The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed our approach to health and wellness. It has heighted awareness of our physical and emotional wellbeing and the importance of diet and exercise in helping prevent illness. Going through lockdown has been a difficult experience for everyone but it has given us more time to reflect on our lifestyle choices which has led to a greater adoption of healthy habits.
Exercising at home has become increasingly popular over the last 12 months but there are still many who prefer to go out to the gym and this is likely to increase as people crave the social aspect of working out. As a result, health clubs will play a more important role in a community than ever before.
While the demand for wellness facilities is not new it has taken on a different meaning in light of the current pandemic. Hotels and resorts around the world are taking note and wellness facilities are beginning to look very different. These spaces are moving out of the basement and taking a more central role within the hotel. They are appealing, functional and aesthetically pleasing. They are a design statement.
Designing for wellness rather than fitness requires a holistic approach. It requires particular attention to the arrangement and flow of the spaces and it needs to cater to a broader market segment than the weightlifters who previously occupied these spaces. The key to the design/user experience symbiosis is a sensible operational flow and attractive facilities that addresses the safety of users. It is important to maintain social areas for users to relax and meet friends but these are much more flexible spaces now that can be reconfigured to accommodate social distancing or smaller group gatherings.
Health club facilities vary enormously and the best use of the space is about considering how the design impacts users’ experience. The design of health clubs should be an uncomplicated one that adds to the experience rather than detracting from it.
The design of these facilities must also consider materials and finishes in line with safety protocols and the use of antimicrobial technology and products are going to become the norm going forward and we will see more materials, such as copper and brass which are naturally antimicrobial, being introduced.
We must also bear in mind the rigorous cleaning procedures that are necessary now and in the future and what this means for the sourcing of materials which, not only have to meet the requirements but, are also attractive and offer a range of options for designers.
There is no denying the importance of health clubs as demand for these facilities continues to escalate. Our role as designers of these spaces, therefore, is to safeguard the health and wellbeing of users by creating attractive, functional and safe venues.