Health club design can 'aid retention by alleviating the pain of exercise'

The environment has a massive effect on the imagination and can literally overwhelm the negativity of a hard workout
– David Barton

Health club design can play a crucial role in improving member retention – partly by making exercisers "forget" about pain and feelings of discomfort during training.

Speaking to HCM, US-based gym owner and designer David Barton describes design as a crucial element of a successful health club.

“Ultimately, we’re selling something people don’t like," Barton explains.

"There are lots of ways to get people in on day one, but how do we make them want to come back tomorrow, when they like the outcome, but not the process?

"All of their senses will be working to compete with their pain receptors, because they are in an unfamiliar environment, so we use design, lighting, technology and exercise science to create the ultimate setting and emotional experience.

"The goal should be to create the impression that they’ve entered into another world, a world so enticing it competes with the potential negative; the process of exercise itself.”

According to Barton, the increasing popularity and demand for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes has also become a challenge – as the hard-going HIIT sessions can trigger the fight or flight survival response in those taking part.

He says that design can play an important role in suppressing those feelings.

“The environment has a massive effect on the imagination and can provide an experience so positive that it literally overwhelms the negativity of a hard workout," he says.

Barton was speaking to HCM as part of an article on retention, published in the June issue of HCM. To read the full article, click here.

David Barton  HIIT 
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Health club design can 'aid retention by alleviating the pain of exercise'
Health club design can play a crucial role in improving member retention – partly by making exercisers "forget" about pain and feelings of discomfort during training.