Way back when, having a “gym” in your building usually meant a windowless room with a forlorn-looking treadmill, some mismatched free weights, and maybe even an old Soloflex bequeathed by a former neighbor who didn’t want to take it with him when he moved from the building down to sunny Florida.
These days, in-house gyms have come a long way—most include state-of-the-art equipment situated in bright, well-ventilated spaces, and some even employ part-time staff members, either as front-desk attendants or full-fledged trainers. But the best-run in-house gyms are no mere accident of fortune—they’re a product of excellent design, based on an understanding of liability, safety and maintenance. Cost, including setup, maintenance and other gym services, is a consideration in and of itself.
With some preparation, installing and maintaining a new gym—or even upgrading an existing facility—in a co-op or condo building can be a project that even board members and other residents with zero construction experience will feel comfortable undertaking. Part of what’s required is self-education; the rest concerns having the right professionals to guide you through the process.
If a building decides to establish a gym, management must ascertain what equipment and activities will be provided for, and how much the space will likely be used. For many buildings, the process begins with the creation of a committee tasked with handling the planning and installation of the facility. The board of directors appoints a group of residents (possibly including some board members) to determine what type of facility would best meet the needs and expectations of the building community.
Since planning a functional, efficient fitness facility isn't simply a matter of buying some weights and calling it a day, one of a gym committee's first duties should be hiring a fitness consultant to give expert insight and help them through the process. The committee, through its own research, input from other residents, and with the help of the consultant, will determine what will make the best use of the planned facility. The consultant will help the committee choose what equipment to purchase, where it should be placed to maximize user experience, and what items they can simply leave out, says Bob Hoshour, vice president of sales & marketing for Ithaca-based Advantage Sports & Fitness, Inc.