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How to Create Dynamic “Studio Clubs” Within Your Club

By: Bruce Carter

Bruce Carter

One of the more significant trends in the club industry has been the growth of studio clubs and major chains such as Soul Cycle and Orangetheory. Studios can often be just 2,000 – 4,000 square feet, yet generate monthly dues of $100 – $200 per month. This can obviously be frustrating to a large, full-service club in the same marketplace offering similar types of programs, yet only charging $20 – $50 per month or more for their entire club.

What makes the studio club so “in demand” and at higher prices? What can larger facilities do to better compete with the studios?

First, successful studio clubs have exceptional programming and staffing. Second, they have a profound image and brand, which includes graphics and signage. Third, they have a unique and exciting environment. Your individual studios should have all three traits. We will focus on branding and unique environments that will result in spaces that are every bit as dynamic and “exclusive” as the studio clubs.

Before moving forward, it should be noted that not all studio clubs can charge high prices and generate substantial revenue. Many are nothing more than small basic spaces with equipment or programs and are generic in many ways. Even with exceptional staffing and programming a studio club can still be a boring and uninspiring environment appealing to only the very dedicated exercisers.

A successful studio club has an image that the exercise experience provided is better than any other option in the marketplace, especially larger clubs that offer the same programing. People in general perceive that a club that specializes on just one thing, such as yoga, would do it better.

Here are the key design steps you can do to make your studio be worth more in the eyes of the market.

Steps You Can Take to Make Your Studio More Valuable in the Eyes of the Market

Begin with unique branding, signs and graphics. Think of a name that best describes the memorable experience for the program. Yoga should not be “yoga,” spin should not be “spin,” core training should not be “core training.” There is nothing unique in any of these generic names, so why would anyone perceive them to be exceptional or a more valuable exercise experience. Look at these names as an example: Pure Yoga, Spirit Yoga, Love Yoga, Pure Spin, Inspire Spin, Team Spin, Core Success, Core Energy, Organic Core, Group Energy, Group Focus and Rejuvenate are just a few ideas of the concept of branding a name and image of the studio and programs you are offering. However, if you are going to promote such names, check for the right to do so first. But, there are plenty of names you can come up with.

Work with a branding/graphic arts company to come up with a logo and brand look. It can be unique to your club while possibly working with your existing logo, but it needs to be quickly recognizable and easy to remember and duplicated in a variety of marketing options. Then, follow up with attractive signs and graphics. Even if your signs and graphics cost more, they are to be looked at as a marketing cost; they are bringing attention to, adding perceived value to and selling more revenue producing programs.

Next are design points to consider in creating a unique and exciting environment:

First, consider the location of your space in relation to how easily it will be seen by the most people. Even if it is spinning with no windows (to create a dark environment), the outside of the room should have attention-getting signage/branding, lighting and architectural accents. Remember, don’t think of this as another room in your club but as a “club of its own” within your club.

A common question is: Should space for team or group training be separate rooms or part of the general workout area? This is often a function of the business plan in which members will be charged extra for use of the room. If this is so, then it is best to have a separate room with windows because it adds perceived value to the space. However, when a separate room is used, then it is important to follow the points mentioned to make the room “special” and unique from other areas of the club.

Second, add dynamic lighting. The best choices are LED “entertainment” type lighting, giving you a variety of different colored lighting. Rooms can become blue, ultraviolet, red or rotate to different colors. Options exist to hook up the lighting to music variations. If you look at the major studio brands, almost none have only basic “white” box lighting. All lighting in studios should be on dimmers to add to the lighting environment. Different types of lighting in the same room should be on separate switches.

Third, are finishes and colors. If you plan to use multiple color options and entertainment lighting, often, lighter colored walls such as off-white work best because the colored lighting works best reflecting off such walls. Particular colored walls coordinated with particular colored lights (such as blue walls with blue lighting) can also be profound.

Turf in small group training spaces is increasingly being used supporting the average person’s desire to exercise on “grass.’ Wood-looking vinyl flooring with a cushioned backing is also gaining in popularity along with the standard rubber flooring. Flooring with added striping and accent marks for different conditioning routines add to the “state of the art” studio image.

Protect your walls in areas where the walls will get scuffed up. Dirty walls greatly reduce the image of a space, especially if you are charging a premium for programs in the room. Consider FRP wall coverings, which are inexpensive, more durable than laminate and now come in a wide range of color and style options.

One of the design themes for cross training spaces is a term now being used: “gritty.” This is more of an industrial look with very little decor accents or specialized lighting. The “shades of grey” environment appeals to intense hard-core training, and this might be the market you want to appeal with a “club within a club” of your club.

The growth of studio clubs is profound and clearly adds to the competition a club will face. However, clubs can create their own dynamic studios and then become a better option offering specialized studio programs while also offering other varied programs and equipment. Taking a “token gesture” approach to these spaces will not do. You then are only adding to the special strength and uniqueness of the single location studio in your marketplace.

Do you wish to give people a greater choice within your club or let outside studios do a better job of getting people to think they offer better programs, staffing and stimulating environments? It is motivating to know there are a number of things a club can do with their own “studio” spaces that can be just as exciting and dynamic and even more so. The choice is yours.

As published on clubinsideronline.com, October 2017.