Merging an energetic approach to traditional fitness with lifestyle and social interaction has worked out well for Dutch gym concept Vondelgym. The initial success of its hybridism focused offering - the first location in Amsterdam's trendy West garnered over 3000 members - has spilled over into a growing brand with gyms across Amsterdam. It's newest location is also its most premium, located in the heart of Amsterdam's financial district 'de Zuidas'. This third Vondelgym, designed by TANK, further develops the community-based blend of dynamic gym and social hub.
Together with four partners from both the hospitality and sports industries, Dutch TV and fitness personality Arie Boomsma founded Vondelgym with a focus on hybridism. The classes range from high-intensity training and kick-boxing to Pilates and yoga. Social interaction lies at the heart of the concept and the community aspect is suffused through all layers of the experience. The interior is shaped around the belief that large open spaces allow participants to 'feel the energy of the other classes' and that fitness forms part of a lifestyle. Clients put extra care and effort into their health and appearance and expect an equally cared for interior design in the spaces they frequent.
TANK has been involved with the brand and its founders from inception, designing the interiors for the various locations. The interior design concept amplifies the brand experience with a tongue in cheek, yet poetic aesthetic through implementing raw materials in unexpected ways. Repurposed wooden gym floors, gymnastic rings and a paired-down design, that highlights rather than hides installations, translate the concept of an old-school boxing gym to a contemporary urban hub. The blend of warm, hospitality atmosphere with a loft-like industrial urban feel, bypasses the hi-tech and sterile severity of traditional gyms.
The large open space calls for a creative demarcation between social and work-out areas: a graphical, crisp division of the spaces is produced by juxtaposing the warm tones of the social space with the cool, sober ones of the gym area. The open lay-out, brand identity and community concept also mean an aesthetic solution for noise management is needed. Concrete tiles and steel mesh absorb the noise and lessen the intensity of the loud environment.
The Zuidas location forms a bolder, more confident translation of the brand. The newest addition further develops the brand's belief in a more integrated and community-based approach to fitness. It is the first Vondelgym in which the social space is (in part) accessible to non-members. It is also the first Vondelgym without chairs or benches, to encourage a more active stance in downtime as well.
The brand's growth allows for a whimsical riff on the established visual brand language, as through the ring-formed lighting elements and an almost Centre Pompidou-like celebration of the vents and technical installations. In the bar area TANK has implemented the new 'no seating' philosophy through playful use of heavy wooden blocks that can be used for short-time sitting or, indeed, an impromptu work-out. Vondelgym Zuid presents a robust, growing brand that proves fitness is most meaningful when seen as part of a holistic whole.
Photos: Courtesy of TANK