Fitness centers have long been an important amenity for multifamily dwellers. But thanks to the pandemic, those features have become even more vital.
With stay-at-home orders, quarantining, and social distancing, commercial fitness facilities weren’t an option (or even open, in some cases) for many months. And today, continued remote work has just made them less desirable.
“During the pandemic, many people turned to working out when everything else was locked down,” says Jeff Klotz, CEO of real estate investment platform The Klotz Group. “Now, maintaining their new workout habits is increasingly important.”
But the pandemic didn’t just make on-site fitness amenities more popular; it also forced changes in them. Regular sanitization and deep cleaning became the norm. And set open and close times? Those went by the wayside.
“During the pandemic, social distancing protocols limited gym occupancy, and normal operating hours were not enough to meet the resident demand,” says Sean Organ, area vice president at Morgan Properties. “Many of our gyms are now open 24/7, and residents can access the facilities using their own key fob.”
According to Adam Peters, regional partner at Perseus TDC, many of his company’s developments have had to expand hours too. While some of it was due to pandemic-related capacity limitations, remote work—and the more flexible hours many residents now have—has also played a role.
Top Fitness Trends for Multifamily Residents
Beyond the shifts in hours and cleaning protocols, experts say the actual facilities residents are looking for have changed too.
“The days of a few treadmills and some weight machines are over,” Klotz says. “Multifamily tenants are now looking for an upscale fitness club within their building, not a tired old gym.”
And he’s right: According to Bianca D’Alessio, director of new development at Nest Seekers International, the tried-and-trusty treadmill is on its way out.
“There has been a decline in the amount of treadmills we would traditionally set aside for a residential gym based on its size,” says D’Alessio. “For instance, a building where we would normally plan for at least 10 treadmills has been reduced by more than 50%.”
In place of treadmills and other more dated equipment, buildings are putting in yoga, barre, and cycling rooms, adding CrossFit training areas, and focusing more on connected equipment, which allows users to stream classes, work with trainers, and even interact with other users.
“We are seeing an all-time high in terms of interest in streaming workout platforms and fitness services utilizing technology to get a workout in,” D’Alessio says.
Peloton bikes, Lululemon’s MIRROR, and Hydrow and Ergatta rowing machines are just a few examples of this high-tech equipment.
“These high-end rowers allow you to work with trainers but virtually visit a beautiful remote location,” says Karen Kostiw, an agent with Warburg Realty in New York. “You feel challenged while also being able to decompress.”
Thinking Beyond the Fitness Center
The on-site fitness center is just one piece of the puzzle, though. According to experts, offering outdoor fitness options is important too—things like rooftop workout classes, a terrace or garden for yoga, or a building-wide bike-share program, which Organ says his properties have seen increasing interest in.
On-site juice bars and other amenities can be a huge draw—at least for buildings with commercial space.
As D’Alessio explains, “People love to be able to get a great workout in their fitness amenity and then run downstairs for an açaí bowl, a salad, or a protein shake and juice.”