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  • Susan Yardley

Collective Insights on the evolution of Spa & Fitness in a Post-Covid World

As the world adapts to the new normal following the recent global health crisis and its ensuing economic effects, health, spa, and fitness have never been more important. But how will our industry evolve as a result of the pandemic? We posed this question and gathered expert insights from a few of our platform members, and in this post, we spotlight some of the emerging challenges and opportunities for spa & fitness in a post-COVID world.

Design & Architectural Considerations

The last twelve to eighteen months have seen the widespread adoption of physical distancing measures as a vital tool for protecting ourselves and the people around us during Covid-19. Operators in the wellness and health industries are now faced with the challenge of permanently adapting their spaces to keep their staff and guests safe. Many guests will now be more mindful of selecting locations with adequate room for physical distancing, so how can we provide these safe spaces without sacrificing the guest experience and profitability?

One solution could come from a collaborative approach with involvement from equipment manufacturers, designers, and operators to ensure facilities are designed & purpose-built with these elements in mind. For the millions of facilities already operating, this approach can also be integrated when planning for the future, be it CAPEX, refurbishments, or equipment updates. Operators can, and should, be receiving support & guidance from their suppliers on how to get the most out of their space, allowing design and business models to be as adaptive and resilient as each other.

Public health considerations certainly have the potential to shape design trends moving forward. Simple solutions which are readily available such as RFID-activated doors and lockers, sensor-activated faucets, and hand dryers could become standard in spa & fitness facilities, even in the back of house areas, allowing staff to maintain enhanced sanitation levels.

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of airflow in our spaces. From reception areas and hallways to changing and treatment rooms, indoor air is up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and with this in mind, some experts believe that air purification would be a valuable addition to spa and fitness facilities. Development budgets would benefit from allocating sufficient funds to HVAC systems with individual controls that ensure return and supply air is separate from other rooms, limiting cross-contamination.

How else might our awareness of public health impact the design of our wellness spaces moving forward? One possibility is that proprietors may do away with carpets and wallpaper in favor of more easily disinfected materials, such as tiles, stone, and wood. While bringing the outside-in has been a long time trend in spa & wellness, outdoor spaces for certain wellness activities may now have greater appeal for guests.

The Platform Studios Dubai. A project YP Business Consulting has been involved in since its inception. The group of studios has won “Boutique Studio of the Year” three times in a row. (UAE Fit Awards)

Well-Tech vs Human Touch in Operations

Interest in and adoption of wellness-related technologies has dramatically accelerated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. From touch-free interactions and online check-ins to VR experiences and telehealth solutions, both trusted and emerging technologies have the potential to change our spa experiences beyond recognition.

One area that could be especially impacted by this trend is the front of house. With a rise in online booking solutions, virtual check-in, and consultation forms, many facilities may now be able to operate without a reception team. The hands-free technology available to our industry such as relaxation pods, the aforementioned VR, and even the classic DIY rasul chambers, could make it possible for spas or fitness centers to have dedicated 'self-service' spaces within their facilities. That being said, it remains to be seen what effect these potentially isolating solutions will have on the guest experience.

Beyond our in-house spa experiences, the development and adoption of new technologies are changing the way that many consumers seek health and wellness solutions in their own homes. While a decrease in air travel saw wellness tourism heavily impacted by the pandemic, the growing prevalence of working from home means that many individuals are searching for wellness solutions that they can access remotely.

Search data released by Pinterest shows a marked increase in searches around mental wellness and self-care, with many users seeking new ways to combat the negative effects of living through a global crisis. How might these shifting priorities impact our industry going forward and how can we begin to incorporate these consumer concerns into our offerings? Human connection is the absolute foundation of our industry, and so many are questioning whether at-home solutions and hands-free DIY services will ever be as effective as the 'real thing'? After all, our industry is one driven by emotion. People seek out spas, salons, fitness & wellness because they want to feel a certain way, and loyalty is given to the places, and people, who help them to achieve those.

Touch, technology & wellness at home...

Share Your Experiences

There's no doubt that this pandemic has presented a range of emerging issues and challenges for our industry, and as we move forward, coming together to collectively learn, grow, and change will be our greatest asset. Share your experience and insights about the issues faced and let us know how your business is innovating to emerge from the pandemic stronger and healthier than ever.

Join the conversation and subscribe for more insights from industry experts.

A special Thank You to our community vendors who collaborated on this piece sharing their valuable insights, experience, and innovative ideas:

Yves Preissler,

Patricija Miklusiene,

Sonja Sorich,

Claire Way,

If you would like support from industry experts in assessing the individual needs of your business, reach out to any of the experts in our vendor directory who specialize in Operations & Business Consulting or Architectural & Interior Design.

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