Women's Only Fitness Facilities
Creating The Environment That Attracts New Members And Retains Current Ones
By: Rudy Fabiano
The current day thinking is that one size no longer fits all, that is, can a health club possibly appeal to all ages, genders, and socioeconomic stature? It appears the way to go is to carve out a niche and cater to it really well. There are a lot of women out there currently not frequenting health clubs for any number of reasons, perhaps the design is all wrong, too macho. We've asked Rudy Fabiano a 13-year veteran at designing health clubs for his wisdom.
Women's Only Facilities are a trend that is on the rise. Since the early 1990s women's only health clubs such as Lady of America, Ladies Express Workout and Curves for Women have gained popularity because owners target the club's environment and workouts to their female clientele. One way they achieve this is by incorporating carefully designed architecture to create an environment that inspires females to exercise.
This "right" environment can constitute such details as appropriate lighting, the right balance of mirrors, an aesthetically pleasant interior design scheme, a balance of social & private spaces, a well-built facility, female-sized equipment and the appropriate space designated for sociable exercising . . . this adds up to an atmosphere that women really feel comfortable exercising in.
For example, Curves for Women boasts over 3,500 facilities in the U.S. alone since franchising began in 1995. And in August 2002, it was announced that Lady of America acquired a chain of 88 Ladies Express Workout Clubs. Why are these statistics so relevant for health club owners? This is because an understanding of your client base and the right architectural environment will have a huge impact on gaining new members as well as member preservation.
Creating the Right" Environment
For the two million women who belong to women-only health clubs in the U.S. creating just the "right" environment is the solution in keeping membership alive. This "right" environment can constitute such details as appropriate lighting, the right balance of mirrors, an aesthetically pleasant interior design scheme, a balance of social & private spaces, a well-built facility, female-sized equipment and the appropriate space designated for sociable exercising. In addition, facilities including day spas, massage therapy and salons will increase your membership because these are incentives for women to work out in your health club. All in all, this adds up to an atmosphere that women really feel comfortable exercising in.
Women are more likely to adhere to an exercise program when, "the influence is coming from the exercise or the environment connected to the exercise."
What Women Want
But what about the millions of women who are not physically active? Influence these females to join your health club and just imagine the membership potential! Some interesting factors come into play when encouraging non-active women to become physically active. According to a study published in Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal (9/99) women are more likely to adhere to an exercise program when, "the influence is coming from the exercise or the environment connected to the exercise." In addition to that, the findings suggest that because women want to "fit in" while exercising that the environment must be crafted so that socialization takes place.
Furthermore, a more practical architectural concern is at hand. Women's Only Health Clubs
could benefit from increases in membership if the environment includes plans for a child-care facility. This aforementioned study also strongly suggests that many women cannot be active because of ties associated with children, spouses and the home. Therefore, if the needs of non-active women are met, then membership can be increased and maintained successfully.
Keeping these needs in mind, the business savvy way to see results in your health club is to hire an experienced architect when planning your next renovation or building project. As an architect dedicated to the fitness industry, we create women's only facilities that fully focus on what women want and need to feel comfortable. This has become an integral part of what we are fully committed too.
We know that the challenge here is that we are dealing with a more diverse and sophisticated public now. In fact, ACE suggests that prospective club members (women included) should "make sure the club is a place where you would enjoy spending time."
Click on thumbnails to enlarge.
A Sampling of Rudy Fabiano's Designs
In conclusion, the historical stainless steel and glass mirror décor that has previously attracted the twenty-something to thirty-something hard body crowd, is now being replaced by the tenets of new architecture whose goal it is to harmonize the needs of a club's diverse clientele into a design that attracts different potential clients, especially women.
About the Author
Italian born Rudy Fabiano has been President and Design Director of Fabiano Designs since 1989. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, a licensed professional architect in 13 states as well as a professional planner. His health club design experience has spanned over 200 projects in 35 states.
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