With an eye to making fitness a core offer for their members, more clubs are stepping up their games with new facilities that feature streamlined layouts and pleasing aesthetics.
Active lifestyles are an inherent part of club culture, but not reserved exclusively for the golf course or the pool. Full-fledged fitness centers are enticing members to ditch their gym memberships in favor of on-site facilities that offer access to the latest equipment, health-and-wellness programming, and a special brand of camaraderie.
Filling a Void
At Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford, Ore., erecting a fitness center not only filled a void by providing a much-needed amenity, but also gave purpose to otherwise underutilized space on the property.
“Fitness has been a desire among the membership for decades,” says General Manager/COO Thor Damerval. “But where it should be located, and how much it will cost, prevented this desire from becoming a reality—until recently.”
After assessing that nearly 300 of the club’s lockers were not being used, management decided to transform part of the clubhouse’s west wing into a fitness center, family game room and sports pub. The new facility opened its doors this past March.
The space dedicated for fitness is divided into three distinct areas: a 1,400-sq. ft. strength-training room, 850-sq. ft. cardio room, and 750-sq. ft. studio. Studio and cardio rooms are located just off the ladies’ locker room, while free weights are located near the men’s locker room. “Traffic patterns are incredibly important, especially if space isn’t plentiful to help ease the volume,” Damerval notes.
The specific purposes identified for each of the fitness spaces dictated a myriad of design choices and decisions about the materials that would be used. In the strength-training room, rubber flooring was selected, “so that anyone could take any free weight anywhere within that space and perform an exercise without the risk of damaging the floor or overcrowding a designated area within the room,” Damerval explains.
Carpeting in the cardio room helps to muffle the noise of the treadmills and other cardio equipment, while the studio is outfitted with hardwood flooring that is conducive for fitness classes.
Careful attention was also paid to the lighting, with dimming switches that correlate with the mood and activity associated with individual rooms. Customized music in each location follows suit: soothing selections in the studio, soft rock in cardio, and rock/pop music in the strength-training room.
Regardless of the music genre, soundproofing is achieved via soundboard sheet rock, “to help isolate each room’s activity without negatively affecting any other,” Damerval says.
“The west wing of our clubhouse has become one of the busiest areas, and the importance of privacy and noise reduction was an important design emphasis,” he adds.
With three personal trainers on site to manage both one-on-one and group sessions, the space is designed to accommodate workouts and classes of all shapes and sizes. “The fitness programming has become an important part of the club, as members have signed up in droves, reinforcing the membership’s decades-long desire for a fitness center,” adds Damerval.
A Natural Fit
Members of the Blue Ridge Mountain Club in Blowing Rock, N.C., can experience the best of both worlds—indoors and out—as they work out at the property’s new Ascent Wellness and Fitness Center. Completed in November 2017, the facility looks out upon a mountainous terrain, spanning over 50 miles of long-range views that inspire peace and tranquility (see photo, pgs. 24-25)..
“As an outdoor-oriented private mountain community, we wanted to have a fitness and wellness center that allowed members to experience adventure every day, by merging fitness and our unique mountain lifestyle in their daily lives,” says General Manager Jim Pitts.
Comprised of two main exercise facilities, Blue Ridge’s Center houses a 600-sq. ft. movement studio stocked with twelve spin bikes, exercise balls, weights and yoga mats. The 1,500-sq. ft. cardio and weight room, set against the backdrop of the Catawba River Valley, is laid out with assorted equipment positioned directly in front of 11-ft., floor-to-ceiling windows.
Whether using a treadmill, elliptical, leg and arm machines or weights, Blue Ridge’s members have an unspoiled view of the mountains, accentuated by natural light pouring through the windows. Overhead doors let fitness classes extend outside onto the Catawba Point Terrace whenever the weather allows.
Flooring in the movement studio boasts a padded surface for added stability, while carpeting and weight pads cover the floors of the cardio and weight rooms, to minimize the noise. Music is broadcast throughout the fitness center via wireless, hidden speakers. Security cameras that are monitored in nearby administrative offices are also inconspicuously positioned.
Rounding out the fitness amenities are quiet zones, including a 460-sq. ft. lounge and beverage station, dry sauna, men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam showers, and a massage room. The club plans to enhance these extras with an outdoor hot tub and lounge deck with fire pit, Pitts reports.
While the Blue Ridge fitness center is designed to accommodate a variety of classes, such as spinning, circuit training, yoga and Zumba, personal trainers are also welcome for one-on-one instruction. This focus on fitness carries over into wellness programming, from zipline tours and hikes on club trails to cooking demonstrations.
“It’s hard to imagine anything better than ending the day with s’mores and the Blue Ridge Mountain sunsets,” Pitts enthuses.
