Why clubs are implementing recovery spaces and where they’re headed.
Recovery has always been an important part of the member exercise regimen. However, in recent years more and more health clubs have invested in recovery spaces with increasingly robust options.
One facility that has invested in a recovery-specific area is Chelsea Piers Connecticut. Its Recovery Room boasts an infrared sauna, massage chair, multiple Normatec Pulse 2.0 Full Body packages and a wide variety of Hyperice products.
“We wanted a space where members could relax, recover and rejuvenate their minds and body,” said Greta Wagner, the executive director and executive vice president of Chelsea Piers Connecticut. “We see a variety of our membership base benefitting from the services provided — from someone just starting their journey to better health to our competitive team and professional athletes. Overall health includes rest. The days of ‘no pain no gain’ are long gone, or they will be when you leave our recovery lounge.”
To ensure all members can reap the benefits of the Recovery Room, Wagner said they have taken the approach to package these amenities with some of their current fitness services to better provide a more holistic experience, as well as offer single sessions or individual packages to members.
“We have our fitness director, David Wegrzyn, work with our coaches and trainers to determine the most beneficial groupings of services, who they should be targeted to and how often we recommend they spend time in the recovery lounge,” explained Wagner. “Some services are trainer provided. The goal is to prescribe what’s best for the overall wellness goals and needs of the member.”
Club Greenwood — another facility with a recovery zone — has its space as a membership add-on. The space is filled with HydroMassage lounge chairs; Normatec recovery boots, hip and arm attachments; Hyperice heat and cold compression; and Power Plate, TRUE Stretch Cages, TriggerPoint accessories and a place to relax.
Lisa Thomas, the director of member services at Club Greenwood, said they chose these amenities for their ease of use, meaning they could be used without the assistance of additional staff.
Thomas said there has been a small struggle to introduce the space to members, but those who are utilizing the space are reaping the benefits.
“Our opening was one month before COVID-19 hit in 2020, so we didn’t get the initial push and growth we wanted and we are having to relaunch with a smaller membership base,” explained Thomas. “It’s just taking longer than we had anticipated. Popularity continues to grow but ebbs and flows. For those who find relief or just cherish a few moments to unwind and relax, they love the space and find the extra cost to their membership worth it.”
Although COVID-19 has put a minor setback on Club Greenwood’s recovery area, Thomas said she thinks it will also help the offerings grow.
“[Recovery zones] will continue to grow and further tools/resources will become available, especially given the mental and physical state of people over the last two years,” said Thomas. “New clubs and studios will be designed with recovery as part of their business plan, and it will become a norm rather than a perk.”
Wagner agreed with Thomas that recovery spaces will continue to gain popularity, mainly due to member want and need.
“Recovery spaces will continue to grow and become larger in size,” said Wagner. “The days of a five to 10-minute stretch or foam roll will be a thing of the past. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts will seek out professionals and coaches who can help, teach and train for both. Over the past few years there has been more focus on the lymphatic system for recovery. For instance, think of the word compression. We see it everywhere, even in apparel: socks, sleeves, leggings, shirts. Biofeedback and pulse electromagnetic field mats are the next surge. These mats increase efficiency in recovery, allowing for less time without the sacrifice of less recovery.”
Regardless if it’s compression therapy, cold therapy or percussive therapy, it’s evident recovery is evolving and the industry needs to keep up. “As technology advances, these recovery spaces will have to evolve as well,” said Thomas. “Paying attention to our members will be the key to being on top of those changes that will need to be made to remain relevant.”
As the fitness industry bounces back from the pandemic and is welcoming in seasoned athletes and those who have never worked out before, implementing a recovery space will help them thrive.
“From the weekend warrior to the elite athlete, recovery is vital for performance,” explained Wagner. “Every minute of intense training should be met with one minute of recovery. High capacity for recovery allows for a higher level of performance. As more research supports these findings, athletes of all levels will be seeking out more avenues for recovery.”