When Robert Montagne and his colleagues at Walnut Street Development in Fairfax, Va., first contemplated building Clarendon 1021, a 420-unit condominium building in Arlington, Va., deciding whether a fitness center would be included wasn't up for discussion. "With a building of that size, a fitness center was an absolute necessity," says Montagne, company president. "It was a no-brainer. With all the competition at that level you need those kinds of amenities."

But the same group paused when it came to planning a much smaller building–only 44 units–just across the river in Washington. "It's very unusual for us to put in a fitness center in such a small building," he says. "But at Georgetown Heights, which is very high-end, we thought that buyers would expect a fitness center. You're not just selling someone a condo or home. You're selling them a lifestyle, and part of that lifestyle is the convenience of going downstairs to work out."

AT YOUR TOUCH: The E3 Integrated LCD System from Life Fitness, standard on all E-model cardio products, offers the three Es: exercise, entertainment, and education. The console's touch screen displays relevant workout information, TV channels (including a promotional channel for in-house content), and a custom workouts program for personal trainers to create and save workouts. Some of the pressure to include fitness centers–even in condo buildings–comes from the prevalence of just such amenities in rental properties. "Rental properties, which often have lots of amenities, have been putting pressure on the for-sale guys,"says architect Stan Braden, a principal at the KTGY Group in Irvine, Calif. "Like it or not, we're starting to see more amenities on the for-sale side."

Even properties that target demographics not normally associated with the gym set–families and senior citizens–are starting to include fitness centers in their amenities' mix. "We just rehabbed a senior project in Oakland and ended up enlarging an area that used to have just a few stationary bikes in it," says Kim McKay, vice president of development at The Related Cos. of California in Irvine. "What had been an afterthought before is now enlarged and full of fitness equipment because there was so much interest from the seniors." Kathleen Stanley is a freelance writer in Washington.

For more information, call Life Fitness at 800-634-8637 or visit www.lifefitness.com.