28 Oct 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
Sign up for FREE ezine

Health Club Management
2021 issue 3

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Personal space


Personal space

Changing rooms have been largely closed during the pandemic, but as clubs open up, how will ongoing pandemic restrictions impact changing room design? We ask the experts for their observations and reflections

It’s important for all facilities to have a layout that’s flexible, says Safe Space’s Gregg Rumble photo: Lucky Business/shutterstock

Gregg Rumble
Safe Space Lockers

The challenge for any gym is how best to maximise space, and so the trade-off with increasing the size of changing facilities might be reducing the available space for F&B, which may then impact secondary spend or even reduce space on the gym floor, so maximising the existing changing space will be important.

Ultimately, changing room trends will be led by the whole gym experience; we’ll see a smarter use of space and more consideration given to layout that encourages social distancing and a shift away from tightly packed changing facilities, to ensure members feel safe and comfortable.

We’ve seen some operators adapt their space to restrict access to certain lockers, vanity units, benches, toilet cubicles, etc, to help manage social distancing, however this is more difficult to implement in smaller changing rooms.

Cubicles enforce social distancing, however they’re confined spaces with more surface area, so require thorough cleaning.

Ideally each cubicle would be sanitised after use and before another member occupies it, however this can be difficult for staff to manage and puts more responsibility on members.

We’re seeing more use of tech – using contactless via a mobile app to secure lockers is one example, and a way of reducing contact with surfaces.

We’re yet to experience a significant shift in how operators are designing their changing rooms. I think a key reason for this is the unknown in terms of how the pandemic will progress.

It’s important for any new facility to have a gym design and layout that’s flexible and can be adapted – we’ve seen this with existing spaces – gyms are putting in temporary measures to help manage social distancing and keep members safe, while still providing a quality of service and experience that encourages them to return. New changing facilities should be no different.

We’ll see a smarter use of space and more consideration given to layouts that encourage social distancing
Spencer Grimwood
Crown Sports Lockers

Our belief is that once the vaccination rollout is completed by summer, operators will return to ‘business as usual’ regarding changing room provision. To the best of our knowledge, our key clients in the health club sector are not planning longer-term redesigns of their changing room layouts.

We introduced one or two adjustments to our changing room designs to aid social distancing when the first lockdown was announced, such as reducing the number of hairdryer points at a vanity station and increasing the distance between the freestanding benches and lockers to improve people flow and minimise pinch points.

Given the strictures and business impact of lockdown, operators will want to welcome guests and members in numbers that will help redress their bottom lines as quickly as possible, in accordance with government guidelines.

As lockdown lifts, these factors may prevail over current social distancing measures, especially if vaccine passports are introduced and users gain greater confidence about proximity to others.

Looking ahead I think locking systems will be one of the main focus points. Rather like attitudes to coinage, are customers going to want to touch a key that has been handled by lots of others to secure their locker?

Several of our clients are looking to change to RFID locks, which can be operated by the customer’s membership card, wrist band or mobile device. These types of locks are also easier to keep clean for the operator.

Operators will want to welcome guests and members in numbers that will help redress their bottom lines as quickly as possible
Operators will return to ‘business as usual’ once the vaccine rollout is completed, predicts Spencer Grimwood / photo: Lucky Business/shutterstock

Originally published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 3

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd