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UKAA Webinar: BTR – Fitness & Wellbeing trends plus the importance of wellness amenity design Presented by Educated Body

Tuesday 6th April 2021

Following on from a number of earlier collaborations with the UKAA, including last November’s Festival of Build to Rent Conference, Educated Body talks here about fitness and wellbeing trends and the importance of design.

In this webinar Educated Body covers the following burning topics:

  • The increased demand for Wellbeing Facilities in BTR
  • How to maximise Wellbeing Engagement, Community and Commitment
  • Fitness and Wellbeing Trends what’s hot and what’s not during COVID and beyond.
  • Understanding how architecture enhances the user experience.
  • Defining the User Experience
  • Key Interior Design Elements
  • Common Mistakes to Avoid



Phillippa Hardman – CEO and Founder Educated Body

Stavros Theodoulou – Design Director, RCH Design







Webinar write-up

Phillippa opened up drawing a parallel with the growing BTR sector and the Fitness Sector. Both sectors are experiencing rapid growth. Using research from Public Health England, Phillippa highlighted the impact COVID has had on people’s desire to change their lifestyles with 70% saying they wanted to get healthier following an England-wide survey. The knock-on demand will be felt in BTR as their fitness facilities get busier and are in higher demand.

Looking at the wider health club membership picture post COVID, not everyone who was previously a gym member will return and some clubs are expected to open with approximately half the members they had at the start of the pandemic. Some clubs will close. Despite this start point, 76% of members said they would return immediately with a further 21% saying they would return after three months, so there may be a fast recovery to come.

Some of the reason health club members will stay away is COVID related, but a big part of it is changing consumer habits. During lockdown the fitness industry pivoted to provide its services online. There was an acceleration in virtual fitness services. There was an increase in running and cycling outdoors and an increase in home workouts. Much of this will stay. Phillippa talked about the need for a “hybrid” approach that blends the physical in club experience with the digital. Phillippa introduced a new word into our vocabulary that beautifully describes this as a new “PHYGITAL AGE!”

Phillippa also emphasised the importance of mindfulness and mental health in 2021 and beyond, something that has received welcome publicity in the wake of COVID.

Specifically with reference to BTR, Phillippa talked about how wellbeing facilities can attract and retain customers, support ROI and net rental income. However, she emphasised that to do this BTR needs to look at specific customer demographics across the spectrum of Millennials, Gen X and Boomers. Fitness has changed and BTR must acknowledge this and recognise fitness is higher up the shopping list for renters than it was even one year ago.

In conclusion, Phillippa suggested the BTR sector look closely at fitness and wellbeing and what is on trend. From a physical perspective, getting the gym space “right” is essential as the customer is now much more discerning. Use an expert and follow their advice. Finally, any solution must include a sustainability goal.

Stavros began his section of the webinar talking about the importance of defining the user experience. All buildings are different and need a bespoke solution.

He talked about brand personality and being able to differentiate your offering from the next.

From a practical perspective, he commented on the importance of physical space allocation and the relationships between spaces and transition points. He also discussed designing in “long term appearance”.

Stavros talked about the customer journey, operational ease and the important statement a “sense of arrival” can make.

The next section of Stavros’ talk covered specific interior design elements and referred to changes in consumer demands post COVID. He covered elements such as lighting, hubs and touchpoints, materials, audio visual, music and contactless solutions.

Stavros’ final section looked at “common mistakes” and how to avoid them. An incredibly useful and practical part of the presentation covering acoustics, poor lighting, wet and dry crossover issues, the wrong use of materials, poor M&E design, and lack of storage. He even covered everyone’s favourite topic the “towel strategy!”


For more information contact Phillippa at Educated Body ph@educatedbody.com




To view the slides from the webinar please click here: Educated Body & RCH Design – Wellbeing & Fitness Amenities UKAA BTR Presentation


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