A Gem of a Gym The 'Fitness Center' Grows Up

 Like any major project in a co-op or condominium, installing a gym is made up of  two separate yet equally important parts: The brass tacks of planning and  executing the project, and the politics of running it through the board and  residents.  

 And as with most projects—especially costly 'lifestyle' amenities—the politics is the hard part.  

 “With all the negotiating back and forth and rounds of approvals, putting in the  gym took about five years,” recalls Patricia Durbin-Ruiz, former manager of the fitness center at The  Belaire, a 50-story condominium tower at 524 East 72nd Street in Manhattan. The  resistance among some of the owners at The Belaire was particularly intense  because it was to be massive—and expensive, including the upgrade of an existing indoor pool in addition to  the installation of the gym.  

 But the Belaire's board persevered through the resistance because they were  certain the fitness center would be more than a luxury lifestyle amenity for  their building—it would be essential to keep the building competitive in the marketplace. They  were reminded of that every day by the activity across the street: a rental  tower was being converted to a condominium called Miraval Living that boasted a  luxurious fitness center and pool. “The Belaire had a beautiful building,” says Durbin-Ruiz, “but no gym.”  

 Staying Competitive

 According to Jeffrey Heidings, president of Siren Management Corp., “More than five years ago, a gym was a plus. Now, If you don’t have a gym you are not competing. It is expected.” In August, The New York Times asked Prudential Douglas Elliman President and  CEO Dottie Herman what buyers are looking for. After “well-priced,” she said, “they want buildings with gyms.”  


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  • Well, I did everything I could to stop the gym in my building. I wanted to protect my 420 a month maintenance fee...but I relaize now that was shortsighted and I feel like a fool!