Fitness Centers for Multifamily Communities (+Cost, Tips)
May 27, 2020
Adding a fitness center amenity to your building is a great way to attract new residents and keep existing residents happy. Almost half of prospective renters or condo purchasers said they were looking for complexes with a fitness facility. In the past decade, 90% of new multifamily construction projects included an on-site gym amenity.
WHAT WE’LL COVER:
- Chapter 1: Why Your Residential Community Needs a Gym Amenity
- Chapter 2: How Much Does It Cost to Add a Fitness Center in a Multifamily Building?
- Chapter 3: How to Build a Fitness Center Amenity for Your Apartment Complex
- Chapter 4: Benefits of Gyms for Multifamily Buildings
- Chapter 5: Avoid Common Fitness Center Complaints
Are you looking to add a fitness center amenity to your apartment? Our guide will help answer all your questions on the logistics, cost, and planning of opening a new fitness center amenity in your multifamily building.
Gym amenities are becoming increasingly popular. 10 or 15 years ago, a fitness center in your apartment or condo building was seen as a luxury. Now, tenants are exclusively looking for places to live that have fitness facilities.
Fitness club memberships range from $10 to over $200 per month, so it’s easy to see why potential buyers and renters are looking for buildings that have fitness centers on-site.
1. Do you have a space that could be easily converted into a fitness center?
Old conference rooms, business centers, party rooms, or laundry rooms can be good choices to convert to an apartment gym. If you can secure a new building permit and you have the land, you can construct an additional building to serve as your community gym. If space is tight and building from the ground-up is too expensive in your city, you’ll want to go get creative and think hard about how you can work with what you’ve got.
If you choose to go the new construction route, then prepare to fork over anywhere from $30 to $60 per square foot, not including equipment, lockers, or any extras. In New York City or other major metropolitan areas, expect to pay up to $200 per square foot for a basic room without equipment.
2. What equipment will your fitness center include?
Features like pools, saunas, yoga rooms, and hydrotherapy beds can quickly increase the cost of building a health and wellness amenity. However, they also might attract more affluent residents who are willing to pay for a luxurious environment. When you’re thinking about adding extra features, be sure to measure the added value of fitness center upgrades as best as you can.
3. How many residents do you have?
Most fitness centers in residential communities budget for around 10 square feet per member. You’ll need to scale this up based on your number of residents. A basic starting estimate is to plan for about 20% to 25% of residents to use the fitness center. Each building and population is different, so plan accordingly. If your residents are particularly active, you might want to plan for more than 20% of your residents to use the gym space.
Also, keep in mind that adding in extra features such as a pool, group fitness classes, and saunas could increase the amount of residents that are more likely to use the fitness center.
1. Do proper research and planning
Now’s the time to start brainstorming about potential rooms you could convert into a fitness center. It’s important to think about what residents will actually use, not what you think they’ll use. Over 80% of tenants look for an apartment with a fitness center, but 42% of residents report that they rarely or never use their onsite gym facilities.
If you’re the current property manager or superintendent, then you know best what your current residents would like. Are they mostly older, younger, a mix of both? Eco-friendly? Always have the latest tech? These are all important questions you should be able to answer that will help shape your future fitness center.
If you’re looking for more insight into what types of fitness amenities are the most popular, you could also work with a realtor to get the inside scoop on what’s selling. Alternatively, you can browse current listings of properties near you to see if you can find any photos of their fitness amenities.
2. Consult with a construction company and fitness management company
A fitness management company and/or construction partner can help you figure out the logistics of building a fitness center in a multifamily building. By partnering with experts, you can easily calculate important numbers and plan out processes:
- Overall cost to build
- Estimate of management fees
- Management costs
- How much fitness equipment to purchase
- Timelines and launch dates
3. Hire a project manager
If you’re working with a construction partner and/or fitness management company, you’ll have a lot less on your plate. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to get familiar with the processes that are involved with adding an apartment gym; planning, constructing, promoting, and managing. This helps you understand what’s going on and oversee the entire project more efficiently.
