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A Master Plan for Club Renovations


web2Whether you are an old tennis club that has converted to fitness over the past 30 years or a relatively new club built in the past 10 years, you are no doubt seeing changes in the landscape of fitness. Boutique group studios are popping up all over, functional training has firmly taken its place in fitness centers, and all the while your facilities look older. The question is, how do you tackle existing space challenges, while figuring out how to add the new programs your members are looking for? The simplest answer is through a master renovation plan.

A master renovation plan should accomplish the following:

An examination of the current state of your facility. You have to understand what needs to be fixed, increased, decreased or replaced. Otherwise you may be missing a large price-ticketed item in your planning.

A definitive understanding of needs, both programmatically and spatially. If growth is your goal, then determining which program elements are going to increase and which ones are going to be added are key. You also must understand which ones may go away.

Prioritization of improvement projects and their scopes. You want to make sure you and your architect are working together to determine the priorities. This will help you determine the implementation phasing of the master plan over five to 10 years.

Planning direction. Master plans should include schematic space plans that show what the long-term vision is for the club, new program elements and how it could all be phased.

Preliminary budgeting. No one makes a decision without knowing the price tag. Therefore, a master plan is not very useful if you don’t go the extra step and determine the estimated cost of each phase. If the phasing is stretched out over five to 10 years, be sure to incorporate inflation.

Why does all of this become important down the road? The tricky part of doing renovations and adding additions to facilities is that you can sometimes build things that later on get in the way of a future phase, and therefore require demolition of a newly constructed element. A master renovation plan should help you avoid this problem.

Remember, a master plan is a road map or a guide that helps you determine priorities for additions and renovations over a long period of time. That doesn’t mean that it will not change as you go. As you incorporate new phases, your club will be changing and so will your membership. When you get ready to start the next phase you will want to take this new information and check it against your assumptions during the initial master planning process. If it is close, then you keep moving forward. If it is different, then you may want to adjust your direction.

This is all part of a good planning process and hopefully will lead to the growth of your facility.


Bryan Dunkelberger is a principal for S3 Design and has designed health clubs for over 15 years. His firm specializes in designing clubs that maximize the member’s experience.


Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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