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‘Smart’ Club Design

smart design

In a world of advancing technologies and experts for everything, smart design still centers on thoughtful problem solving. If you want your club design to work for you rather than against you, then start with being as smart as you can about what you want, what you do well and what you want to deliver. Designers are at no loss for ideas, but the true test of smart club design starts with the client knowing what their strengths are and what is important for them to attract and retain memberships. Being able to convey that to your design team gives them parameters and goals to work within. Together you can find solutions that achieve those goals while also pushing boundaries.

Start with what you do well — if you have a great personal training system, challenge your design team to find a way to showcase it and generate more buzz. If you feel you deliver a higher end experience, encourage your design team to look at other high-end establishments like hotels or restaurants for design inspiration.

Once you’ve captured what you do well, then move on to understanding what you don’t do so well. For example, if you have trouble getting through your locker rooms with cleaning crews throughout the day, then work towards a locker room design that is laid out more efficiently. A simple layout with easily cleanable materials might be the answer to getting your staff through quickly with less disruption to your members. At a minimum, your club’s design should not hinder your staff from doing their job — at best, it should make it easier.

Last, tackle what you want to do that you aren’t doing now. Be careful not to bite off too much in this area — add in a couple things at a time so you can master and deliver them at a high level for your members. An example is the integration of technology and electronic messaging. Start with something you can manage, keeping in mind that adding something like a large video capability in a cycling studio requires someone to track down high-resolution video content, otherwise the 4K TV doesn’t look clear. This integration may also mean your IT person is now doing a lot more than simply hooking up your computers.

Smart design is truly a reflection of your operations and facilities team, combined with your architectural and engineering team, working together to figure out all the above. It should be a back and forth process with you bringing what you do best to the table, the design team taking that and developing a design that accentuates it, as well as helping you do the things you struggle with better.


Bryan Dunkelberger is a principal for S3 Design and has designed health clubs for over 20 years. His firm specializes in designing clubs that maximize the member’s experience. For more information email bdunkelberger@s3design-inc.com; call 781-848-8804; or visit www.s3design-inc.com.


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