More often than not, gym going is a bleary-eyed pursuit — predawn commutes followed up by when-will-this-treadmill-run-be-over moments.
But architect David Rockwell is trying to give members at Blink Fitness’ new NoHo location a wake-up call with some design flair. Fitness seekers may be surprised to find kindergarten-colored locker rooms, an inspiration-covered wall and a street-front lounge called The Front Porch. The monthly membership fee is another eye-opener — $15 a month for single-club access and $20 for multiclub access with guest privileges. Blink also has sites in Yonkers, N.Y., and Paramus, N.J.
Blink is shooting for first-timers as well as devotees, “since everybody blinks,” according to Dos Condon, vice president of Blink. But a more fitting interpretation of the company’s name might be that most people want to get in and out. That premise seems to be evident in the stash lockers near the entrance, where members can store their belongings without going to the locker room. Newbies can sign up online and swipe their card at the club’s self-serve kiosk to start exercising. And no instruction is needed to do calisthenics or stretch on the Pavigym flooring, color-coded polymer mats made from what is used for running shoes.
Rockwell says, “To foster a sense of ease, welcome and community right from the start, we designed a Front Porch area, which is bright and friendly. You can swipe in through turnstiles, stash your clothes in low lockers, drop off your bags and go workout.”
The absentminded can find workout towels, iPod earbuds, bottled water and other necessities in Human Healthy Vending machines, which donates 10 percent of sales to charities that fight obesity and malnutrition. A wall of “Blinkisms” features cheeky sayings such as “Thanks for blinking, we’re flattered.” — all of which were cooked up by staffers and members. Perforated lockers with red interiors and blue exteriors and the Coach Desk, where members can look up fitness and nutrition information at built-in computers or ask staff questions, are two of Rockwell’s favorite design elements. Another one is the space’s chandelier of clustered hanging lights, he says.
Aaron Richter, vice president of design for Equinox, which owns Blink, notes how “a number of budget-savvy experiences are also now design savvy,” citing Ikea, McDonald’s and Duane Reade’s new prototype stores as examples. “The category was in desperate need for a fresh direction. So many of these facilities seem they are bred from a narrow understanding of design,” he says. “We have found that a welcoming attitude and friendly experience is appreciated — and integral — to any good brand development.”