Exclusive: Equinox vice-president Aaron Richter tells CLAD about company's ambitious new fitness-focused hotel brand

I tell our architects that I want people to walk into our spaces and feel a bit like they’re in a temple – not in a religious way but in a spiritual way
– Aaron Richter

Luxury fitness chain Equinox will theme its first hotel/health club hybrids around movement, nutrition and regeneration in an appeal to regular travellers who want to keep fit.

In an exclusive interview, the company’s vice-president Aaron Richter told CLAD that Equinox Hotels – which will open its first branch in New York’s Hudson Yards in 2018 – will implement the core philosophies of its well established fitness clubs to “the art of travel.”

“Movement is something we do very well; we’re renowned for it, and it will be a key focus for our hotels,” he said. “You’ll have access to amazing Equinox health clubs, you’ll be able to tie into local community events, to have a trainer if you want; and you’ll have access to exercise classes. We’re going to take away all the barriers to fitness that come with travel.”

For the Hudson Yards project – which will have a 60,000sq ft (5,600sq m) gym open to guests and Equinox members, several swimming pools and a major spa – the brand is working with designer Yabu Pushelberg. The design concept is rooted in the modern industrial aesthetic used in their clubs – with structural and mechanical systems left exposed – and is described by Richter as “masterful, provocative and inviting.”

“There’s a kind of elegant honesty about the approach to the design that we have respected,” he said. “Within that, we try to make the spaces feel elevated and residential, even though they function as commercial environments. I tell our architects that I want people to walk into our spaces and feel a bit like they’re in a temple – not in a religious way but in a spiritual way. You want to get that ‘Oh!’ moment.

“Historically, health and fitness has been a very internally focused experience – everything facing inwards, there aren’t usually many windows and health clubs often take basement space. Wherever I can, I’m trying to bring nature and natural light.”

Richter argued that Equinox’s understanding of the health club market ­means it’s offering “something fundamentally different” to its hotel competitors, who aim their fitness component at “someone who’s on the road and feels guilty about not working out, rather than someone who’s truly into fitness and is trying to continue their lifestyle.” Healthy food will be offered and tailored to the workout and travel regime of the guest, and disrupters such as light pollution and noise will be removed to maximise the quality of people’s sleep.

In addition to the New York hotel, Equinox is looking to develop up to 74 more, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco and “fitness oriented” cities like Austin, Denver and Seattle. Outside of the US, the company is also in early discussions to open a branch in London.

Equinox Fitness, which launched in 1991, owns 79 health clubs in the US, Canada and the UK and also operates the health club brands SoulCycle, Pure Yoga and Blink Fitness. In 2006, parent company Equinox Holdings was bought by real estate firm Related Companies, which is overseeing the wider Hudson Yards development.

Equinox Fitness  Equinox Hotels  Hudson Yards  hotel design  fitness  architecture  Yabu Pushelberg 
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FEATURE: Interview – Aaron Richter

Luxury fitness chain Equinox will theme its first hotel/health club hybrids around movement, nutrition and regeneration in an appeal to regular travellers who want to keep fit. In an exclusive interview, the company’s vice-president Aaron Richter told CLAD that Equinox Hotels – which will open its first branch in New York’s Hudson Yards in 2018 – will implement the core philosophies of its well established fitness clubs to “the art
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Aaron Richter said Equinox will offer something 'fundamentally different' to its hotel competitiors / Equinox
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