A Unique Fitness Experience
When people commit to a contract for something whether it is a car, a cell phone (or in this case a gym), it is in part because of aesthetics. As human beings, we connect to places and things because of how beautiful or visually appealing they are. We may not consciously be aware of how much this effects our everyday decisions. I knew right away when I signed a gym membership to Vie Fitness in Ann Arbor that a large part of my decision was how beautiful this gym was. Another reason why I knew I would join this gym was because of it’s convenience to the consumer. With our everyday lives being hectic, it’s hard enough to find time to go to the gym but Vie understands this effort on behalf of the consumer and makes it easier to plan ahead to go to the gym. In this essay, I will analyze the rhetoric of Vie Fitness by suggesting that the reason why people belong to this gym is bound in its simplicity, modern architecture, and convenience for the consumer.
I remember the first time I walked by Vie Fitness in Ann Arbor. It took me a few minutes to realize that it was a gym. From the outside, Vie has two large glass windows that face the street. In one window there is retail from several different exercise-clothing companies such as Lululemon, Lole, and The North Face. The exercise clothing is hung on the wall in a very organized fashion and the bright colors of the clothes stand out when you walk by. In the other window is a discreet view of the spinning room at the gym. This window showcases the highlight of Vie Fitness, which is the spinning classes. In the middle of this large window is a frosted pane so when someone walks by, he or she would have to bend down or stand up really tall to see the bikes and exercise equipment inside thus creating a sense of curiosity for the consumer and inviting them to explore the space. When you finally walk in the doors of Vie, it still doesn’t look like a regular gym. All of the colors in the gym are white, green, or silver. The only color in the space comes from the retail in the front room. The front desk is encompassed of a long counter that welcomes members with a large sign offering house-made smoothies. There are three large silver vases that sit on the countertop holding green apples. I always thought that the apples were fake and were meant to “look nice” for guests and remind people to be healthy. It always reminds me of the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. I finally asked the receptionist one day about the apples and she told me they are in fact real, and they are meant to be eaten by customers for free which I thought was very interesting.
By providing it’s customers with free apples everyday, Vie is emphasizing the importance of a healthy diet. They are showing that they believe in the importance of taking care of yourself not only physically but nutritionally as well. Vie again furthers the importance of nutrition at the gym by offering a smoothie bar. Each smoothie is packed with protein and fruits. The individuals that work at Vie often encourage healthy nutrition by offering samples of the smoothies but they also send out monthly newsletters with healthy recipes. Not only does Vie attract consumers because of it’s focus on fitness and nutrition but it is also a spa.
Part of the architecture of the space is meant to look serene, modern, and beautiful so that not only will you want to exercise there but you will also feel comfortable enough to visit the spa. It might seem strange to call a gym beautiful, but Vie is unique. Most gyms attract people by using gaudy colors like yellow and purple such as Planet Fitness. Other gyms attract consumers through specialty classes like body pump and zumba at Arbor Fit. There is nothing wrong with these tactics (I have belonged to both of these gyms in the past), but it doesn’t set them apart from others the way Vie Fitness does.
Although the colors inside the gym are very simple, it isn’t a boring space like you would expect. The architecture of the entire gym makes it feel more like a home than a gym. The front room is fairly small only showcasing the desk and retail. If you continue down the hallway it will eventually lead guests to the spa. To get to the rest of the gym, individuals must walk up a tall spiral staircase that leads to more equipment that customers use with personal trainers and a small room for specialty classes. None of the rooms inside Vie are large. This is partially because they are located in downtown Ann Arbor which is expensive, but also to create a sense of connectedness in the space. In the spinning room there are only 12 bikes, and even though this is a nice sized space, all of the bikes are stationed very close to one another. This creates a sense of closeness among guests of the gym because when you ride so close to other people, it makes you feel as if you are working as a team. When you take a class at Vie, you have a personal experience. All of the regular members of Vie are greeted by name when they walk in, and the instructors make an honest effort to get to know the people that attend their classes.
I believe another reason why Vie Fitness is so successful among its consumers is because of how convenient it is to belong to Vie. Although some would argue that driving downtown Ann Arbor is hectic, it is easy to belong to Vie because it is located across the street from a parking lot. When you become a member at the gym, they have a website and also an app that you have access to where you can look up class scheduling for the week and sign up for classes up to two days in advance. Sometimes it is hard to find time to go to the gym, but Vie recognizes that the people who belong to their gym have busy schedules and enjoy the option of planning when they will attend classes ahead of time.
Overall, I believe that Vie Fitness has created a very specific rhetoric for their business. They understand the needs of the consumer but they also understand the importance of aesthetics. The simplicity of the space as a whole, the modern equipment and architecture, and the convenience of being a member of this gym all make it a very inviting establishment. When you walk into Vie, it is very clear that there is a focus on staying fit, eating healthy, and feeling balanced. By incorporating a gym, a spa, and a smoothie bar, Vie sets itself apart from others by targeting individuals who strive for better health and wellness.