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Pop-up Gym to Get You Running Again

Nike’s first running hub in China aims to get Shanghai denizens exercising like never before.

Pop-up Gym to Get You Running Again

Shanghai is infamous for its smog and crowded streets. In short, it’s not an easy city for runners. One can turn to the gym, but with the model of gym design having remained relatively untouched in the city and indeed in most places around the world, many joggers are faced with a lack of inspiring options to stretch their legs.

Nike aims to change all that. As part of its worldwide Nike+ Run Club initiative, the sportswear conglomerate has enlisted the help of COORDINATION ASIA to create two running hubs in Shanghai’s Times Square.

These pop-up gyms are designed to offer participants a full-fledged exercise experience in a comfortable and controlled environment. Each hexagonal-shaped hub can take up to six runners at any one time. The dynamic interior appears extraterrestrial-inspired, media surfaces abound and the treadmills are housed in pod-like zones.

Recalling the brief, Tilman Thurmer, founder and Design Director of COORDINATION Asia, says, “Nike wanted a pop-up gym that communicated the values of the brand and of the Nike+ Run Club in an engaging way. It also had to be tailored to the runner’s needs.”

“We started thinking about the runner and about motivation. Running is about pushing yourself to another level, so the idea came to place them inside a space where you could make them forget that they were still on the ground in downtown Shanghai,” he explains.

According to Thurmer, having the treadmills positioned in a circle as opposed to the typical gym layout of a straight line was also a deliberate attempt to keep runners together and enhance the sense of a running community.

As runners work out in their personal exercise zones, their performance stats are displayed live on screens both inside and on the gym’s exterior façade. Thurmer explains that this is aimed at sparking “curiosity in people walking by” and to serve as a “sort of playful challenge” to fellow runners.

Participants can opt for training sessions with professionals, and there are tech demos and screens that flash Nike communications and motivational messages throughout the day.

These hubs are not just temporary gyms but carry an equal purpose of immersing visitors in a powerful brand experience. When one enters this gym, the busy and chaotic streets drop away and one can focus on the act of jogging, health and exercise, and let’s not forget, the world of Nike too. And maybe they’ll come away a little more inspired to keep on running…

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