Expanding the FocusAt the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough, Tenn., golf had always been the prime focus. But all that changed in April 2017 upon the arrival of current General Manager/COO Chris Haley. After meeting with club owners and mapping out a plan for new capital projects, management opted for a facility dedicated to wellness.
“Knowing that our footprint and the layout of our clubhouse would not allow us to add fitness anywhere, I recommended that we build an addition to the tennis center and dedicate that space to fitness,” Haley explains. This past January, Blackthorn’s new 16,800-sq.-ft. Indoor Tennis and Fitness Center, with 2,400 sq. ft. reserved for fitness and related amenities, was unveiled.
In the main fitness room, gym goers have access to a variety of equipment, including two bikes, three treadmills, two ellipticals, and two weight benches and dumbbell sets and machine ball racks. In the studio room, a suspension training system with five trainers includes an assortment of accessories for members to use individually or during group classes.
A streamlined, no-nonsense design includes high-grade laminate flooring, dimmable LED panel lighting and lightweight, glassless mirrors on the walls. “From an accessibility standpoint, we foresee our members using the fitness center for physical therapy in the future,” notes Haley.
Rounding out the space is a 500-sq. ft. lounge area that includes modular seating, counter-height seating and an honor bar containing light snacks and beverages. “It’s a perfect spot to relax after a workout between tennis matches,” Haley says of the family-friendly space. “Kids can hang out and do homework, and parents can curl up with a good book during junior clinics or watch television.”
Because the fitness space was intentionally designed as a blank slate, the flexible layout can accommodate wellness trends as they emerge—a plus that management expects to prove valuable within the ever-changing fitness landscape. “Even in the existing space, we have the ability to add more equipment based off of member feedback,” notes Haley. “In our opinion, it was prudent to begin with the basics and then continue to add in different pieces as the need develops.”
In the meantime, Blackthorn members are content with the current roster of classes that range from “Mats and Margaritas” to Couples’ Yoga. They also have the ability to bring in their own personal trainer and use the facility at their own pace.
“Because Blackthorn didn’t have any fitness offerings before this, we are seeing many of our members dropping gym memberships they have elsewhere, as their needs are now met by our offerings,” says Haley.
To boost its high-performing fitness center for an especially active membership, the facility at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla. underwent a redesign last December.
According to General Manager/COO Craig Martin, St. Andrews “needed to reallocate and expand [the facility] to allow for a new layout with better configuration, creating improved efficiencies to better handle the high volume.” With updates to equipment, décor and furnishings, unutilized space was given new life and purpose, via a refreshed layout that maximizes the member experience.
Assuming the largest space in the center is a 5,000-sq. ft. cardio area, well-stocked with 47 pieces of cardio equipment, 18 strength-training machines, three stationary bikes and other machines. The 400-sq. ft. spin room has been updated with a stadium platform, 15 power bikes and an 84-inch screen for watching videos and playing music.
New additions include a Pilates studio containing reformers, tower units, chairs and benches, along with a mind-body yoga studio and 350-sq. ft. wellness meditation room. “By adding [the studio], we were able to offer more classes at a variety of convenient times for our members,” notes Martin.
Also of note is the 700-sq. ft. “stretch zone” featuring 12 stretch beds, stretch cage, foam rolling equipment and stretching straps. Moving the stretching tables into their own area freed up 400 square feet on the gym floor. In addition, relocating the center’s check-in desk made it possible to use a back stairwell as an entrance—a modification that Martin says has improved both the overall look and functionality of the center.
Décor and accent choices carefully balance practicality with visually pleasing aesthetics. Chandelier-style lighting welcomes members at the reception desk, in the main entrance, and in the Pilates and mind-body studios. Meanwhile, the gym space was updated with LED dimmable fixtures and LVT flooring with padding.
With an uptick in early-morning fitness-center visits, extra attention has also been given to the club’s Courtside Café breakfast menu. Healthy options now include homemade smoothies and protein bowls for gym goers inside or in the outdoor lounge area. “Members utilize both areas daily before and after working out,” says Martin. “It is a central gathering and socializing area in the mornings.”
Going Green at the Gym
For eco-conscious club managerS and members, exercising is not only useful for shedding pounds, but trimming dollars off operations costs. According to a recent CBS news report, The Source Health Club is Missoula, Mont., recently invested in green, eco-powered treadmills that are converting people power and returning it to the grid.
As gym goers use the treadmills, they are able to generate approximately 200 watts an hour to help offset about 10 percent of the facility’s overall power usage. According to the report, these club members are excited about helping their gym become more sustainable—and playing an important part in saving the planet.