FACT: Up to 46% of renters reported in a survey that they would pay higher rent to live in a development with state-of-the-art fitness amenities. But to really leverage that statistic your fitness space has to be more than a check box on your property’s profile. Most multi-family developments, condominiums, HOAs and apartment complexes, do not offer what residents require. It’s a hard thing to figure out. And the public’s demands are only growing and their interest in high-end products and services – immediately – is almost insatiable.
Renters today, Gen Zs, millennials and even baby boomers, want to be catered to exponentially. They want their gym to be more than just functional; they want it to be engaging. In the immediate satisfaction world of today, you are going to be hard pressed to find people that will religiously go to the treadmill on their own. For your fitness amenities – the equipment in them – to “pay for themselves” you have to draw them in. And keep them coming back.
If you don’t, the fitness center becomes invisible. It’s just a cost center now. Plus, it may project a false impression to prospects. they may be excited to have a fitness center where they live. But then they discover it’s a ghost town.
There are tactics you can undertake to inexpensively “juice up” your facility to attract and retain residents. The first of course is to create a fitness space if none currently exists (see next section). Equip the gym with the right amount and mix of equipment, and ensure there’s enough space to work out comfortably and safely. Don’t throw your hands up believing that there’s no way your budget can take all of that on! Some of the most popular fitness/workouts right now require very little equipment; but many do require space. See our Insight on Functional Training.
Be Creative to Boost Your ROI on Fitness Spaces
We’ve all heard about the cross-fit craze. Your residents have too. And some want to try it. Others might not really know what it is but are always up for something new. Why not invest in a piece of equipment that will allow your residents to do cross-fit at your property, or at least some form of high-intensity training (HIIT)? HIIT is a real trend that has made a real impact on the fitness arena. It’s not a fad, it’s a trend and it’s only getting more popular.
Be Creative – Inexpensively: If you have smart TVs in a space, you can easily display popular HIIT trainers for residents to emulate on your equipment. The smart TV idea can be done in a number of ways. Find a free virtual fitness service and “cast” it to those TVs.
But for a bigger bang for your buck, look at this. Wellbeats Virtual Training has hundreds of classes and workouts that can be broadcast on any smart TV on the property. Put it up on a TV in the office, just **for residents to see what’s going on in the fitness center**. But the best thing about Wellbeats is that you can give every resident access to it in their own homes, on their devices and they don’t pay anything. The subscription prices for the property are very reasonable and there is a discount for multi-family properties through Heartline Fitness (full disclosure, we are a premium dealer for Wellbeats).
So many people during the pandemic shutdowns got into virtual exercise, live and on-demand. These programs can be viewed at any time of day or night and are built for both individual and group workouts. (This goes for any virtual fitness app, not just Wellbeats.)
What if you don’t have a fitness center? Or yours is very small? You can convert under-utilized spaces into all sorts of specialized fitness and wellness “studios.” A business center no one uses? A media center/theater that sits empty? Each of those and other obsolete spaces is a candidate for a transformation to a fitness “studio.” (Or call it something else; something fun maybe. Brainstorm that in your office!)
Size doesn’t matter. A simple cordoned off space with multi-colored yoga mats, (and one of those smart TVs broadcasting dozens of you workouts) and now you can offer residents a fully-equipped Yoga Studio. When not in use, you can make that the meet-up place for organized fitness events– walks across the property is one idea that comes to mind. This is just one low-investment, quick turnaround upgrade to engage your residents, build community and get them hooked on the amenity.
Make an Outdoor Exercise Space
Depending on your climate and the season, it can be fun to change up your workout in the crisp fresh air of fall or the morning dew in Spring, or anytime of year for those lucky enough to have good outdoor weather year round..
There is a lot of variety in outdoor fitness equipment in the market now – more than just chin up bars and monkey bars – that many residential properties are starting to install and see residents add to their workouts.
Walk it off. If your property has walking paths or other outdoor spaces for people to enjoy; you can add some equipment along the paths . These are not all budget busters. Or in almost any unused space, grass, dirt patches, on concrete, even asphalt.
If your walking area is large, you could do fun things with residents like set up a relay race going through the path, one team member completing a workout on each piece of equipment, then a sprint to the finish. Each team is timed, and fastest time wins. Each team member gets a prize — Starbuck’s gift card or just a prize ribbon or similar items from the Dollar Store (it’s just for fun!).
Or you can skip the equipment and set up a scavenger hunt. These are great for families. Or organize games of kick the can for the kids. These spaces can give your community a lot more than just a walk or run by themselves. Anything that gets people out enjoying the fresh air is a great incentive for residents to keep coming back to that area for more. The same goes for your fitness center. But it’s not just the exercise, it’s the meeting other residents with at least one similar interest. It’s about acting out the kind of community you want yours to be.
And of course if you have a pool at your property, aquatic fitness equipment – spin bikes, treadmills and more – is wildly popular. You can also drop in a couple of pieces right in the pool area – right in the concrete that’s already there or in a grassy area inside the pool enclosure. Of course, indoor pools can offer these year-round; outdoor pools in the summer.
Look to the Community for Resources
You do not have to hire a full-time trainer to “activate” your fitness center. Not even a part-time one. Try the Nextdoor app (or other community apps) and post an invitation for trainers to come and present to a group of your residents. Lead them in a workout. Chat a bit with each resident about their form or their fitness goals. These fitness pros are all working to make a name for themselves and find clients. Let him or her distribute (or just put on a table by the door) their business card. Note, they would do this for free; make that clear in your post. They are there for the opportunity to meet fitness-mined people; potential clients.
If there is a college nearby, you could do the same with students about to graduate with a degree in exercise science or kinesiology. Ask them if they would put on a free exercise class, weight training tutorial, or cross-fit session at your property’s gym. And an online search can find more resources for you. Just be sure to put “free” in the search field.
This is just a sampling of ideas to optimize the ROI on your fitness center. For most people it’s a matter of getting the residents into the fitness center; once they’re there, they will do their workout and be thrilled with themselves that they did. A positive visit most often leads to a return visit. (This is true with most of your amenities.)
Adding experiential details to your fitness amenities will get people to the space and keep them coming back for more. And it projects a strong image to prospects; an image of a real community; a real opportunity to join in. This is what creates strong loyalty – loyalty that elevates your community lifestyle and leads to resident retention.
If you’d like to discuss any of these ideas and more with one of our fitness experts, just email [email protected]. There’s never any charge for “consulting” like this, so schedule a chat. Or invite us out to take a look at your space(s). Now might just be the time to take a look at making some changes to your amenities — changes that enhance your property’s community, and that fit any budget.