Lifestyle Rental Market

From Going to the Gym to Living at the Gym: Fitness Amenities Are Present in 9 out of 10 New Apartment Buildings

Many people start the new year with big plans to get fit. While some manage to carry out this resolution, others don’t make it past a couple of miles on the treadmill or a couple of months at the gym. One major success factor in working out is how easy it is to get to the gym. If you could walk out of your apartment and step right into the gym, that would definitely help. Well, it seems that increasingly, apartment buildings are doing just that: bringing the gym to you.

Fitness amenities are certainly in demand. In a recent survey of more than 3,000 renters searching for apartments on rentcafe.com, 47% of respondents said they were interested in renting in a community with a gym or fitness center. What’s more, for 28% of these renters, the lack of a gym in the building is a real deal-breaker. A mix of three main reasons was cited: convenience, cost, and motivation. These results piqued our curiosity to see how many buildings actually have a gym or fitness center on site and what it costs to live in them. To find out, we looked at apartment data from Yardi Matrix.

See the survey results at the end of this article.

Fitness amenities are present in almost 90% of the apartment communities built this past decade

In 2019, an overwhelming 92% of new rental buildings came with some type of gym or fitness amenity. In fact, in the last decade alone, gyms have been a regular fixture in around 90% of new apartment buildings. Compared to the 1970s, when only about 30% of new buildings had a gym, the importance of such an amenity within residential buildings these days is unquestionable. Following this trend of combining fitness and convenience, two-thirds of large apartment buildings in the U.S. now have a fitness center on their premises. But is the growing presence of gyms in the last 50 years really that surprising?

Certainly, this gym-friendly building frenzy is no doubt a response to the gym hype seen across all generations. Surely you’ve heard of Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach California, right? What about of Arnold Schwarzenegger? The gym culture blossomed in the 1970s and Schwarzenegger was a center figure of it all. With it, residential buildings that offer their residents access to on-site fitness facilities took off, too.

While people followed the fitness routines of iconic figures like Richard Simmons throughout the 80’s, apartment developers took notice. In particular, 1986 was the turning year for apartment buildings with gyms, when they became dominant in new construction. And, 40 years later, a fitness center is present in essentially every building. Everyone wanted and wants to be fit – but even more, they want to live, work and play all in one spot. And you are most likely to find this in one particular type of building: high-end.

Most high-end residential buildings have one amenity in common: a fitness center

A top-of-the-line residential property is commonly associated with top-of-the-line amenities. These also include wellness amenities and residential perks, and no doubt, the fancier the building, the higher the chance of it having a gym. Around 96% of class A apartment buildings have a gym. However, the fitness center is not the only amenity offered in high-end complexes. Swimming pools, garage parking, secured access, services, business centers, pet-friendly areas, in-unit washers and dryers, and energy efficient appliances are also frequently found in these types of buildings. Additionally, some are in top locations that allow renters to fully embrace the live-work-play lifestyle.

Take a look below to see the spread of buildings by quality and presence of a gym.

Nationally, renting in buildings with fitness centers on premise costs only $57 above the average rent

Having a gym in your building has become a given, making exercise a much more convenient and frequent activity. But, when it comes to paying for this convenience, 56% of the renters surveyed indicated that they were not willing to pay extra for an on-site gym. In contrast, 32% said they would pay up to $100 extra, while only 2% indicated that they were willing to pay $300 or more. Compared to the national average rent of $1,473, the average cost to rent in buildings with a gym on site is $1,530; that’s a difference of just $57 per month, plus you get an array of other community amenities, as well.

Meanwhile, an off-site gym membership can range from $10 to $50 or more per month, depending on the type of gym and membership you choose. Although the difference in rent is not solely due to the presence of a fitness center, it is important to note that the nicer the amenities, the higher the rent will be. For example, some buildings offer a basic gym with some cardio and lifting equipment. Others have a fitness center with varied equipment and classes, such as yoga or Pilates. Still others offer a full-fledged health and wellness club with an expansive, fully equipped fitness center, pool, spa, personal trainers and recovery rooms.

In 10 of the 30 largest U.S. cities the difference in rent is less than $100 to have a gym on-site

In big cities, the price difference in rental buildings with gyms versus the city’s average rent tends to be higher than in other locations, and generally pricier than what an off-premise gym charges. Specifically, in 10 of the top 30 largest U.S. cities, it costs renters an average of less than $100 in extra rent to live in a building with a fitness center.

Austin, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Charlotte apartments are in this category. Conversely, in six cities the rent jumps by more than $300 in apartment communities that offer a fitness center. Among these are pricey locations such as New York City and San Francisco. On the other hand, some less expensive locations post rather high net differences in price, such as Detroit, where rent costs on average $1,075, while apartments in buildings with gyms go for $1,412. Similarly,renting in Philadelphia in a building with a gym costs over $2,000 compared to the $1,640 city average.

Big cities also tend to have a more mixed stock of buildings, both older buildings (without gyms) and newer ones (with gyms), so they differ more in price. Ultimately, the choice rests with the renter. But, if they prefer a newer building, a fitness center is virtually a given these days, whether they want it or not.

Top 15 best cities for active renters

While the trend of rental properties with on-site gyms has been noticeable across the U.S., active renters living in some cities have a more generous selection to choose from. Of the largest cities in the country, 15 boast fitness centers in more than half of their apartment buildings. Austin tops the list, with a 72% share of properties that include fitness facilities. Similarly, in Denver, 71% of buildings include a gym. Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Jacksonville round out the top five friendliest cities for renters who enjoy working out.

Top 10 best cities for active renters by state

Use the slides below to look up the top 10 cities by state with the highest share of rental buildings with fitness centers, as well as what it costs to rent in them compared to the city average. Cities where the rent difference is very small will likely have a large percentage of new apartments, which typically have gyms, or may be explained by certain market particularities.

Gym survey results

Methodology

  • Apartment rent and construction data was provided by our sister company Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors. The data is collected directly from competitively-rented (market-rate) large-scale multifamily properties (50+ units in size), via telephone survey. Fully-affordable properties are not included in the survey and are not reported in rental rate averages.
  • The share of rental properties with a fitness amenity on premise is calculated out of the total number of multifamily properties built in the location or time frame specified, and it refers to large-scale properties of 50 units or more only.
  • The terms gym, fitness center and fitness amenities are used interchangeably and refer to common area amenities.
  • Building Quality Classes are as defined by Yardi Matrix’s Apartment Property Improvement Ratings.
  • The 30 largest U.S. cities are based on population.
  • The top 15 best cities for active renters includes only large cities with a population above 600,000.
  • The city rankings by state are based on the share properties with a fitness center on premise out of the city’s total stock of large-scale properties. Cities where the stock of large-scale multifamily properties was below 10 were not included.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.


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About the author

Sanziana Bona

Sanziana Bona is a creative writer and researcher for RENTCafé, with a strong passion for the dynamic real estate market, covering topics from lifestyle to market trends. She has a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from Michigan State University, a LL.M. in International Business Law, Contracting and International Relations from Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía. You can connect with Sanziana via email.

Sanziana’s work has been featured in CNBC, CBS News, NBC New York, The Press Democrat, Wolf Street and The Registry San Francisco, among others. Prior to joining the RENTCafé team, she wrote extensive analysis papers on world topics such as human rights violations, international laws, and world conflicts, as well as arts literature, in both English and Spanish.

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