Architects are critical to the success of health clubs, believe it or not. The design of your club carries a lot of weight — pleasing aesthetics, effective equipment layouts, and efficient storage spaces are all elements that make the best health clubs what they are.
By that logic, choosing the right architect becomes one of the most critical decisions you can make as an owner. There are plenty of factors to consider: should you hire local or a specialist? How long do you want the project to last? How much creative freedom should the designer have?
All of these questions should lead you to the design you want for your health club, and the architect best suited to deliver on that vision.
In the December issue, Club Solutions touched on this topic in the feature story “Eye for Design.” Here, we provide additional insight from Dave Dos Santos, the CEO of Best Fitness, about how to choose an architect and the importance of that decision.
CS: Could you tell me how you were introduced to S3 Design and why you decided to partner with them on some of your projects?
DS: I think what happens when you’re doing a project is you let the project get ahead of you, and you let the architect just go. And what S3 tries to do is keep you in on it every step of the way, meaning they understand the business, so they know all the things I would normally have to explain to an architect that’s not familiar with fitness. I don’t have to worry about it with S3 — that’s first and foremost.
Second, they ask your opinion about all these different things every step of the way, which makes it much easier for me to stop things or progress things quicker — it’s just an easier process.
CS: Do you think maybe some club operators and owners can underestimate the importance of there being good architectural design and layout in their fitness centers?
DS: Yeah, I think a lot of owners got caught up on design more than function. You can make anything look good, but it has to be functional.
CS: In addition to good customer service and having a good understanding of fitness, is there anything else that club owners and operators should look for in an architectural partner?
DS: Really, having an understanding of fitness is the most important thing. You have to pick a company that understands the industry. You have to, because it’s too hard to get people who won’t make mistakes.
Also, you’re better off having somebody who has a lot of experience. I’ve found there are a lot more errors when you don’t have somebody who has an experienced background.
CS: Are there any learning lessons on projects that you could share, that you think other club operators would benefit from knowing?
DS: You need somebody who understands the flow of a gym. If that person designing or in charge of the project doesn’t understand gym flow or know how your processes or business work, they have no right designing or helping the architect’s design.
Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of communication on a project — taking it room by room first, and then taking it as a whole. You should look at each room, each component separately, and then come together to get the big picture.