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Design a Successful Mind-body Studio in Your Health Club

By: Bruce Carter

Bruce Carter

Many clubs are adding mind-body areas and programs as a way to attract new members and be more competitive, but creating a Zen-like experience that energizes and soothes members’ bodies, minds and spirits requires proper planning.

When preparing to open such an area, it is important to first acknowledge that customers are becoming better educated and a token gesture effort will add less value and revenue for your club than you might expect.

Popular mind-body facilities can consist of group exercise, yoga, hot yoga, Pilates, and cycle classes, although some only house the quieter types of classes such as yoga, Pilates, stretching, core and barre classes. If possible, it is best to have all of your mind-body classes in the same area.

The size of a club and the number of group exercise spaces will vary and affect design elements, but here are key design points for a mind-body area or studio.

First, the space in front of the class area should have seating, such as individual chairs or ottomans, that can be moved around as members socialize and wait for classes. This space, which should be at least 100 square feet, needs to be set back from the flow of regular club traffic to allow for some privacy. However, it is recommended that your mind-body areas be somewhat visible because it is important that members see what goes on in classes so they get curious and want to participate. Deciding where to locate the area in the club and where to place windows is a balance between privacy and visibility.

Keep all mind-body spaces free of clutter. The inspiration that can come from a beautiful and clean space is lost when items for class are stacked everywhere around the room. Proper storage is critical to positive energy and design. Plan for a storage area between 100 and 300 square feet off to the side of the room, or provide storage cabinets. Depending on the type of classes offered, it is also good to provide a cubby area for shoes outside the room.

Colors for rooms can vary, but they should relate to the overall color theme of the club. Soft earth colors, such as tans, greens and blues, work well for yoga and Pilates. More energetic colors, such as yellows, oranges and vivid earth colors, work well for group exercise. For Spinning studios, consider whether classes are done primarily in the dark with accent lighting or in rooms with more levels of lighting. Dark spaces work well with dark colors, such as purple. Black is not recommended.

Graphics and artwork can help to create the desired mood for a mind-body space. More and more research is showing that people feel less pain in environments that appeal to their instinct to want to connect with nature. Adding graphics and art that bring nature into a fitness environment can help in making exercise seem easier and less uncomfortable. Go to www.Shutterstock.com or www.art.com to find options to choose from. You also can also use mirrors or heavy-duty vinyl wall coverings to add visual interest.

Consider Practical Elements

Practical design elements, such as lighting, also are important. Lights should switch from the basic brighter overhead lighting of the main exercise areas to softer accent lighting. This can be achieved by using wall sconces, pendants, recessed can lighting, cove lighting and drum lighting. All lights should be on dimmers so different moods can be created through different light levels. Very bright rooms are no longer a good choice, even for group exercise.

The flooring for mind-body areas also has changed. Standard wood flooring was originally geared to dance-type movements, but many mind-body classes involve different types of movements with weights, kettlebells, Pilates machines, and more floor work. Often, a vinyl floor with a cushioned subfloor that looks like wood can work better for the wider range of group classes.

Other things to consider are accents such as water walls, plants and bamboo poles, which can add to the mind-body theme. Also, if things such as ballet barres are going to be added for barre classes, extra blocking in the wall will be needed to allow the bar to be securely fastened to the wall.

Proper heating and ventilation systems are a must in creating more inviting environments. Make sure the space has added HVAC capacity to move air in and out of the space. If hot yoga is planned, the key is to have an insulated room so there is minimal heat escape. Mechanical systems should allow the room to warm up and cool down in short periods of time if other classes will take place in the space.

Sound insulation also is very important, especially around the quieter type rooms. Spinning studios must be carefully positioned or completely sound insulated to prevent disturbance to other areas.

Properly planning for design can make a substantial difference in the success of your mind-body spaces. The key is to make them unique and inviting so people will want to come back again and again to rejuvenate themselves and escape from their normal, hectic daily lives.

As published on clubindustry.com, January 2014.