The New Fitness Center: Embracing Technology for the Next Generation

As wearable fitness technology, such as the Fitbit, continues to evolve, so too do the desires of health-conscious residents. The standard fitness center won’t cut it anymore.

By Stacey McLoughlin, Catalina Design Group

STACEYThe fitness center is still one of the most popular amenities among renters today. However, as wearable fitness technology, such as the Fitbit, continues to evolve, so too do the desires of health conscious residents. The standard fitness center won’t cut it anymore. Multifamily developers will gain a competitive edge, especially among Millennials, by embracing technology in the design of their fitness centers.

Catering to tech-savvy fitness enthusiasts

Developments looking to attract Millennial tenants are challenged to appeal to an increasingly tech-savvy fitness crowd than ever before.

Studies suggest that residents between the ages of 21-34 belong to sports centers and gyms at a higher proportion than any other demographic. They are also more likely to track their own health data and use technology as a complement to their fitness routine.

These gym-goers are used to being connected 24/7, no matter where they go. They take their mobile phones to the gym to listen to music, track their workout progress on their Fitbit and share their new CrossFit “PR” with friends on Instagram.

Keep in mind also that residents are demanding greater flexibility in their everyday lives. This includes working out when they can or want to. And 24-hour fitness centers are not just a perk; they are a necessity for today’s multifamily developments.

Integrating technology for a fuller fitness experience

The desire for connectivity and flexibility is playing out in modern fitness centers across the country. Understanding these characteristics of Gen Y residents, apartment and condo communities can attract residents by integrating technology into their fitness center in a number of ways:

  1. Enable connectivity: Millennials use fitness and health apps twice as much as other generations. Growing up with digital devices has also made this generation master multi-taskers, checking social media and possibly even email while at the gym. Offering Wi-Fi connection within the fitness center will encourage tenants to utilize the facilities without the fear of missing anything important. It also allows them to exercise during the work day while still staying connected, giving them greater flexibility in their workout schedule.
  2. Going mobile: The fitness center isn’t just a place to work out, it’s also where residents can gather and socialize. Placing mobile charging stations in the casual hangout areas of the center is a great convenience to offer the always connected Millennial. Consider outfitting this area with an easy-to-clean lounge or couch to enable light socialization before or after a workout while devices charge.
  3. Fitness on Demand: Globally, 46 percent of Millennials are partaking in community-based fitness courses, such as Zumba, Pilates or yoga, versus 39 percent of those aged 35-54 years old and 27 percent of those 55-plus, according to Nielsen’s Global Consumer Exercise Trends Survey. Virtual classes with technology such as Fitness on Demand give residents a flexible and customizable option to participate in the classes they want when they want them. Residents utilize a touchscreen kiosk to select the class and are then guided through a workout via a pre-recorded lesson projected on a large screen. This is also a great option to provide flexibility in a smaller fitness center, catering to a wide variety of activities.
  4. Tech-Integrated Machines: Feed into the desire to stay connected and to share activities socially with fitness equipment that has built-in technology. Expresso bikes, for example, have integrated software that allows riders to share milestones on social networks including Facebook and Twitter. Offering exciting new equipment is a great way to show residents that you’re a tech-forward brand.

Attracting a new generation of health conscious residents

The fitness center is no longer just a place to work out. With the growing integration of technology into every facet of tenants’ lives, fitness centers need to evolve to meet their needs. Connectivity, social media, customization and flexibility are the core themes of turning the average fitness center into a state-of-the-art facility. In the case of the high-tech fitness center: build it and they will come.

For more than 20 years, Stacey McLoughlin has lead the design team at Catalina Design Group, providing comprehensive interior design services for over 450 projects throughout the West Coast. Catalina Design Group’s diverse interior design and rebranding projects include multifamily, single family, military and senior housing developments.