For years, theo adamstein found himself racing around Washington, D.C. for his exercise and relaxation needs. He went one place to work out with a personal trainer and to another for yoga. A different venue offered Pilates, and if he wanted to end his workout with a muscle-relaxing massage, he was back in the car and off to a spa. His frustration with traveling to multiple destinations eventually triggered a creative idea: "I thought, 'What if we took the very best of the fitness world and the spa world and combined them into a really beautifully designed facility that did not require membership?'" says Adamstein. By August 2004, that idea had come to fruition with the opening of SomaFit, a hybrid fitness center and day spa in the Upper Georgetown area of Washington, D.C.
Left: SomaFits light-filled entry leads between the gym and fitness studios, past the front desk, and into the spa. Right: Bright orange is found throughout the facility, including the spa lounge.
The 8,500-square-foot two-story facility includes a high-end gym, two exercise class studios, a spa with nine treatment rooms, serene lounges, saunas in the changing areas, and a retail space. Adamstein, who runs his own architectural firm, Adamstein & Demetriou Architects, with his wife, designed the interior with separate identities for the fitness and the spa aspects. The workout area's clean, neutral background is offset by pale wood accents and natural lighting. Pivoting frosted acrylic panels and vented screens separate the workout space from the entry area, which is splashed with mod shades of cobalt and orange, while maintaining an open, high-energy feel. Meanwhile, the spa area's dark wood doors and accents, muted lighting, and white and sky-blue tiles invoke a quiet, languorous mood conducive for receiving relaxing treatments. Throughout the facility, wood accents, modern fixtures, and frosted glass enhance the overall aesthetic design, which won the 2004 American Institute of Architecture Merit Award for Interior Architecture.
Breaking from tradition, SomaFit introduces a novel idea: Rather than charge membership fees, the facility provides all services á la carte. Guests pay per fitness class (such as mat or Pilates reformer, yoga, stretch, and cardio) or service (such as consulting with a nutritionist, working with a personal trainer, or receiving a facial). "This business model is based on the use of the facility per session," says Adamstein. "The hourly charges are often more lucrative than people paying one hundred dollars a month but coming in thirty times." It's not only a lucrative model, but also one that appeals to both out-of-town visitors who want to stop in for a class and a treatment over the weekend and the core clientele of local customers who live in the neighborhood. The facility serves approximately 85 clients per day with bookings averaging about 30,000 visits per year.
Above Left:SomaFit is tucked in the bustling, hip Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. A narrow outdoor patio delineates the spa entry from the rest of the multistory office building it inhabits. Above Right:The spa houses nine treatment rooms. Bottom Left:Changing rooms provide guests with complimentary grooming products. Bottom Right: Pivoting frosted panes of glass and wooden louvered screens separate the gym from the entryway.
The pay-as-you-go model fits well with the menu offerings, too. Services include body treatments such as the Seaweed Wrap ($140, 80 minutes), which uses Phytomer Seaweed Treatment and includes exfoliation, an application of sea paste, a wrap in a heated blanket, a scalp-and-face massage, and an application of moisturizer; facials, such as the Skinceuticals Vitamin C Facial ($95, 50 minutes); waxing; and manicures and pedicures.
Clients are also attracted to the package deals offered at SomaFit, which allow guests to combine fitness and spa services at a savings. For example, they can take a Pilates class and follow up with a facial for $110, or add a tai chi session to a massage, facial, manicure, or pedicure for $260. All services are provided by the staff of 50 trainers, massage therapists, estheticians, and nail technicians led by facility director and partner Luci Gabel.
The entry area features seats and cushions in eye-catching shades of cobalt and orange. Frosted acrylic panels allow natural light to flow into different interior spaces while keeping them separate.
SomaFit's customized private spa parties, which can be tailored to include an exercise class, a variety of spa treatments, food, drinks, and gifts, are a favorite with bachelorette parties and other groups. "Spa parties have become really popular," says Adamstein. "We get probably two or three calls every day for big events. People often ask about facials, but we suggest, 'What about taking a Pilates mat class to start, followed by a spa visit?'"
In little more than a year of business, SomaFit has already proved that its innovative business plan and integration of health and wellness services is a success. It's a hit with guests and was even featured last March on the FOX-TV series The Simple Life: Interns, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. "We're very new, but the concept has already proven itself," says Adamstein. "We're growing like crazy."