Focus On Physical Plant

Part Two: 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 second 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 the lounge areas to the pathways and connections.

Lounge Areas
This really is the extension of the juice bar. In the past, this was a "big fluffy couch" area. Currently, it is becoming a "chic cafe" area where one can sip a drink and watch the workout area. Many facilities multitask this area for sales because of its informality.

* Will this area double to accommodate sales?
* Flooring is a major consideration since this is a heavy traffic area.

* Cyber cafes.
* More amenities.
* Telephones for members use.
* Specialty and calming items such as waterfalls, fountains and fish tanks.
* Televisions with large screens and multiple information centers.
* Business hook ups for laptops to printers.

Pro Shop
Pro shops have taken a bit of a hit in the last few years and maybe for good reason. Unless you are in a specialty location, like Venice, Calif., it's just too difficult to compete with outlets selling sportswear.

* Put in a very visible area. Understand your market and only stock items that you can sell.
* Keep the area small so you can rotate stock.
* Use mirrors and slat wall to "expand" area.

* Equipment sales.
* Showcases throughout the club.
* Increased supplements sales.
* Movement into holistic products.

Pathways and Connections
This is the part of the club that people think the least about. In fact, this is the first item every owner tries to eliminate. You should use designated pathways to your advantage. All your potential members really use these pathways to experience the club, so you should design the tour. Pathways, when done properly, are excellent and safe places to view a club and not get intimidated. The pathway is where prospective members spend 80 percent of their time during the tour.

* Articulate the pathway (i.e., "the yellow brick road" concept).
* Flooring is a major consideration since this is a heavy traffic area.
* Establish points along the path specifically to view the club and interact.
* Lower the scale of the path at places.
* Provide discovery points as you make your way through the club.

* Most of the trends have been in flooring. Currently, colored concrete and epoxy floors are big due to their low maintenance, which lends a relatively low life-cycle cost.

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