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RESIDENTIAL GYMS


WORLD WORLD


FOCUS


FITNESS FINDS A NEW HOME


DEVELOPERS ARE INCORPORATING LEISURE FACILITIES INTO THEIR RESIDENTIAL SCHEMES TO ENHANCE EXCLUSIVITY AND ADD VALUE. NEENA DHILLON ASKS HEALTH AND FITNESS OPERATORS IN THE UK AND THE US HOW THIS GROWING SECTOR CAN BEST BE SERVED


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rowse through the property pages of major newspapers and the signs indicate the housing market is on the move once more. As the UK government considers pushing through changes to planning regulations that will allow for more office blocks to be converted to residential, it seems as though our big cities could be on the verge of welcoming a greater number of walk-to-work homes. Property developers keen to promote the benefi ts of their new residential schemes are increasingly listing on-site leisure facilities as a key selling point in their pre-opening marketing campaigns. So as health clubs become an integral part of residential urban communities, what are the opportunities for operators interested in this niche sector?


GROWTH SECTOR UK-based consultancy Motive8 began designing residential gyms 10 years ago, as managing director Nick Sadler explains: “We initially designed home gyms for individuals, which led to us branching out into apartment blocks. As I used to live in New York, where it was commonplace for residential towers to have their own gym, I took inspiration from that model.” The consultancy has since worked with companies such as Barratt Homes and Savills on 140 residential sites in cities across England, many of which are designed, built and managed by Motive8’s 49-strong team. Sadler says there is growth in the sector, partly driven by people taking greater interest in their own fi tness, and partly by developers seeking to maximise their commercial spaces. “In a high-rise block, the ground fl oor is


usually allocated to commercial use, so not only does the installation of a gym give developers an edge over competitor schemes, but it also means they can recover some of their costs via a service charge generated from renting the space back to the tenants’ association. “From the residents’ point of view, think of the annual saving a couple can make when they don’t have to pay separate gym membership, because they have access to facilities on a par with a health club through their service charge.”


IN IT FROM THE OUTSET Residential gyms are no longer an afterthought. Instead, developers are approaching operators at the planning phase of a new build, seeking input into the size, layout and fi t-out of an on-site club. With required services ranging from design consultation to a turnkey solution – where a health club is built, maintained and managed by an operator – business models are typically based on consultancy fees or a management contract. One of Motive8’s latest projects is a 370sq m (4,000sq ft) gym and spa at The Lancasters, a luxury 77-home development by Northacre and Minerva, overlooking Hyde Park in London, UK. Comprising a swimming pool, state-of- the-art gym, sauna, steam and treatment room, the facility is open exclusively to residents. Motive8 is responsible for monthly technical maintenance of the part-time managed site. It also supplies staff such as PTs, fi tness instructors and therapists, who are charged out to residents at a fee, and it has marketed the gym with a bespoke brochure. “We don’t pay rent or other operating costs and enjoy healthy margins by


40 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


Williamsburg Edge – in Brooklyn, NY – offers a ‘lifestyle’ centre


providing services, products and staff to this sector,” acknowledges Sadler. “But there are certain things you have to get right. Developers expect amazing customer service; you’ll need to put in the hours to work with these demanding clients. An understanding of the industry is also required because a developer, architect, interior designer or management company might engage you. “Finally you need an innate grasp of how to tailor your marketing. Affl uent residents may respond to awareness drives in the form of glossy brochures or the offer of exclusive spa products. Others may be motivated by incentives like a free nutritionist consultation if they buy fi ve PT sessions.


“Some of our sites have a daily footfall of 70–90 residents. This is essential to secure future work: you must prove to developers that a gym is a worthwhile investment.”


March 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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