Sales of home fitness gear surged over the past year and a half as many of us skipped the gym to work out from home. The home fitness equipment market is projected to hit almost $15 billion by 2028. But how do consumers choose which products to buy amid so much competition—especially when some items, like Peloton bikes and Mirror systems, cost more than $1,000, not including membership fees?
CLMBR Connected, a Jay-Z and Pitbull-backed vertical climbing machine that offers on-demand, instructor-led classes on a large touch-screen display at home, has a counterintuitive proposal: an in-person gym. To give people a taste of that sweet workout-induced bliss (and to persuade them that the price tag is worth it), the company recently opened a showroom in Cherry Creek, an affluent neighborhood of Denver, that is part fitness studio, part retail outlet.
Opening a fitness studio to promote a home-workout machine in the middle of a pandemic might not make a lot of sense. But according to Noah Waxman, head of strategy at the experiential design studio Cactus, which designed the showroom, people still crave shared experiences. “It’s more fun to do things together with other people,” Waxman says.
To that end, the fitness studio has a spectacular design feature that can’t be replicated at home: an interactive ceiling installation that syncs to the beat of the music and puts on a light show worthy of a Vegas resort. “By controlling the light, we can control the entire mood,” says Marcelo Pontes, Cactus’s head of architecture.
The ceiling—and the infinite moods it allows—is made up of hundreds of light panels that can be customized via a tablet given to the instructor. Light patterns range from preset templates like “solar flare” or “pulse” to completely personalized scenes that can plunge the room into a calming blue haze, then blast the red lights when it’s time to get going again.
The ceiling draws from the studio’s work on Cubic Sky, a similar light display that’s been installed in hotel lobbies and nightclubs. In fact, the design of Denver’s CLMBR showroom was inspired by nightclubs and music venues—”places where groups of people share these euphoric experiences,” Waxman says.
In a larger sense, the showroom is also about a creating an “immersive, full-body, full-mind experience” akin to that publicized by SoulCycle and its cult-like following, Waxman says. It’s a form of advertising for the machine (which costs $2,800, plus a monthly $40 fee for a larger touchscreen and on-demand library)—a tangible experience designed to get you so hooked, you end up taking one home. “We see architecture as a tool to spark an experience,” he says. “Our design goal is to make sure we can create a memory to recover later [at home].”