Heartline Fitness


5 Basic Rules of Thumb For Sizing Fitness Centers and Clubs

work out space with treadmills and tall windows

I want to create an amenity fitness center in our apartment complex, what rules of thumb should I use to size such a facility?

Over the past 40+ years, the health club industry has developed its share of formulas for building health clubs, and determining the amount of cardio and strength training equipment that would accommodate a certain member population.   So, the first question becomes, how many members or tenants is our facility likely to have?

1. Tenant/Member Population

Health clubs typically deal with populations living within a certain number of miles from the health club.   In the amenity fitness center world, and specifically, an apartment complex, we need to know how many tenants will have access to the fitness center.

In this case, you can make estimates based on the number of apartments in the complex.     For example, if there were 400 units and 1000 tenants, it would be fair to say that approximately 20% of the tenant population will use the fitness center, or 200 tenants.

2. Hourly/Daily Usage

In terms of usage, you should plan on 10% of the expected tenant population to use the facility in a given hour.   Based on our earlier assessment of 20% of the estimated tenant population (1000), approximately 200 tenants will use the club in a given month, 10% of which will use the facility in a given hour, or 20, and approximately 35% of the 200 tenants will likely use the facility in a given day, or approximately 70 users.

3. Multi-Purpose Areas

Functional and group exercise training have taken over the health club in recent years.   Instead of open boxes with rows and rows of cardio and strength equipment, the industry continues to move to a more compartmentalized approach creating a variety of group exercise studios, as well as truly “open” training spaces for stretching, core training, and a whole host of personal training activities.

Years ago, a health club owner may have carved out only 10% of the club’s space to functional and group exercise training, now allocations can be as high as 30% to 35%.   For amenity fitness centers, we believe 10% to 20% is a reasonable allocation for multi-purpose areas such as stretching, yoga, core and free weight training activities.

4. Square Footage

In terms of allocating square footage for the fitness center, the industry rule of thumb is approximately 10-12 square feet for each member.

This space allocation does not include space requirements for common areas, closets, restrooms, etc.   Using our earlier example of 200 tenants that will use the amenity fitness center, would result in a 2,000 to 2,500 square foot facility.

5. Equipment Volume

Based on our earlier assessment, if approximately 20 tenants will be using the facility in a given hour, then we would size the facility with at least 12-15 pieces of cardio, and a full complement of dual-function, selectorized equipment and free weight products and accessories.

By Bob Burgess

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