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Here’s a fitness challenge for you that, for a change, you can do without breaking into a sweat: close your eyes and visualise what a visit to your gym is like, from coming through the front door to visiting the main fitness areas.

In fact, doing that may well bring you out into a cold sweat – especially if the design of your facility is no longer fit for purpose. Even if you feel positive now, how will things be in a year, or five years? And what will that mean for new memberships and retention?

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Design – the look and feel of premises, including the walls, ceilings, floors, fixtures and fittings – is increasingly being embraced by all kinds of businesses. Here are a few points to consider when thinking about your fitness space and its future.

Not everyone wants to be there.

It doesn’t take a big effort to get yourself to a watch shop or the Apple Store, but in fitness we often battle the fact that exercise isn’t always fun. Sometimes people would rather stay at home and if an exercise space looks dated, members are even more likely to give in to inertia.

The flipside is that great gym design motivates people. You’re in the office or factory and have a choice between going home or going to the gym for a workout. If the gym is a welcoming environment and, more to the point, an exciting experience then you are more likely to head there.

People work harder in stunning surroundings.

Take a trip to any national park on a summer’s day and you’ll see people who rarely exercise walking for miles. The fact that they are in beautiful surroundings is not a coincidence.

Your gym may never be a visual match for the beauty of nature at its finest, but great design certainly inspires members to stay longer and put in real effort. The sense of accomplishment will be a trigger for coming back soon, and that’s what client retention is all about.

It’s a transparent world.

Social media and photo sharing mean that more people than ever can get a look at your facility without visiting. An investment in design can result in more likes and shares.

Let your facility fall behind the competition and you could still get some shares, but they could be accompanied with comments like “this is why I’m not renewing my membership.”


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