If you’re already strapped for time, you can hire a project manager to assist you. The construction company and fitness management company will likely have their own project managers, but it’s worthwhile to have an additional project manager who represents the apartment building and not external companies.
4. Drive awareness of your new gym amenity
You can start promoting the construction of the fitness center as soon as the project begins! There’s no need to wait for a “turn-key” date to start getting current residents and future residents excited about the new fitness facilities.
Once your fitness center is ready, go out and promote it again! Update the website and all current marketing materials. Work with a realtor to update and optimize any current listings. Send email blasts to the existing residents letting them know the gym is open. You could even display a large banner or sign outside of the apartment building.
1. Attract and retain residents
The majority of prospective residents look for on-site fitness facilities when deciding on where to live. Many residents are looking for fitness centers for a variety of reasons:
- No commute to a gym.
- Eliminating gym membership costs. Bonus points if group classes are available at the on-site fitness center, such as yoga or Zumba. Yoga memberships can run an upwards of $100/month!
- Interested in resort-style living.
2. Increase property value
3. Healthier residents
More people are integrating health and wellness into their daily routines. Both younger and older individuals can benefit from fitness centers. Reputation management is important, so positioning your apartment complex as health-conscious can be a smart move.
4. Attract wealthier residents
A new fitness center for apartments can be amazing for residents and future tenants, but it can also bring its fair share of challenges. Complaints will inevitably happen over time, but you can get a step ahead of the game by understanding the most common complaints and how to resolve them.
1. Limited or outdated equipment
Cardio equipment is constantly changing and being upgraded with new bells and whistles. While it can be tempting to buy cheap treadmills, elliptical trainers, and exercise bikes, keep in mind that potential residents probably expect the newest equipment. It’s worth considering purchasing high-quality cardio equipment and updating it as needed.
Dumbbells, barbells, squat racks, and all types of free weights are unlikely to go out of style anytime soon, so those are a safe bet. Free weights and strength training equipment is also fairly affordable, with a variety of online fitness equipment retailers offering low prices and worldwide shipping.
Open studio spaces with mirrors can be used for a variety of group classes. Since group classes are always evolving, an empty studio space is perfect if you want your fitness center to stay relevant and flexible as time goes on.
2. Crowded fitness center
When the apartment gym gets too crowded, you can expect some angry residents to voice their frustrations. After all, they’re just as entitled to the fitness center as their neighbour down the hall. Make sure you’ve run the calculations to estimate how many residents you expect to use your gym and build your fitness center accordingly.
Like other gyms, you can place reminders around the fitness center that reminds your tenants about peak usage times. Peak gym times are usually 8:00 am to 10:00 am and 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. You can also ask your residents to try to limit their use of cardio equipment during peak usage times to 30 minutes. This helps keep the flow of residents moving throughout the gym, since many individuals tend to warm up and cool down using cardio equipment.
3. Limited hours
Most residents will appreciate having a fitness center that’s open 24/7. If you limit the hours of operation for your fitness center, then it restricts residents from having the flexibility of working out whenever they choose. Additionally, keeping the fitness center open 24/7 can potentially reduce crowding during peak times.
Keep in mind that sometimes gyms in multifamily buildings are closed for “quiet hours” because the noise from the gym echoes throughout the apartment. This can be greatly mitigated with proper soundproofing and building the fitness center on the appropriate floor.
4. Poor Maintenance
Other gyms and wellness centers have rigorous cleaning schedules, and there’s no exceptions for fitness centers within residential buildings. Without a daily scrubbing, the gym floor and fitness equipment can quickly go from gleaming to grubby.
The fitness center can be cleaned during off-peak hours to facilitate 24/7 operation. While cleaning, pay special attention to the equipment, doors, mirrors, walls, floors, lockers, showers, and saunas.
With the help of construction companies, online fitness management companies, and the wealth of information available online, you can start building a fitness center amenity right away!
Additional Resources for Multifamily Property Managers & Owners