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2023 Fitness Industry Design Trends

The beginning of each year brings to the world the opportunity to dream and to create new opportunities. There are a lot of changes happening individually and in businesses. 

The fitness and wellness industry is not an exception to the rule.  It is good to point out that the industry will continue to recover and grow – and  continue to move beyond COVID. Bruce Carter, the Founder, and CEO of Optimal Design Systems International share design trends to watch for in 2023. 


Social distancing design update.

During COVID, many designers in a variety of industries, such as hospitality, retail, and restaurants, were predicting new permanent design parameters, such as layouts that allow for social distancing, would be here to stay. Fortunately, that fever has waned, so health clubs in 2023 will not have to think about keeping all equipment and furniture 6 feet apart. However, cramming as much as possible into a space is a thing of the past. Also, for all new builds or renovations, it would be wise to incorporate new mechanical systems that provide for safer/cleaner air, so that if a COVID like situation ever happened again, a club could quickly communicate that it already has air filtration systems in place.

Rising construction costs.

In 2022, construction costs were up 20 percent to 30 percent due to inflation and material shortages from COVID-related issues. Costs likely will not decrease in 2023 and may even increase. It takes a collaboratively focused effort by owners, architects/designers and contractors to get more for fewer dollars. Solutions include prioritizing what expenditures are more needed than others, especially those that will have a direct impact on sales and retention. In addition, you can minimize custom items in your design. Also, it is more important than ever to get competitive bids from contractors with a track record of building projects that come in on budget. Detailed plans make for a better bidding process and will minimize change orders. Owners need to stress to contractors to have a solid lead time awareness on construction materials, lighting and finishes.

Recovery offerings.

Recovery options will continue to grow in 2023 focusing on physical, mental and spiritual health. Space for stretching and cooling down is a must, but other options, such as hydro massage, cold therapy (in the form of pools, chairs, or cryotherapy units), relaxation pods, red light therapy, IV therapy, compression sleeves, and even massage guns, will increasingly find their way into clubs. More club operators will add separate income-producing recovery areas. In adding a recovery space, it is best to make a focused design commitment (400 square feet or more) that has a beautiful and soothing “spa-like” environment. Specialty lighting, sound-insulated walls and semi-privacy between units, such as panels or sheer curtains, are recommended.

Continued rebirth of strength training.

2023 will see a continued rebirth of strength training and functional training. Cardio is strong, but usage is down. Machines are and will always be popular, but free weights, multipurpose power racks, platforms and multi-purpose cable units are growing in popularity, especially among Generation Z and Millennials. And within this 18- to 40-year-old group, women will be using free weights and racks more than ever. So this continued trend offers an opportunity for new club design and renovations. More space for these areas is a good idea even if it may mean less space for cardio and machines.

Free weight and functional training areas should no longer be just a space in the back of the club but should be “wow” spaces. Combining spaciousness, dynamic lighting, accented flooring, eye-catching branding, large graphics and specialized finishes will make your facility more competitive and in demand in your marketplace. This applies to larger clubs and smaller studios.

Unisex locker/bathroom areas.

Unisex locker/ bathroom areas have been gaining popularity in smaller studios and will find their way into larger clubs in 2023. A common locker area combined with private bathrooms, showers and changing rooms saves space, rent costs and construction dollars. It also provides even more privacy with private bathrooms and changing rooms. The key is to make the area attractive and easily visible.

Dramatic lighting.

More focus on LED lighting will be a growing trend for clubs. Lighting is the single biggest design change in club environments and can add drama, excitement and even relaxation. Lighting options include cove, colored, theatrical, pendants, sconces and LED strip lighting. Always install them with a dimmer so the light levels can be controlled as desired.

Instagrammable “selfie” walls.

One thing that Gen Z and Millennials love is social media posting. Make sure to have your brand and name as a key part of a very visible Instagrammable wall — maybe a neon club name. If you do this, it will get used and add to your marketing.

2023 is a pivotal year for clubs. People are still needing healing from COVID because the fear, stress and lack of physical activity during COVID linger. Therefore, opportunities abound for club operators to create environments that are welcoming, exciting and inspirational.

Want to discuss your project with an experienced health club designer? Call 954.888.5960 or Schedule Free Consultation

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