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Planning & Design


by: AFProducts Staff

So very much of your time today is correctly focused on the guest experience. What factors inspire guests to utilize your fitness amenity? Are they purely driven by an acceptable level of equipment offering? Not any more. Properly outfitted and substantive fitness equipment offering some time ago moved from being an option to an expectation. Today, the best examples of hotel based fitness amenities incorporate a thoughtful design of space, not simply a supply of gear. The most challenging aspect of this endeavor is that an offering in fitness should not simply be static in nature, but rather a continually evolving and dynamic space, incorporating inspiring esthetics while always remaining functionally relevant.

Great design in fitness today requires revisiting your wellness offering frequently enough to insure the guest experience exceeds the growing expectation of this valuable amenity. Management should continually observe the way in which participants make use of the facility during limited but valued exercise time while away from their likely more sophisticated offerings at home. The following are 10 important areas of Planning & Design to be mindful of to more effectively maximize your property’s commitments to fitness:

Begin with the end in mind–

The commitment to ongoing flexibility within the fitness environment requires both budgetary and creative support; areas often easier to contemplate than achieve. For existing facilities, a plan to “phase” into improvements to both equipment and interior design elements, while always working towards a vision of the finished product is the suggested way to start. Backing into an operational budget that will allow for the planned rotation of equipment with allowances for preventative maintenance, accessory support, and periodic re-freshing of floor coverings and other interior elements is essential.

Light & Space–

A fitness environment is highly sensitive to energy flow. Natural or well planned artificial light sources are critical. Even with the best planning, real estate will generally always be constrained. However, by incorporating windows for effective lighting, and a measured use of mirror, you will always have the essential building blocks to work with for fitness. Mirror offers a duality of purpose as it is both desirable as a training tool to focus on ones exercise form, while at the same time it may be used effectively in creating the illusion of a larger space. Today, framed or free standing mirrors provide a more tailored look vs. the more commonly incorporated floor to ceiling supply found in health clubs.

Insure Relevancy–

For much of the last decade, the proliferation of fitness equipment has spawned what most health clubs provide today in terms of a “standard” circuit of cardiovascular and strength training stations that primarily offer Machine-Defined exercise. This means that the user typically makes one or more basic adjustments to the seat or starting position range, and then moves easily into their exercise. Today, as the average exercise participant has become increasingly knowledgeable and comfortable in the fitness environment, we are experiencing the emergence and of User-Defined equipment. These systems allow for the flow of adjustment during the course of exercise insuring that a “one size fits all” approach need not apply. Exercise modalities such as Pilates, Functional Training, and Non-Repetitive motion cardiovascular training are examples of this and are now increasingly sought out by the intermediate fitness enthusiast. Consultation from a reputable fitness facility design and supply firm will help you navigate through just what your guests are looking for now and in the future.


You focus on this naturally in most every other area of the Hotel. The fitness amenity should be no exception. The introduction of Personal Viewing Screens for cardio equipment and the use of ambient entertainment for open fitness space provide a level of motion and surely motivation for most exercise participants. Exercise itself is inherently boring to the average participant. Those that are looking to stick with their regimen on the road will thank you for the ability to watch CNN or Oprah and not have to fight over the channel with their fellow guest. The best equipment manufactures today offer IPod or MP3 music player integration into their cardiovascular equipment. This is one facility feature quickly becoming the rule vs. the exception.


With the emergence on property of Spa facilities, healthy meal selections, and in-room fitness opportunities, it’s important to tie these areas of “Wellness” together. Health minded guest appreciate when they don’t have to be burdened by having to work hard to seek out information on services that reflect their interests. Cross marketing these offerings is a smart way to maximize your reach, while meeting multiple areas of guest interest. Consider placing a well designed menu of spa services and healthy cuisine offerings right on the display area of your treadmills and ellipticals! If you provide personal viewing screens, confirm that if the Hotel promotes these offerings on an internal TV channel that it defaults to this station as one begins to exercise.

Design In Color-

Likely your property likely is not monochromatic. Why would your fitness center be? Too often little if any thought is invested in the selection of frame or upholstery colors. Many equipment providers fail to adequately provide or even discuss available options. Make sure you consider tying upholstery colors for strength equipment into other relevant design elements that you have established for the space. The fitness center does not have to be the techy equivalent of the Starship Enterprise for your Hotel. With moderate effort, you can create a space that will appear as a mere extension of the overall design themes of the property. With a bit more focus, you just might design a wellness environment that will be the talk of your property!

Less can be more–

If you have confirmed that at times the average number of daily participants in your fitness center exceeds the appropriated space you have allotted, then its time to get creative. You can’t be everything to everyone, and your guests understand that. They will likely already assume that whatever your offering in fitness is, it will typically pale in comparison to their local health club. So, if you can not fully balance your equipment offering in the primary areas of cardiovascular equipment, strength training, Core, and finally stretching, than what can you offer? Stick to the essencials.

Cardio. Cardio, and more Cardio-

Guests will forgive you for not providing an elaborate offering of heavy duty strength equipment stations. However, they will have a tendency to resent you for not having enough cardiovascular equipment available at peak morning or evening hours. A guest may be under doctor’s orders to exercise cardiovascularly a minim of 30 minutes a day. Instead of spreading yourself too thin in each equipment category, consider a “Cardio Studio” whereby your limited space has been outfitted effectively with this equipment while still providing a modest area for the use of space efficient free-weights and benches. This concept should also allow you to flex in a stretching area when the free-weights are not in play. Again, working closely with a fitness design professional will help you maximize whatever your offering can be while considering both demographic as well as hotel capacity constraints.

Experiment…its OK-

You realize that the investment you make in fitness today may very well have to last you for the foreseeable future. However, playing it too safe may mean selecting last year’s equipment or ignoring current trends. Roughly 10-15% of your equipment offering should be rotated every year. For most Hotel facilities, this amounts to a one or two pieces of equipment and upkeep of accessories. By planning for these expenditures you will insure that your guests (as hopefully they are repeat customers) feel as though you have designated the fitness area as important to maintain and remain open to current trends. You will also find that by rotating equipment before most or all of their useful life has expired, you will be able to achieve a greater trade-in value than the typical 15-20% residual value generally achieved after equipment has passed three years of commercial use.

Ask them…-

Talk to your guests…or at least listen to them. Express to them via survey or other outreach that wellness is a vital part of today’s lifestyle and you recognized that traveling often can make it challenging to maintain their diet and exercise goals. Find out just how they feel about your offering in fitness, and what would they like to see or experience during their next visit to your property. You might be surprised at just how good…….or badly you’re performing.

FITNESS in its most basic meaning is by definition tied to evolutionary theory. Effective fitness facility design is no different and must continually appeal to changing trends and evolving guest interests. Don’t make the mistake that operators have in the past that this is simply an areas to check back on every 3-5 years. You will find that your guests think otherwise and may consider a property that appears to pay more attention to this increasingly important aspect of their lifestyle during travel.

AFProducts http://www.AFProducts.com


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