By far the most popular amenity in apartment communities, whether co-op, condo, or rental, is a gym. Even in small buildings where space for extras is at a premium, boards look for ways to add a fitness room somewhere, anywhere, they can wedge it in. But what makes a gym or fitness room as well-used and efficient as it can be? That formula may be less complicated – and less space-dependent – than you think.
The Cutting Edge in Gyms
Gail Hamilton, executive director at ProFIT, a national fitness space management firm based in New York City, says technology is the dominant theme in gym design and management today. “The trend is toward computerized metrics with other exercisers,” says Hamilton, citing the popular Peloton bike as an example of equipment that lets the rider pit themselves against other users and an online instructor. Other amenities, like being able to stream video or go online to check email while you work out are not going away. Today’s users have grown up with technology, and they need and use it while exercising. Interactive technology makes regular TV in a gym obsolete; today’s users want live stream, without the hassle of channel flipping – and they want it with a live feed showing how many calories they’re burning in real time. “Basically,” says Hamilton, “they want what they want when they want it, and that’s what we try to give them.”
Media aside, Hamilton continues, “Cardio is still king” when it comes to what most users look for in a gym. That means lots of treadmills, bicycles, and newer devices like the Mirror, an unobtrusive flat-screen display that can connect users to an array of streaming, instructor-led classes in everything from yoga to kickboxing. And while Hamilton says that Peloton no longer sells its product to multifamily buildings (likely because doing so could cut into their individual unit sales), Peloton’s main competitor, Echelon, will. The Mirror also doesn’t restrict multifamily sales to multifamily buildings – and Hamilton reports that they are putting this kind of equipment in middle-market buildings as well as high-end properties.
In terms of design, Hamilton advises boards and residents to think big. Provide more space than you think will be sufficient – because it never is sufficient. Don’t go cheap on equipment either. “You are designing the space for 10 years from now,” she says. “Not just for today. The more you spend up front, the longer it will last, requiring fewer upgrades later.”
In terms of strength training equipment, single-exercise, ‘isolation’ devices such as leg extension machines are decidedly passe; not only do they take up too much space, but as fitness consumers have become better informed and sophisticated about their programming, they’re demanding equipment that supports a more holistic, integrated approach to training. The current trend is toward more multifunctional products like Gravitron, or the Queenax, a modular system that incorporates multiple, functional exercises into a sleek, space-conscious design with storage areas for exercise components and attachments within it.