To keep pace with the demands of amenity-seeking members, clubs are transforming their bare-bones fitness centers into defined, polished hubs of popular activity.
Making fitness a priority has helped many clubs and resorts thrive despite the economic challenges facing the hospitality industry. Fitness facilities are a way to extend amenities to the entire family, regardless of age. Club and resort fitness centers have evolved from small, hard-to-find afterthoughts into highly visible centers fully loaded with state-of-the-art machines and energized programming.
“There is a need for fitness,” says Aaron McGrath, Fitness Director at Worthington Hills Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. “People realize the importance of physical activity. When you take that need and look at the economy today, you see that members want and need more for their dollars. By adding a fitness facility into the club, you’re providing that value.”
|SUMMING IT UP
These fitness facilities are designed to provide an extension of the upscale charm and impeccable service of the clubhouse. Rather than throwing together a few machines and free weights, properties are taking the time to create fitness centers that reflect a design and style all their own.
The fitness center at Worthington Hills CC is highly visible. “Members coming to use the banquet room and dining facilities can see the fitness facility, which reminds them of this amenity,” says McGrath. “Additionally, within the fitness facility there are entrances to both the men’s and women’s locker rooms. This means golfers come in and out of the fitness center, which keeps us on their minds.”
This visibility has helped the fitness center become a popular amenity. As members enter the 7,500-sq. ft. facility, they are greeted by the fitness staff seated behind a half-circle front desk. The cardio equipment is set up along walls of windows, offering members a direct view outdoors, and a group fitness room is adjacent to the front desk. The core of the room has a circuit of 13 weight machines, while the far corner of the room is set up with free weights. For members seeking privacy in their workouts, the club also has a loft with cardio equipment and free weights, located upstairs behind the front desk.
Opened in 2007, the fitness center was designed as an open space that utilizes natural light as a way to establish a lively, social atmosphere. “One of the keys in our design is that we are not a corporate gym. We are not a typical workout facility; we are a country club,” says McGrath. “We want to create a homey feel here.”
The facility has a coastal design theme, with sea blue and cream walls, a bright white, cathedral-like ceiling, and natural light flowing through the oversized paned windows. The club opted for soft, blue indoor-outdoor carpeting rather than the rubberized flooring often seen in commercial fitness clubs.
Conversation areas within the facility bring the social element of the club into the fitness center. People often gather in front of six flat-screen televisions on the walls to discuss the news or sporting events of the day. Additionally, there is a reading room to the right of the front desk. The room has a cherry wood dining table with five chairs, newspapers and a kitchenette with coffee and tea. “It’s like sitting at your own kitchen table reading the paper,” says McGrath.
The new fitness facility has helped the club increase the value of membership, while also attracting new members. Prior to 2007, the club had 34 clubhouse memberships, which gives members access to clubhouse dining and the fitness center.
Today, there are 140 clubhouse members. “[The fitness center] has bumped our numbers up,” says McGrath.
Bringing the Outside In
The state-of-the-art fitness facility at Bellevue (Wash.) Club offers something for everyone. The 200,000-sq. ft. facility houses several fitness areas, including a room with cardio equipment, free weights and weight machines; a Pilates studio with reformers; a multi-use yoga studio that can be warmed to 105 degrees for hot yoga; a conditioning studio with TRX, a Kinesis wall, free weights and cable machines; an aerobics studio; two indoor pools; one outdoor pool; a basketball gymnasium with a running track above the courts; indoor tennis and squash courts; and small training rooms and offices.
Three years ago, the club added a 15,000-sq. ft., three-floor addition to the fitness center. The design theme for the addition was to bring the beauty of the outdoor surroundings indoors.
“One of the most important [design elements] is natural light,” says Brian Flaherty, General Manager. “We worked to create an airy, spacious and light-filled experience within the new facility. It has been wonderfully embraced by our members.”
Bright, open windows are found in all areas of the addition, including skylights, paned windows and frosted windows that filter the natural light. The windows also help create a garden ambiance—and to add to that, a Japanese Zen garden is directly outside the yoga studio. Double doors from the studio lead outside while also providing a clear view of the garden from within it. “It’s one of the most popular features in the entire building,” says Flaherty.
