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Focus On Physical Plant

Part Three: Designing a Club From the Front Door

From the point where a person first sees your club to the moment he walks out the door, he should be impressed with the experience. In this third edition of an ongoing series on excellent club design, Rudy Fabiano of Fabiano Designs International in Montclair, N.J., walks club operators through a facility designed for success, from staircases to the child-care room.

Vertical Circulation

This is an opportunity to bring someone through your club, vertically, to experience the three-dimensional space. Stairs are by nature a sculptural event. They are a unique experience in the club and should be played up.

* Land right in the middle of the club.
* Use the landing as a viewing spot.
* Create balconies, bell towers and other points of interest.
* Make them ADA compliant.

* Multiple stairs.
* Funky railings
* Elevators.
* Ramps.

Sales Areas and Offices

Whether you have offices or an area, you should give plenty of thought into where your sales will occur. Many times in lieu of offices, sales are done right at the juice bar and lounge. This can work well, but you'll need more tables in the lounge area to accommodate this. (Also, keep in mind that paperwork at the juice bar can get a little difficult.) If you have offices, we advocate keeping them as visually open as possible and close to the pathways and main gym to reduce the intimidation factor.

* Design your sales area/offices appropriate to the market. Your sales areas will speak volumes about who you are.
* Avoid small, cramped offices without glass.
* Use durable materials that will look good for some time. People's eyes wander the most under sales situations.
* Design the procedure for paperwork, collecting the money and credit cards.

* Moving to more informality, even in offices.
* Side-by-side sitting (less of me vs. you).
* Round tables.
* On-line registrations.

Kids' Room/Child Sitting

If you chose to provide a room for children, it should be in a fun, safe environment that will allow the parents to leave their children with confidence. It should be as close as possible to the front entry, and some form of visibility into the room from the club is desired so anyone can check in.

* Padding on floor and all major child-proofing safety features.
* Colorful and diverse activities.
* A kid-size bathroom and changing station within the room.
* ADA compliance and local codes. Remember, this is not a daycare center.

* Either getting much bigger or being eliminated.
* Computers and more educational slants to play.
* Expanding into kids' fitness programs.
* Close circuit TV feed to cardio deck and other areas of the gym.

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