The Nuances Behind Private Club Locker Room Design

Locker Room. It is a term that seems simple enough, describing a room where sports players change clothes or store clothing and equipment in lockers. At the core, this is a true definition in the case of private clubs as well, but the term can be applied to a variety of uses. Is it a locker room for golfers, tennis players, or fitness and spa users? How about families using the pool? Does it offer full-length lockers, half-lockers, or day lockers? While members enjoying recreational amenities at a club need a simple place to store their belongings, the design for each activity can vary drastically to create just the right environment for members using them—or at least it should.

Traditional Golf Lockers Evolve

Typically found in the main clubhouse, golf-oriented locker rooms are most common in private clubs and date back the farthest. After all, most golf and country clubs were founded on the basis of playing golf. Often located near the Pro Shop, Turn and/or 19th Hole dining facility, these locker rooms were designed to include ample full-length, wooden lockers with the member’s name engraved on the outside. At one time, this made sense for gentlemen needing to store their sport coats and more formal attire while they played golf, knowing they had a dinner reservation scheduled for later that evening.

Today, clubhouse locker rooms strike a balance of efficiency, functionality and comfort. On the one hand, the modern golfer is more spontaneous and may only need the locker room as a quick changing area. If they are spending the entire day at the club, it is more likely that they plan to meet their family for a casual dinner in the evening, rather than a planned event that requires a more formal dress code. This has led to locker room design that boasts a combination of full-length lockers and half-length lockers.

As Chambers’ Director of Interior Design and Principal Charlie Turner notes, “This combination of full and half lockers reduces the square footage needed for lockers themselves, making room for added amenities like a lounge area, refreshment station or spa-like amenities like a sauna.” In fact, modern locker rooms often have lounge areas with comfort stations that offer light refreshments and soft seating areas with televisions. This creates an experience that encourages conversation among members even in the locker room. Because on the other hand, members still want the time they spend in the locker room to be comfortable.

And some clubs even take it a step further by providing additional features that draw members in. Whirlpools, saunas, and steam rooms, for instance, serve as attractive incentives for membership. In some cases, locker rooms may even house dedicated massage rooms to enhance the overall member experience. While changing clothes or freshening up after a game of golf might be the primary purpose of a locker room, these extra amenity offerings add a sense of luxury.

Recreational Locker Rooms Emerge

Just as the industry is seeing the growing popularity of amenity buildings that cater specifically to recreational needs, so too are we seeing the emergence of locker areas and changing rooms designed specifically with recreation in mind. In the past, pool buildings have been the most common recreational facility to have this type of functionality but have often been utilitarian and underwhelming.

Today, modern pool locker rooms are equipped with wet areas with showers, as well as dry areas for quick changes, family restrooms, and family changing rooms that ensure parents can comfortably transition their children between locker room activities and aquatic recreation. These facilities typically feature day lockers, which are unassigned and smaller in size to store a minimal number of belongings for the day.

Day lockers are also appropriate in fitness and spa areas for similar reasons. They offer small, convenient storage areas while members utilize the strength and cardio equipment, participate in an exercise class, or enjoy a spa treatment. In the case of group exercise classes like yoga, these facilities may also be equipped with cubby areas to hold shoes and small personal items for the short duration of the class.

Amenity buildings may also warrant more substantial locker rooms with half lockers. While these remain unassigned, they have a greater capacity to hold more belongings and can serve multiple recreational uses, such as fitness and racquet sports. “Any time we can design a space that serves multiple functions is a win-win at a private club,” says Turner. “Just as some dining and function rooms serve multiple uses for events at the clubhouse, recreational locker rooms can be centrally located and serve multiple amenities to create more convenience for members.”

Aesthetics and Materiality

As with the design of any other space in a private club, the purpose and functionality drive the aesthetic selections and materiality. Locker room design offers a plethora of material choices. When deciding on the ideal locker material for your facility, start by considering the aesthetic experience you want to offer users to help narrow down your options. In the main clubhouse, for instance, warm wood tones are often still most desired for primary locker rooms. Recreational facilities, however, require durable materials that can withstand frequent usage by a greater number of members while still maintaining a luxurious feel.

Materials and finishes for recreational lockers in pool and fitness areas are much more elevated than in the past, making the whole experience more refined and personal. “The key is to again strike the right balance of function and aesthetics,” notes Turner. “We need to choose materials that will be durable for high-traffic pool and fitness areas without looking utilitarian and uninviting.” This sentiment applies to lockers as well as flooring, fixtures, and ambiance-enhancing lighting.

“The key is to again strike the right balance of function and aesthetics… to choose materials that will be durable for high-traffic pool and fitness areas without looking utilitarian and uninviting.”

At the same time, materials must also be selected for safety. In wet areas, for instance, moisture-resistant materials are essential. Showers should be constructed with durable materials and waterproof membranes to withstand heavy usage, and tiles must have the appropriate coefficient of friction to prevent slips. Proper construction details and mechanical systems must be coordinated to remove moist air and prepare for the longevity of the space.

All in all, designing locker rooms entails careful attention to detail. Locker rooms have become spaces that not only facilitate personal hygiene and dressing but also prioritize the comfort, convenience, and camaraderie found in private clubs. Addressing these key components ensures the creation of aesthetically pleasing, functional, and safe environments, designed to enhance the overall member experience and cater to the diverse needs of fitness and recreational club members.

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