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Top 5 Key Features to Look For in an Apartment Gym

The concept of working out has evolved significantly in recent years and not just because of the pandemic. Widespread access to information and the increased focus on wellbeing are two more reasons that have helped transform the fitness industry and how we view physical movement. But how do all these changes translate into the design and facilities renters can find at the fitness centers in their apartment building?

On-site gyms and fitness centers are a given these days. More precisely, according to a RentCafe report, nine out of 10 apartment buildings offer some type of gym or fitness amenity. With the gym frenzy spanning more than half a century, it’s easy to understand why the expectations of fitness fanatics (and regular gymgoers, as well) have risen so much. Luckily, providers have kept up, even when it comes to gyms located within apartment buildings.

It goes without saying that nobody expects an apartment gym to offer the same services and facilities as a top-notch subscription-based gym — still, the era of the windowless-community-basement-with-a-couple-of-treadmills has set. Here are the top-notch features you should expect to see in an on-site gym, especially if you’re moving into a newly built apartment.

1. Natural light

If you do have a little bit of experience as a gymgoer and have been to more than a few gyms, you know that natural light is a rare commodity in many fitness centers — even more so in gyms located in older apartment buildings, which are usually space- and design-constrained. But that’s changing now — most modern apartment communities include fitness centers with floor-to-ceiling windows to allow natural light in. This simple design concept has been ignored on purpose by many high-profile gym brands, apparently.

top 5 key features to look for in an apartment gym

However, with the science of light impacting wellness decisions more and more, it is now a known fact that bright light — be it artificial or natural — increases our energy levels. And that’s what you want your gym to do for you (among other things, of course), right? This is why natural light is going from the most underrated type of light for indoor gyms to the most wanted. Just think of a treadmill placed in front of a large window, allowing you to take in some sun and maybe even some nice views while you sweat your bad vibes away.

2. Diverse equipment

A treadmill and a weight rack won’t do the trick anymore. Rowing machines, stair climbers and Peloton bikes are all the rage now, while infinity ropes, dumbbells and TRX gear are rapidly gaining popularity. In fact, the fitness industry has been booming in recent years thanks to social media and many are now familiar with various workout types and want to replicate them at the gym. As a result, hip gear and resistance bands are not so uncommon anymore next to the more “traditional” equipment you would expect to see in a gym.

The gym’s layout is also directly linked to workout diversity. Most gyms these days have a dedicated space for functional training, where you can move freely. In order to get it right and make sure they meet the needs of today’s gym rats, many developers are using consultants or are building partnerships with well-known fitness brands to help design the best apartment gyms.

3. Tech

We live in an era of technology, so it’s only natural for tech to be available in your apartment gym as well. Whether it’s in the form of online classes, smart equipment or, for the ultra-high-end gyms, integration of wearables, technology is not something that can be overlooked — not when most gym users are Millennials and Zoomers. These two generations make up 80% of gymgoers and they expect a seamless, integrated experience when hitting the gym. This means they’ll probably want to watch the same online trainer they do at home or they want to be able to sync their fitness tracker to the equipment they use at the gym.

top 5 key features to look for in an apartment gym

Another cutting-edge facility in some apartment gyms — particularly in more high-end buildings — are simulators. These machines allow you to play a virtual game of golf, baseball or other sports. Sure, you’ll get more of a kick while playing the real thing, but a simulator might just be a great addition to your apartment gym on a rainy day when you’re just not up for that 5-mile run.

4. Wellness facilities

While most people hit the gym to get their heart pumping and get in their best physical shape, sometimes (maybe now more than ever) you just need to do some form of exercise to unwind or simply to clear your mind. Developers have been looking more into wellness and wellbeing facilities in gyms for a while now, which is why many new luxury communities also offer saunas, hammams, massage rooms, landscaped outdoor areas or yoga studios.

If wellbeing is at the top of your list but your budget is keeping you away from luxury apartments with fancy gyms, there are other features you might want to consider when moving into a new rental. For example, some apartment gyms offer an outdoor lounge for fresh air and unwinding or a meditation room. Both are good ways to pause and reflect, which is a key process for improving your wellbeing.

5. Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is ubiquitous these days — and apartment gyms shouldn’t be an exception. This might even be that final incentive for residents to actually go in and work out. Listening to the music you love, following an online workout, connecting your gadgets to the gym equipment are just a few of the solid reasons why you should expect to benefit from free Wi-Fi in your gym.

6. Guest access

This might be a tricky one, since guest access is a rare occurrence in apartment gyms. The reasons why property managers prefer to limit access to “residents only” are obvious and include better control of any potential damages or to avoid safety hazards. However, we often need an extra nudge to start working out — and that nudge might just come from someone we know but who might not live in the same building. Having a workout partner is just the right motivation, so you might want to ask who is allowed in your apartment gym before you sign your lease.

top 5 key features to look for in an apartment gym

Some fitness centers allow guests for a fee or via a digital code. This usually requires that the guest provide some personal info, which helps the gym staff to keep track of who visits the premises and maintain safety.

A few other things that you might want to consider when looking into fitness centers within apartment communities are group classes, lots of mirrors on the walls (if you’re just starting out, you’ll get why these are necessary after a few visits), a snack machine/snack bar and — very importantly — friendly staff. All these features have the potential to improve your experience.

Alexandra Both
Alexandra Both
Alexandra Both is a senior creative writer with RentCafe. She has more than six years of real estate writing experience as a senior editor with Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News. She is a seasoned journalist, who has previously worked in print, online and broadcast media. Alexandra has a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Community Development.

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