The consumer has changed. Millennials are more demanding users. They want to feel part of a strong digital “tribe”, in order to establish meaningful relationships. They expect a powerful value proposition both outside and inside the gym. They want to pay only for what they use. The traditional structure of payment for fixed memberships has given way to a “pay as you workout” model.

The rejection of monotony and the search for unique experiences demands the need for expert trainers focused on specific activities. It is no longer just about exercising, but having memorable and social experiences. Cycling, HIIT, functional training, fitboxing, personal training, zumba, meditation and yoga are easy to understand concepts with a common objective: Work your body, mind and emotion.

The British and American markets are the most mature, with concepts such as the exclusive fitness boutique studio, taking 40% of the entire offer in New York, for example.

Daily training, concentrated in short periods of time, is dependent on what was done during the day – the hours of sleep, what we eat, the level of glucose or cholesterol… Our “chief digital trainer” will have access to all the data through “wearables” or sensors that we will wear over or even under the skin.

The new model of fitness boutiques are focused on a specific market niche. They offer social spaces, retail spaces and bars with healthy products, all in line with new lifestyle trends.

They are training for small groups of people in 45-60 minute sessions, in cool, lively spaces with music and lights. They are small spaces in which to meet, mingle, work, have fun and compete. Leisure, work, health and communication are mixed. Apart from the personalized treatment of the consumer, which is part of a new status, the Look & Feel of the interior is very important. This is defined in the strategy prior to design.

Technology now permits the lines between fantasy and reality to be interwoven. Our avatar is as real as we are. Immersive reality glasses, cardio and weight machines that store the energy generated, virtual money earned through physical exercise, omnidirectional treadmills for 360º movement, gloves and haptic suits… these are all now a reality.

Technology is necessary because the user requires it. It will become an integrated part of the consumer’s experience, rather than one which is superimposed, thereby acting as more of a “constructive material” than defined space. This is produced both by the tangible and real, with textures, colours, smells, and digital interaction. It is designed from the beginning of the value chain in both worlds to make the border between both disappear.

Is it the end of the classic gym? Why not design the gym boutique as a small capsule integrated into a macro space? Maybe innovation is not in its extinction, but in its transformation.

Miquel Àngel Julià, architect

Strategy and Design Director Nuklee

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