"Gym design is marketing first and a tool of sales and seduction potentially moving prospect to buy into your Brand".
I say potentially as gym developers take a dissociative position in the development of their brands. There is a sort-of-kind-of-gym-aesthetic-design-theory that permeates the fitness industry which leads to generally nice design, honesty executed and (at times) shrewdly marketed - consider the advertising strategies of Planet Fitness and Equinox, bravo to them.
The dissociative feature I'm speaking of is the "missed target" of the individual brand identity, the brand's concept. We have blurring of like aesthetics (aka better sameness), the re-incantation of content mantras ("state of the art equipment"), the ceaselessly reoccurring abstract swishing running man or woman logo, and lack of design features which telegraph fitness, theater, power or kinetic energy (the boutique design trend [to be covered in a future post] is perhaps the most insidious facilitator of the gym design disconnect).
The phenomena is prevalent in every club pricing tier. The big box clubs and the luxury gyms each have their own design challenges, though I believe the biggest branding battle is for the middle market models. The point is, there is room and a customer for every developer's facilities. The key to design longevity, sustainability and market dominance is to dissociate your aesthetics from your competitors and find your own brand identity that reflects your business model and vision.