also an important factor. “We wanted to create a luxurious environment with all the amenities a member would need and want to get ready after a workout,” said Paula Neubert, the president and general manager of Greenwood. “In addition, we wanted a social environment where members could meet one another, interface and share stories and information.”
To encourage this social environment, Greenwood installed key components that have helped facilitate this goal. “Part of it is our culture at Greenwood, but we wanted to enhance that culture by building a main vanity area where everyone goes to get ready after showering,” explained Neubert. “The vanity area in the women’s locker room can have up to 12 people getting ready together, and the men’s could have as many as seven getting ready together. In addition, we built a new lounge in the men’s locker room with a big screen TV, and comfortable sitting chairs so gentlemen can enjoy sharing stories and conversing while getting ready.”
To continually exude luxury, Greenwood’s locker rooms are held to high design and cleanliness standards. “Cleanliness is the most important part of the locker room and we employ our own housekeeping and night shift staff to keep our locker rooms spotless throughout the day,” said Neubert. “We improve all areas of the club and the locker rooms require the most maintenance and attention. We replace carpet, tile and paint often.”
MINT, with two locations in Washington, D.C., strives to provide “a well-rounded fitness experience within a luxurious, community-focused environment,” according to co-owner Melissa John. Its locker rooms are no exception. “You want your locker rooms to be clean, but you also want them to be warm and comfortable,” said John. “Similar to the comforts you’d find in your own home.”
To provide this type of comforting atmosphere, MINT’s locker rooms boast soft, spa-like colors, organic products, digital locks (so members don’t have to bring their own) and private changing rooms with seats and hooks for hanging clothes. “Professionals going straight to work and needing to transition from workout gear to suit can leave feeling relaxed and polished after using the changing rooms,” said John.
According to John, allowing members to make a comfortable transition from workout to exit is a key focus. “We want to encourage them to linger and take their time,” she said. Amenities such as saunas, steam rooms, a comfortable place to sit down, a comfortable temperature and toiletries are conducive to this effort. “The basic utility needs need to be met, but the experience as a whole needs to be taken into account as well.”
For Elliott, having locker rooms that truly represent your club’s vision is a no-brainer. “Our locker rooms are the areas of highest member [traffic], because diverse as our members’ athletic and fitness interests are, virtually all of them use our locker rooms on a daily basis,” said Elliott. “Because of this, our locker rooms bear an especially high responsibility of creating and sustaining a strong brand impression. Bottom line, no matter how high the usage burden and how high the maintenance mandate, they must look great all the time.”
By Rachel Zabonick