Functional Design can be defined as “the process of responding to the need or desires of the people who will use an item in a way that allows their needs or desires to be met.” (Dustin M. Wax, Smashing Magazine)
Movement based training spaces have drastically altered the landscape of the fitness industry. From the unprecedented growth of boutique studios, to big box club chains seeking to replicate that “Experience” within their respective facilities, and everywhere in between — owners and operators are devoting tremendous resources to create fun, profitable, and sustainable training experiences. Unfortunately, many are incorporating a basic strategy of “build it, and they will come,” without sufficient thought and planning to ensuring that ALL “needs or desires are being met.”
When looking to implement an effective movement based training space (regardless of your market segment), it is vital to remember that criteria for an optimal “Experience” can vary drastically from a member, to a coach/trainer, to an owner/operator.
This is precisely why “Functional Design” is vital. A member is seeking a fun, safe, clean, and inspirational training space. A space that is inviting rather than intimidating. Where the training space is located within the facility plays a key role for the client. Don’t forget that human senses are key factors in the human experience. If it’s dark, dirty, and smells like a football locker room, you’re not ‘sweating all the details.’ Inspirational messaging and wall art can deliver inspiration.
A coach/trainer experience is a direct correlation of his/her ability to effectively deliver their training methodology. Do they have the appropriate amount of space? Is that space oriented to allow clients to move safely and intuitively from movement to movement or station to station? Do they have access to the functional modalities they require, are there appropriate quantities of each, and are they easy to access? Is a bridge required or do they just want open floor space? Be sure to let the coaches be heard in the planning process.
The operator has some uniquely different criteria for evaluating their experience. Certainly, many of the items noted for the trainer and member experience are relevant to the operator. But as a business owner/operator, they need to more closely consider the economics of their investments. Items like the cost of per square foot of space being allocated to facilitate movement based training and their ROI. Further, does their investment provide flexibility for future growth and program evolution. Will this space (or spaces) provide powerful WOW moments to retain current members and trainers? Equally as important, does it aid in attracting new clients when conducting membership tours. In short, are these “Showcase” spaces (note: if not, they should Be).
These criteria are just a small sample of the numerous items that need to be considered. Fitness enthusiasts have an overabundance of options. Competing for relevance and training revenues are at the all-time high. The old adage, “if you build it, they will come,” isn’t enough. Designing spaces that deliver on everyone’s needs will go a long way in setting you up for long-term success.
By: Justin Campbell, Functional Design Specialist