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Design for tomorrow’s gyms: Moving beyond the ‘workout’ into the ‘experience’

“Feel well, be well, eat well, train well, move well, relax well – it’s simple and beautifully harmonious.” Step inside The Well, Bondi.

Remember when your mother said that you’d only get one chance at making the right first impression? Well, she was right. In general, we tend to make a judgement within 9 seconds of encountering something (or someone). So the stakes for the first impression are high. We all know that good design can help to create great first impressions – and first impressions are everlasting. But, within a commercial setting, just how critical is good design’s impact potential?

For the fitness and wellbeing industry where the competition is rife and the need for making a great first impression can mean the difference of soaring or dwindling membership numbers, the role that design can play cannot be overstated. ‘Wellbeing’ has definitely been a watchword for 2018, representing the apotheosis of so many strands of contemporary thought coming together: environmental and human ethics, and the global pursuit of health and happiness. 

Within the space of the fitness industry in particular, the market is becoming bigger and therefore more saturated. Fitness providers – gyms and workout facilities, yoga retreats and wellness hubs – are all vying for design strategies with innovative results to ensure greater turnaround on customer attraction and, ultimately, long-term retention. New gym chains, particularly, seem to appear on an almost weekly basis, and differentiation is no easy feat. Where previously a one-size-fits-all approach put gymnasiums in sure footing for several generations inspired by the old gentlemen’s health clubs of yore (think: the Manhattan Athletic Club [founded 1877]), today’s flourishing of new fitness-savvy clientele of all shapes and sizes demand greater nuance and complexity in their workout experience. And why not?! Going to the gym has for too long been thought an unpleasant experience. But as one of the most important investments you can make for your health, shouldn’t the gym experience be a little more … enjoyable? After all, breaking a sweat is hard enough!

For the modern gymnasium, working out is only half the picture. With a range of covetable end of trip facilities that make patrons want to linger well beyond the 20 minute spin class, or with luxurious washroom amenities that would make even the swankiest of spas blush, today’s leading gyms are pushing the ‘brand experience’ and making the pursuit of health and fitness no longer an up-hill slog, but rather moments of activity and respite, refuge, reflection and indulgence.  To achieve a balance between design and function, more and more consideration is given to a facility’s look and feel. Through the manipulation of lighting, music, layout and colour schemes, gyms turn their various spaces into opportunities for maximising user-satisfaction and health. Additionally, technology is evident with the increasing appetite of the average user’s fitness and performance levels, hygiene transparency and virtual membership platforms. With the power of data becoming one of architecture and design’s biggest influencers, this new breed of fitness facilities need to smartly cater for fully integrated software and systems.


Design Meets Wellness: The Well, Bondi


“As I’ve said to people over the last couple of years, wellness is the new black.” – Robby Ingham, co-founder of The Well.


Located in what was formerly occupied by a couple of bars and a set of offices, The Well in Bondi is a 2-storey beachside state-of-the-art wellness centre. As a manifestation of a one-stop-wellness philosophy, The Well offers a range of services with in-house exercise physiologists, nutritionists, therapists, chiropractors and more. The myriad of classes emphasise The Well’s core mantra, ‘health isn’t just about beauty, it’s about how you feel inside, in your body, in your mind and in your heart.’ Using this as a guiding principle for the interior design of The Well, Tom Mark Henry’s design scheme delivers a holistic wellbeing- and commercially-focused solution. As a training environment, The Well’s unusual curvaceous design brings a sense of spontaneity to the otherwise regimented structure of working out. Glass ceilings and generous views make full use of the beachside surrounds, while the ample natural lighting touches upon the current biophilic design thinking that is proving particularly important within wellness-driven design strategies. Transforming both physiological and psychological wellbeing, an enormous tree at the building’s centre is echoed in the abundant use of green tonal schemes throughout, evoking health, relaxation and groundedness in line with recent chromatological  findings on the experience findings of the colour green upon end users.


“Feel well, be well, eat well, train well, move well, relax well – it’s simple and beautifully harmonious.” – Robby Ingham, co-founder of The Well


The material palette, furniture selection and level of natural light all play a vital role in ensuring that ‘feeling good’ goes beyond just an aesthetically pleasing place. And yet, the stunning appearance of The Well often overshadows the high degree of performative design elements at play. Considerations for safety of end users, compliance with advanced hygienic practices and spatial economising with the use of multi-functional furniture items all play a significant role in ensuring that The Wells’ various spaces can be as functional and high-performance as any of the athletic happenings undertaken within. 

Similar to the driving concepts behind The Well, Dyson – a brand generously specified throughout the project in various appliance categories – thrives on creative and collaborative development of products. By specifying Dyson products, the gym provides an environment where health and wellbeing is paramount – transforming into a space that focuses on how people feel mentally, physically and spiritually. Simply put, The Well is a space that seeks to improve the lives of people experiencing it.


The Supersonic Hair Dryer

Among this specification of high-performance furniture, fixtures, fittings and technology is the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer. As one of the oft-spoken about and beloved user amenities offered to The Wells’ patrons, the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer is a superlight-weight, quiet, and chic solution to freshening up post-workout. With a powerful yet tiny motor, the dryer cuts down locker room drying time in half to ensure that The Well can accommodate greater turnaround on daily traffic. The intelligent heat control technology keeps the dryer from getting too hot, so it does not reach damaging temperatures to ensure user safety. High-end engineering and a strict quality control process results in an unconventional product that revolves around a balanced design principles of form meeting function in perfect synthesis.

Airblade V Hand Dryer

Sometimes two things are truly better than one. This is definitely the case for the Airblade V Hand Dryer that combines the latest in appliance technology with the most hygienic solutions for high traffic bathroom environments. This solution avoids the usual experience that users frequently encounter: hand dryers that don’t seem to … well … dry!  Dyson’s Airblade technology removes the need for wasteful paper towels, contributing to The Well’s sustainability goals, while also ensuring the tip-top in hygienic standards for all washroom needs. 

Pure Hot+Cool Purifier Fans

The average indoor environment has up to five times more pollution than the outdoors. Dyson Hot+Cool Purifier Fans automatically detect and capture microscopic airborne pollutants, helping to create a comfortable environment for guests.

CSYS Desk Task Light

CSYS task lights are engineered with 3 Axis Glide motion so guests can precisely position lights where they desire. Located in various rooms, suites and selected communal areas, these lights come with glare control and feature touch-sensitive functions. This way, guests can enjoy optimal lighting to suit their needs and mood.

V8 Absolute Cord-Free Vacuum

Pioneering technologies generate cordless and hassle-free cleaning solutions for multiple uses. The V8 Absolute Vacuum is versatile and deep cleans all surfaces between the floor and ceiling. Not only do these products save up to 40% more storage space – which is a blessing for hospitality settings – but they have also been re-engineered to steer easily into difficult places.


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