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Designing Locker Rooms that ‘Wow’

locker rooms

Regardless of all the great staff members, equipment and classes you put in place to attract members, you could be losing the member experience battle in a place you never expected: your locker rooms. The locker room is arguably the most critical battleground for member experience, and is a direct reflection of the attention your club pays to its facilities and operations.

“There is no doubt that a member’s locker room experience is integral to overall member satisfaction,” said Brad Wilkins, the president of Cooper Health and Fitness in Dallas, Texas. “We’ve evaluated every single detail to ensure our members have a comfortable and purposeful experience in the locker rooms, expressing our appreciation for the time and investment they spend at the club.”

Taking your member experience to the next level should involve an honest evaluation of your locker rooms. If your locker rooms look and smell like they’re inhabited by a high school football team, some serious changes might be in order.

But even if the state of your locker rooms isn’t that bad, they still might benefit from some extra amenities or cutting-edge design changes. Implementing something new can provide that “wow” factor and take your member experience to new heights.

Cooper Fitness Center

“Design aspects can be a key component of [a member’s] emotional connection to the club, including architecture, lighting and interior design,” said Wilkins. “However, in addition to a beautiful and functional retreat, it is just as important to provide a safe environment that is well-maintained and clean.”

Both design and good maintenance are critical to creating locker rooms that “wow” members. With this in mind, Cooper Fitness Center focuses on three specific areas of its operations:

  • The custom design of the locker rooms.
  • The employees in the locker rooms.
  • The selection of products and amenities in the locker rooms.

When designing the Cooper Fitness Center locker rooms, the idea was to go as high-end as possible. “Our goal was to create a high-end look, feel and experience similar to a five-star hotel,” said Wilkins. “We wanted architectural design elements in both wet and dry areas, high-quality interior finishes, high-quality lighting appropriate for each area, and custom-made furniture in lounge, vanity and changing bay areas.”

A comfortable lounge area in Cooper’s locker rooms.

But the cutting-edge design alone wasn’t enough — the space itself had to be staffed with the right people. “We staff our locker rooms with porters during all business hours,” said Wilkins. “And each individual locker room is assigned an attendant who ensures everything is meeting members’ expectations.”

The amenities — Cooper Fitness Center’s third focus — completed the equation. Paired with cutting-edge design and staff members dedicated to delivering a great experience, excellent amenities have helped the club create a true member refuge in its locker rooms.

“The amenities include everything: the plush towels, salon-grade hair dryers, straighteners and curling irons, chilled towels, fruit-infused chilled water, and our own product line of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion,” said Wilkins. “Large private showers include a separate shower entry area with seating and towel hooks. Each shower offers a deluxe rain shower head and our own product line, so members don’t need to bring a thing.”

Along with the amenities above, Cooper Fitness Center offers several amenities and features in its men’s and women’s locker rooms, including whirlpools, steam rooms, dry saunas, multiple lounge areas, towel service, bathing suit dryers, adjustable fans and handheld mirrors. 

No member has the same schedule, so the club also provides a wide array of rentable locker options to accommodate different schedules and needs.

“Both locker rooms offer rentable kit lockers for those members who prefer to keep their own personal items at the club, and daily grab-and-go lockers for those members who come to the club already dressed to workout and only need to store small personal items,” said Wilkins.

Each of the features, amenities and services found in Cooper Fitness Center’s locker rooms were carefully picked by its leadership team. “We selected a variety of high-end and custom-designed elements, from floor to ceiling and everything in-between,” said Wilkins.

While the basic amenities of each locker room are largely the same, they are customized based on the demographic they’ll be serving, according to Wilkins. For example, the women’s locker rooms have their own unique design.

“In the women’s locker room, we have chandeliers in each bay, painted glass locker doors, hand-made Italian wall coverings, private changing rooms, oversized showers, a floating ceiling to bring a unique architectural component to the room, and custom furniture in lounges, bays and vanity areas,” said Wilkins.

Achieving comfort and convenience is a difficult task, but it has paid huge dividends for Cooper Fitness Center, which has very loyal members. The right design and great amenities are part of the club’s constant mission to put the member experience first.

“The look, feel and functionality of a locker room needs to exceed members’ expectations, because it is a direct reflection of what is important to us,” said Wilkins.

Pura Vida Fitness & Spa

At Pura Vida Fitness & Spa in Denver, Colorado, privacy and relaxation are of the utmost importance. The starting point for creating such an environment was in the design of the locker rooms.

“Our locker rooms are designed around two key elements: light and privacy,” said Allison Westfahl, the general manager of Pura Vida. “To accomplish this, the south walls of the locker rooms are floor-to-ceiling glass featuring a complete privacy film. All shower stalls feature frosted glass doors, and there is ample seating for changing, placing bags and socializing. This layout ensures members are afforded as much privacy as they desire.”

Aesthetics are huge in Pura Vida’s locker rooms.

Every aspect of Pura Vida’s locker rooms is designed with purpose, with each area playing an important role in the locker rooms’ aesthetic appeal. “Natural light is reflected off decorative glass rocks that line the floor,” said Westfahl. “And our crisp white countertops are punctuated by earthy tones in the cabinetry.”

A calming atmosphere is extremely important for turning a locker room into a refuge of sorts for members, and Pura Vida pulls out all the stops to create complete serenity.

“To help encourage a relaxation vibe, we play classical music in the locker rooms and provide complimentary spa water in varying flavors,” said Westfahl. “Twice a day our signature scent is released so our members get a sensory reminder that they are ‘home.’ We also offer top-of-the-line plush robes for both members and spa clientele.”

According to Westfahl, the club takes every effort to maintain peace and quiet. “No cell phone usage is allowed in our locker rooms, not even texting,” she said.

Outside its design and rules for keeping the peace, Pura Vida offers several amenities to help members feel comfortable. Featured in both its men’s and women’s locker rooms, these amenities include steam rooms, hot tubs, clothes steamers, full-sized lockers with keypad locks, vanity stations and complimentary fruit bowls.

The magic is in the details when creating the “wow” factor in locker rooms. The more you can do to show members you care about their comfort and the appearance of your club, the more loyal they will become to your brand.

“The little touches truly do matter,” said Westfahl. “Organize toiletries so they are easily accessible, make your towel drops visible and schedule your housekeeping crew to do a walkthrough every 30 minutes. Your members will notice.” 

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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