Feature Article - May 2013
Find a printable version here

Comfort & Joy

Modernize Your Locker Room to Boost Satisfaction

By Rick Dandes


Another way to achieve a nicer, higher-end look is to use modern materials, Blaisdell said. "Quite often, the use of larger tile with fewer grout joints, which are still relatively inexpensive, can give an area a higher-end look. We're finding that people are using different materials for lockers, plastic lockers for example, or something with splashes of color to it. Even if they are using a metal locker, they are using ones with different color patterns to break up the space and make it look less institutional."

Lockers made in a variety of styles to break up the monotony is certainly a trend at clubs, said Mark Finkernagel, president of a locker and locker-room fixture manufacturer based in Columbia, S.C. "I am seeing more use of colors, and it's much more than getting away from basic colors and metal lockers. Maybe now you'll see different colors on alternating doors or alternating end panels. It's all intended to give the locker room a better appearance.

"No more do you walk into a locker room where every locker is two tiers, the same color, or the same sizes," Finkernagel continued. "What customers are asking for are some full-tier lockers, two-tier lockers and four-tier lockers. We are definitely noticing the desire for a mix of locker sizes, because there are people who bring coats or larger bags and want a larger locker, but there are also people who want to stuff something into a smaller locker. A mix of the two is valued."

Overlay doors are also an option. The width itself of lockers hasn't changed much over the years, Finkernagel said, "but now, with plastics you can get an overlay door, which is like a cabinet door in your kitchen. It means that on a 12 inch wide locker the door is 12 inches wide." Compare that to the old fashioned lockers, he said. An old fashioned metal locker that was 12 inches wide might have a door that is just 9 inches wide. With an overlay door, you might still have a 12 inch frame, but it's more accessible for storing equipment. You can get that 12-inch-wide bag into the locker, whereas before, you couldn't fit it through the opening.

From a depth perspective there hasn't been much change, he explained. "Typically lockers will be 15 inches deep, and some as wide as 18 inches. Those standards seem to be holding."

Making the Space More Inviting

Of course, there are always durability and maintenance issues for these post-modern locker rooms, added Mark Keane, senior associate, project designer, Hastings+Chivetta Architects, St. Louis. "We have seen a trend toward using materials that will leave the locker room feeling more wide open and inviting—spa characteristics that bring out the warmth of the space and make people feel more comfortable. Some special detailing could be part of a re-design to almost hide the old locker room feel: built-in benches, vertical lighting around the grooming mirrors, and indirect or softer lighting."

The LED light source has allowed for sustainable long-lasting light that can withstand the humid atmosphere in a locker room. It can control the color of the light as well, so you don't have to be in harsh fluorescent lighting. LEDs are coming down in price and improving in quality, and although they are initially more expensive, they have the benefit of extremely low maintenance and longevity. And depending upon how they are used, they can provide more light than traditional fluorescent bulbs.

Sustainability and paying more attention to comfort factors in the locker room is key to customer satisfaction. More and more user communities, whether in municipal or educational (high school or collegiate) settings, are interested in their energy consumption and sustainable practices. That extends to using sustainable materials that will last, for example, the availability of sustainable hand dryers. As a club operator, you don't want maintenance issues, where you have to replace materials after a few years; you want the lockers, benches, floor tiles and shower fixtures to last longer than that.