Virgin

Concept: Virgin Active Pure Fitness

Concept: Virgin Active Pure Fitness

Design: Clinic (graphics), Watson Designs (interiors)

Clinic had already collaborated with Virgin on the Virgin Active brand of health-and-fitness clubs in Preston and Leeds, before being asked to come up with a concept for the 20to 30-something-year-old, inner-city market – an audience concerned with looking and feeling good – or as Clinic director Mark Nicholls puts it, ‘get in, get fit, get out, get laid’.

‘There’s a shortage of quality out-of-town sites. Virgin are still going for those, but they also saw an opportunity to go back into towns with an urban health club with a bit of attitude,’ says Nicholls.

‘It’s about pure fitness, there are no pools to confuse them,’ explains Virgin Active marketing manager Louise Holland. ‘It’s very “street” – not for everyone.’

Clinic mooted the names Naked and Raw, but for the new metro version, Virgin stuck with the Virgin Active name and added the Pure Fitness endorsement, which will be implemented first in a 2000m2 site in the basement of a shopping centre in central Manchester.

The design solution was to draw on the funky, industrial warehouse aesthetic of successful New York clubs such as Crunch, combined with sassy graphics and touches of wit.

Working with a £1.5m fit-out budget including equipment, architect and interior design group Watson Designs went for a raw and robust design with concrete walls, and a metal gym floor with heavy-duty rubber matting in the weights area. Graphics, such as locker room directional signs, are sprayed directly onto walls, while others such as ‘raw’ or ‘natural’ are applied over images of people working out.

At the reception, video screens show repetitive images such as ironing or stepping. On the door of each changing room, Clinic projected a video of someone taking a shower in a shower cubicle so that from a distance, it looks like they’re real. For the rest area, Clinic specified a huge park bench on a strip of plastic grass against a wall with the word ‘rest’ on a background of blue sky and white clouds.

Further sites of both the out-of-town and metro fitness concepts are planned.

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