A key element of owning a studio is making the space hospitable, somewhere that clients will look forward to going both for the workout, and for the welcoming vibes they receive upon walking in the front door. The latest IBIS World Report on Gym, Health and Fitness clubs estimated that there will be more than 34,540 exercise facilities in the country by year’s end. Now more than ever, studio owners and managers need to bring their A-game to every facet of the business—especially when it comes to your space’s aesthetics and branding. Even if you don’t have a big budget for renovation, there are plenty of ways to make your studio feel custom to your brand and inviting.
WARM AND WELCOMING
One easy way to win over clients is to make them feel both like a special guest and at home in your space. Never underestimate the ROI of offering free fruit or water bottles in your lobby area. It doesn’t take much time or money to keep a fresh supply of both, and just the sight of a bowl overflowing with green apples, bananas or clementines will brighten your clients’ day. (Tip: If there’s a fruit that ties in with your brand’s color, even better!) A jug of iced water with fresh lemons is another touch students will appreciate (and one you can easily replenish). The key here is to be consistent. If you’re going to offer fresh fruit, do so everyday as your clients will come to expect—and depend—on it being there, and you don’t want to let them down.
Overhead lighting is clearly a must in a place of exercise, but consider adding some additional illumination in the form of table lamps (the front desk is a good spot for this), chandeliers or pendant lights. You don’t have to break the bank here! Stores like Ikea, Cost Plus World Market and Pier One all have a wide variety of affordable options that are sure to warm up what can sometimes be a sterile environment.
Other ways to amp up the hospitality include floral arrangements, scented candles, and rustic, natural elements in your space. A vase full of sunflowers or towering bamboo branches is a homey addition to the front desk or bathroom. Burning a scented candle warms up a space (just be sure you have a staffer monitoring it at all times). Consider installing some rustic elements wherever possible—exposed brick as a backdrop to your workout space, reclaimed wood lining your juice bar counter, brushed metal racks in the retail section, beadboard ceilings, floating raw wood shelves, framed chalkboards or subway tile back splash in the bathrooms are all custom design components that will go a long way in making your studio feel authentic and stylish.
BRING IN YOUR BRAND
As much as you want a clean, welcoming space, you also want your clients to remember where they are. This is when you need to get creative with customization to zhush up a blank space. Tease your brand in tasteful areas around the studio where clients will take notice, but won’t find it ostentatious. Vinyl decals are an easy way to showcase your logo on the front desk or locker room doors. Etsy is a treasure trove for customizable business decals at a variety of price points, whether you want your logo, company name, or inspirational quotes large enough to cover an entire wall.
Beyond that, look to your brand’s color for more subtle tie-ins. If your studio’s logo is an eye-catching hue (like neon orange or hot pink), think carefully when it comes to customizing your studio space. You don’t want to paint all the walls bright pink, for example. One wall could work, or go with a neutral color palette and install a hot pink sofa in the lobby. Or paint the pillars in the workout room pink. Or stock pink weights, mats and hand towels in a white bookcase. If you rely on a clean palette of greys, creams, black and white, and use your signature color as an accent throughout the space, it will allow your brand to resonate more strongly with your clients without overwhelming.