Many natural materials, elements and colors were used to further bring the outdoors inside Bellevue Club’s new addition.
“The architecture is distinctly Northwest in its theme,” says Flaherty. “There is a lot of glass, wood, steel and stone throughout the space.”
In addition to its serene, natural setting, the fitness facility has a residential feeling, which is mirrored throughout the clubhouse by a display of paintings and sculptures from local artists. Most of the fitness studios also have gathering areas outside, where members can meet and greet each other prior to classes.
The addition has allowed Bellevue Club to expand its programming. “Ongoing investments in our facility and in our programming have allowed us to retain our leading edge as it relates to maintaining and sustaining membership goals,” says Flaherty.
A Calming Workout
Prior to a renovation, the fitness center at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock, Ark., was located below the offices in the clubhouse. It was a small space with no windows, dark carpeting, and minimal equipment. In 2009, the club invested in a fitness renovation and now offers members a bright, airy space with state-of-the-art equipment and stellar views.
The new facility has an open floor plan and three walls of windows that overlook the pristine golf course, lake and pool area. All of the cardio equipment is set up along the windows, while the free weights are in the back area.
“The design of the fitness center revolved around the windows,” says Gretchen Leech, Fitness Director. “We wanted members to feel like they were in a serene, relaxing fitness center where they could look outside and see other members playing and enjoying the club. You really can’t get a better view when you’re working out in Little Rock.”
|Healthy TouchesMany properties are now offering more than just a good workout, with the addition of wellness programs that help encourage members and guests to make health a top priority:
While the rest of the clubhouse has a more traditional look, with dark woods and a rich color palette, the fitness center is a bright, breezy oasis, with caramel-colored walls and flooring. “I didn’t want [the design] to be busy,” says Leech. “We wanted it to be very calming while staying with the country club feel.”
The fitness room has upscale detailing that blends well with the rest of the clubhouse. For example, wood-grain chair rail molding is used between the mirrors in the free weights area, while the brick columns throughout the facility add texture to the design.
One of the goals for the new facility was to create an amenity-rich fitness center that would allow members to drop their fitness club memberships. “I wanted to have all the equipment that a larger gym would have, and I wanted to bring in younger members to use the fitness center,” says Leech.
In addition to bringing in new equipment, the club also renovated its old fitness center on the lower level into a group fitness room. The former space was split in half, with one side housing a childcare room and the other used for group fitness space. “We put in new wood flooring, added mirrors and painted the walls a chocolate mousse color,” says Leech. “It looks like a different place now.”
In the first year the facility was opened, usage jumped 17 percent.
When Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas, Texas renovated its fitness center in 2007, the club wanted to upgrade its dated facility. Previously, the club had three racquetball courts and a small workout area housed in an all-brick, windowless space.
Today, the fitness center is a modern, 5,000-sq. ft., two-story open space, with oversized windows that provide sweeping views of the club’s 18th hole and pond.
The fitness center’s first floor was designed as a general workout area and includes 15 cardiovascular machines, weight training machines and a free weight area. The second floor is a sports-specific training area for golf, tennis and other various sports. This area includes Free Motion equipment, power towers, rowing machines and functional training equipment such as balls, bands and tubes. There is also a group fitness room and a TRX suspension system, along with men’s and women’s massage rooms and a full-service ladies locker room.
“The fitness center offers a high-tech mix with a feel for the rich history of the country club,” says James Intermagio, Director of Fitness.
Bent Tree’s fitness center utilizes dark woods for the wall panels and railings. These traditional elements are then offset by a more modern edge created by stainless-steel detailing in the windows and equipment. The blending of classic and contemporary styles is further apparent with the modern floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the club’s stately golf course.
The fitness facility goes above the standard workout center with a warm reception area that has an 18-foot marble front desk, three upholstered chairs and a rich wood coffee table.
Since its opening in 2009, member usage of fitness services—including personal training, massage and group exercise classes—has increased 15 to 20 percent, according to Intermagio. “The new fitness center gives Bent Tree Country Club a more complete experience of services offered to our members and helps market our club to future members,” he says. “Our members recognize the need for health and fitness in their daily lives. They also understand if they want to improve their golf and tennis game, they must exercise to do so.”