How Fitness Brand Equinox Is Using Adobe XD to Transform Its Digital Experiences

Illustration: Justin Cheong.

If you’ve ever set foot in an Equinox fitness club, you know it’s not the standard gym experience. The luxe brand caters to an elite, high-performance clientele where time efficiency is of the essence, and fostering a particular athletic community is critical.

Members of the club, which has outposts across the United States, Canada, and the U.K., are accustomed to a certain set of standards and quality that “has to extend to all the digital products that they use, and it’s got to work seamlessly as well,” said Cecilia Farooqi, director of digital design at Equinox.

Headquartered in New York City, where there alone are more than 35 Equinox clubs, the UX design team’s role is to elevate that “standard of experience” online through the company’s website, applications, communications, and digital campaigns. Just over a year ago, the team began using Adobe XD to bring some of these experiences to life — and it is now a vital part of the brand’s contextual storytelling strategy and process.

The desktop version of annual workout performance results for Equinox Fitness as designed in Adobe XD.

The desktop version of annual results, as designed in Adobe XD.

Turning to XD to bring the in-club experience online

One of the first projects the Equinox design team created with XD was a digital experience for members that delivered a year’s worth of performance and behavior data to the user in an engaging, visual, and meaningful way. They used XD to design the experience seamlessly across multiple channels, including web, mobile, and email, as well as all the features that came with it.

“Engagement was super high and the feedback was that our members want to see their performance,” Cecilia said. “They were super interested in seeing it presented to them in that way. That’s what was so great about using XD, to be able to quickly map out how we could deliver that data back while telling a story about their behavior.”

Cecilia’s team focuses on the creative brand and storytelling experience, while collaborating closely with a second UX team that concentrates on designing features and transactional flows. Feedback from the initial project has led to developing more data-driven and performance-based features in the user experience across brands and platforms.

The mobile version of annual workout performance results for Equinox Fitness as designed in Adobe XD.

The mobile version of a member’s annual results, as designed in Adobe XD.

Enhancing physical experiences with the digital realm

For Equinox members who abide by the company’s motto, “It’s not fitness. It’s life,” a seamless user experience that transcends the four walls of an Equinox club while enhancing the overall member experience is a necessity that has changed the UX team’s entire approach to what constitutes a user experience.

After the initial XD project proved successful, the team shifted focus to prioritize UX design in everything they do, not just in product. The following Precision Running Lab video shows how the in-club experience and brand aesthetic are replicated through the app to motivate Equinox members. Notice also the functionality, which provides the ability to book classes while gaining a deeper understanding of what each class is about.

“We’re considering a flow, an experience that has to be thought through, and not just each piece defined in the silo,” Cecilia said. Before, they were designing things individually using other Adobe products such as Photoshop and InDesign — now, they’re “doing it all in XD, and doing it simultaneously, so that we can be smarter about the way we deliver messages and experiences.”

Now the team is designing with experience management in mind, enhancing features to help members track their performance, monitor class usage, discover new workouts based on interests and goals, and to provide on demand audio content such as guided meditations and runs. They’re looking at what classes are the most popular, what general user behavior looks like, and using the data gained from the digital user experiences to further optimize in-club experiences. The digital and physical experiences inspire and inform one another, becoming inherently intertwined.

“We’re starting to recognize that our members are increasingly placing value on their time, convenience, and having a choice,” Cecilia said.

Challenges in form and function

Equinox has found the community aspect of its clubs to be one of its greatest strengths. It motivates members, and keeps them coming back. “When [a member] shows up and they’re greeted by the front desk, that personalized community feeling they get in the club, that’s what we really have to bring it to our digital experience — otherwise there’s a disconnect,” Cecilia said.

Any instance of disconnect is an opportunity to potentially lose a member to one of the many other luxury clubs popping up around the country. Technology, and the user experience that comes with it, is in itself a form of currency. It is a key to keeping members engaged and motivated when they’re not in a physical club.

“When we’re talking about people prioritizing their health and wellness, motivation is a huge aspect of it — and it can get derailed very quickly. The minute someone experiences any bit of friction, that’s going to throw off their motivation, and then we’ve lost them,” Cecilia said.

The goal then becomes what can the UX design team do to prevent derailing a user’s motivation? What can they build into the apps and digital experiences that will keep them engaged and encourage them to get the most out of their Equinox memberships, including use of the facilities, making the most of programming, getting results, and achieving their goals?

“Our UX journey is to set members up for success in their fitness journeys,” Cecilia said. “We want to do some of the legwork around setting and managing goals and tracking performance, so they can just spend more time doing.”

The fitness journey meets the user journey

There’s a comparison to be made between a fitness journey and a user journey.

“With a fitness journey, it’s really about recognizing what you need. There’s a lot of personalization that comes into play,” Cecilia said. “We’ve been making huge strides in our UX journeys and digital products in recognizing some of the personal needs and being more responsive to things in real time. People’s behaviors change all the time. What their goals are change all the time. That might be things they have to tell us themselves, or it might be something we just have to recognize based off their behavior.”

As the Equinox team continues to use products like Adobe XD to seamlessly connect in-person and digital experiences, there’s no doubt that other brands will be inspired to follow suit as well. Marrying online and offline user experiences isn’t for luxury brands only, it’s something all brands must consider in order to remain competitive and ensure they’re delivering the holistic experiences their users want.

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