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Designing a wellness club: more than just functional layouts

One of the first acts of the articulated design of a wellness club is the definition of the distribution layout. The design only starts at the end of a preliminary path that, from the study of geo-marketing leads to the drafting of a careful business plan.
The purpose of the two types of analysis is to identify the target of reference of the club, the positioning of the budget,  the menu of services to be offered and, finally, the sustainable budget for each item of expenditure in view of a reasonable break-even point for the business activity. It is only from this moment and within the perimeter defined by this series of financial, management and marketing constraints that the first phase of architectural design begins.

The role of the designer in the definition of spaces of a wellness club

The role of the designer at this point is to arrive at the exact spatial scheme that best interprets the typical needs of optimising commercial space, functionality and consistency of flows, in compliance (as well as the perimeter identified by the above analysis) with the regulatory constraints of the sector, urban planning and construction, health and safety. Specificity of the intended use and individual activities that the definition of the menu of services can go so far as to configure, are arguments that motivate the opportunity to make use, for the design, of the collaboration of professionals (architects and plant engineers) with proven experience in the specific field.
We start from the spaces, from the correct sizing (the reception to the changing rooms, the equipment room to the training rooms, etc..) to the ideal correlation between them, paying attention to the different elements of the paths - dirty and clean, dry and wet, ending with the strategic location of some key services such as consulting. It is not only environments, but also the technical or technological choices specific to the club which are some of the factors that justify the need for a specific design experience, aimed at optimising the functionality and management of the club. Optimisation means first of all the opportunity to use as few resources as possible to ensure the proper functioning of the club.
The group cycle ride is a winning experience for a wellness club
Think, for example, of how much the remuneration of one or two additional figures can affect the year-end budget of a Club. In addition, the importance of positive feedback from the user who shares experience with friends and family.

It is also important to underline the growing importance of the experiential dimension of consumption and the fact that the consumer's attention is increasingly focused on the search for experiences, emotions and sensations rather than just the functionality of the product.

In order to offer the reader a more exhaustive and less targeted vision of the purely architectural one, we will not deal specifically here with either the theory of perception or the importance of space modelling, which, through the tools of architectural composition, are the basis of the ability of architecture to arouse emotions.

Designing spaces of  a wellness club in a functional and experiential way

The cognitive approach to the study of consumer behaviour demonstrates that individual consumer actions are the result of constant interpersonal information processing. The customer immersed in a consumer experience would therefore be continuously engaged in processing environmental stimuli and using them to make their own purchasing decisions, but what is most interesting here is to investigate further the complexity of the landscape within which the functional and emotional design of a club is placed, in order to be able to identify its primary importance.

Quality wellness clubs study the best layout according to the needs of customers

Primary values of the contemporary economy

A key word of our times, the term experience can be understood as the highest moment of connection between the outside and the inside world in which the consumer expresses aspects of themselves and society, communicating their association with objects, identifying with a group.

The password is sharing, which means developing networks, relationships between people, between people and companies within which to communicate more often a new form of value: the one attributed to the experiential dimension of consumption in place of the value of goods.

The term emotion is also increasingly popular, used as a synonym for a pleasant and unforgettable experience. In this context, emotional marketing (orginating at the end of the Nineties) inevitably becomes a reference discipline that takes into account how the customer (who has become a sensory organism) interacts with the environment, elaborating their own consumption strategy.

In an age of community, attention to relationships, well-being (as opposed to the well-being of the purely consumerist society just before) and shared knowledge, it becomes increasingly important from an exclusively commercial point of view that of the context in which the service is used rather than just the service, the type of experience lived rather than its specific attributes.

Newsroom - guys laughing at a group cycle in a wellness club
It is therefore clear that the wellness club itself becomes a point of continuous learning, a learning point of sale, a place where the customer can activate their own experiential process and share with their friends the engagement, defined as the unobservable state of motivation, excitement or interest that can affect in a crucial way the complexity of the entire purchasing process. It is also clear that, in the complexity of the general framework that involves specific technical, psychological, economic and social considerations, the definition of a distribution layout, however functional, is in itself insufficiently effective.
It is the added value of experience that consumers are increasingly asking for and are willing to pay a higher fee, without prejudice to the quality of service. That added value to which architecture contributes through the recognition of a place that responds to a precise and (above all) shared ideal model that often refers to visions spread by the media: a space-stage in which to escape from everyday life by living in a different but possible reality, leisure spaces that are affected by the context of social mobility in which they fit and that produce growing aspirations, fashionable, part of a social movement, attracting customers for the ability to give them an effect of distinction by making them enjoy an accessible privilege.

How to define the image of a wellness club?

Modern values and points of difference and the possibility of distinguishing oneself, of declaring one's status also through the space one uses, is a must. Given these premises, the requirements for the architecture of a wellness club are no longer exclusively performance-related, but above all symbolic, identity-based and experiential.

After brand-name shops, hotels and restaurants, the wellness club space is also called upon to produce experiences that, according to the two most current studies, as a provider of emotions, produces the greatest added value and establishes a new economy (experience economy).

It is the added value of experience that consumers are increasingly asking for and are willing to pay a higher fee, without prejudice to the quality of service. That added value to which architecture contributes through the recognition of a place that responds to a precise and (above all) shared ideal model that often refers to visions spread by the media: a space-stage in which to escape from everyday life by living in a different but possible reality, leisure spaces that are affected by the context of social mobility in which they fit and that produce growing aspirations, fashionable, part of a social movement, attracting customers for the ability to give them an effect of distinction by making them enjoy an accessible privilege.
The ultimate goal of defining the club's image must then be the integration of all the stimuli that reach the member, their involvement in experiences with a high symbolic content that can stimulate them emotionally, physically and intellectually, adding new dimensions to the offerings of products and services. In addition to experience and emotion, the focus seems to be entertainment (for the senses but also for the body), offering an ever new and engaging show within new formats capable of satisfying the consumer, pampering them and offering them a completely personalised world in which to immerse themselves. It is the added value of experience that consumers are increasingly asking for and for which they are willing to pay a higher fee.

It is the added value of experience that consumers are increasingly demanding and are willing to pay a higher fee for.

From the fitness centre to the boutique club

The Concepts or Boutique Clubs are part of this scenario in which the product-service is set in a distinctive context with its own storytelling, a valid tool on which to build a lasting relationship with the end customer.

In conclusion, in the 21st century society defined by the writer Bruce Sterling as a synchronous society (from the ability of the individual to "synchronize" many stories thanks to the tools made available by technology), the strength and potential of a service will no longer be only in its content, but in the ability to create a network of affinities, feelings, perceptions common to its buyers/users. Consumption becomes a generator of sociality, a tool of aggregation.

The Wellness Club is a community of interests, in which ease of interaction and engagement, at the heart of the new business model, must be guaranteed by much more than "merely" functional layouts.

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