Gyms in your Building:  Will owners use it?

Gyms in your Building: Will owners use it?

Gyms in your Building: Will owners use it? Funding it with condo funds? What you will need with Development? Expert advice? upkeep and questions? We spoke with Commercial Fitness Products, and its Owner Richard Wasserlauf 5034 Hiatus Road Sunrise, Florida 33351 I can think of a building we worked on a short time ago bringing a new designed fitness facility in their condo. The committee figured they’d be able to pay that money back to the reserve in five years, assuming 25 percent of the building’s residents would join. (“It was guesswork,” says Richard.) They charged a one-time sign-up fee of $300 and $250 per year for the first person in a unit and $150 for each additional unit resident. “They paid it back in less than two years,” says Richard. Sixty-five of the building’s100 units belong to the gym—84 residents altogether. The early success enabled the committee to cut the yearly fee in half, to $125. “They still covered operating costs,” says Richard, “and allocate about $3,000 a year for equipment replacement—which hasn’t been necessary yet—and continue to contribute $2,000 to $3,000 a year to the reserve fund.” The Building, a 27-story, 156-unit cooperative in Manhattan is a success story. working with developers and board members, helped get the gym project done, converting a 500-square-foot room in the basement into a gym with a budget of a mere $30,000 taken from the reserve fund. Residents pay $225 per year for membership. “The gym has about 100 members today,” says Richard. “We’re well ahead of the game. The membership dues more than replenishes the reserve that we took out for it, and pays for the upkeep.” he adds that, “The building has a healthy turnover of apartments and 90 percent of new buyers join the gym.”   Building the Gym Buying workout equipment is the easiest part of the build-out. “A lot of people think they are going to take the bike room, put equipment in it, paint the walls, and call it a day,” observes Richard Wasserlauf, Owner of Commercial Fitness Products, a leading gym equipment retailer. “In Sunrise Florida, that is not going to cut it.” The first thing you need to need to consider, advises Richard, “is what construction and code obstacles you might need to overcome to pull the project off.” Potential problems include open asbestos, lead paint on the walls, mold or fungus problems, and particularly in basement spaces, pipes that sweat in the summer. Basement spaces also have the issue of exposed pipes, conduits and drain lines. As older buildings replace systems, they often leave old piping, electrical conduits and phone lines in place. Each should be tested and removed if inactive. HVAC is perhaps the most important system in the facility. To meet city code, the gym space must have 15 percent fresh air flowing into the space. If the proposed space for the gym is not already equipped with central air conditioning, ducting will need to be installed if the room does not have a window. If there is a window, you need to install a unit with adequate power. “You’re looking to maintain 68° year round—that often means running a cooling system practically year round,” says Richard, both for safety and comfort—to keep members coming back to the club. If there is any sort of landing or ledge outside the window on which to set a compressor, Heidings recommends a split system, available for around $2,000. Another important code issue with which the gym room must conform is egress—providing a clear and unencumbered path out of the room if there is an emergency such as a fire or loss of power.   Bring in a Pro To get a clear and objective evaluation of the condition of the room, and to get an idea of the construction costs entailed, it’s best to consult an architect right up front, says Richard. “If you find that your construction costs are very high, you may just say this is just something we cannot afford right now—or ever,” unless or until there is a more suitable space available in the building. Some of the major design challenges is inclusion of light. Most often spaces designed for this purpose are in basements or underutilized rooms, and may not have natural light to make the space breathable. Lighting design, therefore, becomes very important. Many gyms find that fluorescent in fixtures aimed upward to soften the light are an effective and inexpensive alternative to high-end lighting. You should also note if the floor has adequate space and structural capacity for both the equipment and the occupants, he says. Another element to consider, say the designers, is noise—both kinds: vibration caused by things like treadmills, which primarily travels vertically downward; and audible, like the clanging and dropping of weights or the thumping of runners. A thick rubber floor like the ones commonly used in commercial gyms addresses both. Rubber flooring for a 600-square-foot gym costs around $5,000, say the pros. A particularly pernicious vibration problem can be solved by laying a floating floor on top of the existing and then putting rubber over that, plus sealing and caulking every edge of the space as well as every pipe intrusion and structural column. A dropped ceiling filled with insulation will keep noise from traveling upward. In luxury condominiums, “Rubber flooring comes at different price points. some have the capability to deliver custom colors and complement the upholstery on the equipment. The gym must have mirrors on approximately half the wall space in the gym, corresponding to the placement of the stretching/ab area and the apparatus. The price range for mirror panelling is typically from $3,000 to $5,000. Lastly, a computerized electronic lock on the door not only keeps the room secure, but keeps track of who is in the room and when, in case anything is damaged or stolen. Plastic keycards, which can easily be passed around to non-member residents, have been replaced by palm or fingerprint scanners, available for…

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