In the last five to 10 years, the thirst for diverse fitness options has been insatiable. Similarly, smaller boutique studios have emerged on every trendy street in America, taking a significant chunk out of their big box competitors’ profits in the process.
Consequently, forward-thinking owners and managers of traditional clubs have been motivated to pivot accordingly in order to stay relevant and keep up with demand.
Enter big box gyms, who have taken the plunge and leveraged leading functional training companies to help update their spaces to make room for amazing training experiences. These businesses have been successful in their transformations because they have followed all the right steps in creating a purposeful space their members love.
In this article, we will be discussing the best practices for putting these principles into play, and most importantly, being successful in doing so:
Before you even consider what you want to do in your facility, you need to remember the end goal is to maximize your return on investment (ROI). Whether that’s engaging existing members, attracting new ones, ramping up non-dues revenue or a combination of all three, this space needs to feel right for your audience and goals. For instance, if your main goal is attracting new members, visibility and aesthetics are imperative in creating “curb appeal” (think prospect tours and marketing imagery for your website and social media).
Based on those goals, you need to decide what the purpose of the space is. Are you trying to create a centerpiece area for hardcore functional training activity, or an intimate and exclusive area that’s tucked away? Either are fine, depending on your goals, but it’s important to make sure the space feels intentional as opposed to an afterthought, and above all, tied to your overall ROI.
Once you define the type of space you’ll be creating, you need to literally choose your location. For instance, will you be clearing an existing area, or will you be tearing down walls and doing some construction — which isn’t always in the budget and isn’t always necessary to achieve great results. Furthermore, are there spaces in your facility that are underutilized (e.g. old, unused racquetball courts)? Or on the flipside, are your spaces being used inefficiently — in other words, do you have an area filled with big bulky machines that only do one or two things? In either instance, this space can’t feel like an afterthought. Whatever vision you land on, make sure you consider the first two steps — your goals and purposeful planning — which will ensure your space aligns with the needs and wants of your member base.