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How Technology Is Changing Club Design

By: Bruce Carter

Bruce Carter

We are all aware of the rapid changes in technology affecting our lives. Now, more than ever, there is a rapid escalation in the use of technology in clubs, providing members a more engaging experience. This is especially true if you want to attract the 20 – 40 age group, yet all members want the best possible solutions to their desire to look and feel their best.

All of these technological advances affect club design. If you plan accordingly, technology will function more effectively, cost less and be an integral part of the excitement of a club.

Here are some key factors to consider when incorporating technology into a design, and they apply to any size or type of club, new or renovation:

1. The use of technology to enhance a member’s exercise experience.

Keeping members aware of their physiology during a workout can add to the positive feedback of their progress. This includes wireless and cloud technology for monitoring physical activity. Some types of equipment come with heart rate monitoring capabilities, and other options include the growing category of wearables. Often, this information can end up on a monitor as part of a class, and as a result of this type of technology, club design now includes a number of different monitors throughout a club.

Virtual workouts are growing in popularity and can add dimension to an instructor-driven class or take the place of an instructor. In addition, mobile apps can allow people to have immediate access to the photo and video content of a club, which means there are more “eyes” on a club than ever before.

Newer lighting designs involve combining a number of options that take exercise experiences to a new level. Lighting is evolving into such choices as having lights being able to go from one shade of light to another throughout the day.

“Stage” type LED lighting can allow for complete changes of a room environment at the push of a button. A room can change to any desired color, from a soft soothing experience to a high energy experience. Now, easier than ever, the lighting can be attuned to music adding to the excitement and variety for a wide range of group and small group training classes. When used properly, lighting technology and the options that are now available are one of the fastest growing design trends with health clubs.

Here is an example of a design for a spin studio that incorporates the latest technology, allowing for a wider range of different spin class experiences:

In such a studio, assume that it would be a “dark” spin room with no light (indoors or outdoors) coming in to the space. First would be the lighting. Remote-controlled, dimmable track lighting provides for one type of lighting experience while also providing brighter levels for cleaning. Then, add “stage” lighting that allows for different variations of color, intensity and lighting “movement.” Next, add a sound system and music that would be coordinated with the lighting for energy and variety. Then, the instructor, using a wireless microphone, instructs the class while controlling the music, colors and movement of the lighting. Now, add two monitors that would allow for the wireless technology of monitoring heart rates and other information. Possibly also add a large screen behind the instructor that can be lowered remotely and a ceiling mounted projector that can provide unbelievable visual experiences. All of this could be operated from a tablet or even a smart phone, eliminating the need to have the bulky equipment next to the instructor. This design results in a spin room that is incomparable in your marketplace and fully justifying the extra fees you may charge for such an experience.

2. The use of technology is enhancing club operations that have a direct relation to revenue and profits.

With the increasing desire for clubs to increase revenue per member, ancillary revenue from different programs and areas is growing. Access control systems is the way to control the access to these different spaces, including RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), key fobs and key pads. Also, design may need to include secure data portals for tracking fitness regimens, especially as more healthcare providers will want this information. All of these have to be properly located with all the necessary electrical, cable and data hook-ups.

3. The use of technology adds to a member’s overall welcoming experience in a club.

Clubs now need to provide club-wide high speed wi-fi and convenient locations to charge mobile devices. Kiosks and stations that show how to use equipment reduce the intimidation of equipment, especially when staffing levels do not allow for such.

A side aspect of technology is the need to have a décor unique and exciting enough to be “instagrammable” to post on social media, especially if you wish to attract younger demographics, such as millennials.

4. Making sure that all the technology choices are unobtrusively installed allowing for an inviting environment.

Coordinated with the fixtures and finishes of a facility, the more this type of technology looks “built in” and not just “added on,” the better. This all presents an image of the “latest state of the art” experience.

Technology is making clubs better in many desirable ways. The key is to properly design everything in such a way that it significantly affects how a club functions while also taking members to new levels of rewarding experiences.

As published on clubinsideronline.com, February 2019.