The new face of condo gyms

Fit­ness fa­cil­i­ties are the hottest ameni­ties in town, but not all are cut from the same cloth. We look at what “state of the art” re­ally means, and some new de­vel­op­ments mak­ing the most of the fit­ness craze

NOW Magazine - SuiteLife - - Suitelife - By SAB­RINA MAD­DEAUX

Walk into a condo gym in the down­town core and you’re lucky to find an empty tread­mill. Or even enough per­sonal space to stretch. Packed gyms and lines for car­dio equip­ment are now the norm as Mil­len­ni­als trade in their big-box gym mem­ber­ships for con­ve­nient fit­ness ameni­ties just a few floors down. But it wasn’t al­ways this way.

“Gyms used to be an af­ter­thought for con­dos, left­over spa­ces in base­ments where they’d throw in an el­lip­ti­cal and a multi- gym. Now it’s the most-used amenity in any condo,” says Mark Sta­bles, founder and CEO of Move­ment Haus, a con­sult ser­vice for condo gyms. “To­day’s de­mo­graphic, 20- and 30-some­things, they’re de­mand­ing the best. They’re well- ed­u­cated and more de­sign-savvy when it comes to fit­ness.”

But not all gyms are cre­ated equal. It’s of­ten “buyer be­ware” in a mar­ket­place where de­vel­op­ers ad­ver­tise state- of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties on pa­per only to build gyms that more re­sem­ble broom clos­ets than func­tional fit­ness cen­tres.

“A lot of de­vel­op­ers aren’t able to de­fine what state- of-the-art means. It’s one of those terms that’s been thrown around for years now. What does state- of-the-art look like? What does it in­clude? They can’t an­swer,” says Sta­bles.

“Typ­i­cally in con­dos, you need to ded­i­cate a cer­tain amount of pub­lic space to ameni­ties. A gym is usu­ally part of that, but it’s sort of for­got­ten, so you have big build­ings with hun­dreds of units and small gyms with three tread­mills,” says Ben Ro­gowski of lo­cal de­vel­oper Can­derel Res­i­den­tial.

I learned this the hard way. The build­ing

was still un­der con­struc­tion last year when I moved into the King West

Con­do­mini­ums in Lib­erty Vil­lage, and I was naive enough to take the prom­ise of lux­ury ameni­ties at face value.

Not only was the num­ber of ex­er­cise ma­chines in relation to the mas­sive build­ing laugh­able, but it turned out the gym wasn’t prop­erly sound­proofed. The com­plaints from neigh­bour­ing units started in Septem­ber, the gym’s hours were re­duced in Oc­to­ber and then fur­ther re­duced in Novem­ber to the point of ren­der­ing it prac­ti­cally use­less.

Five months later, the de­vel­oper still hasn’t sorted out the sit­u­a­tion, and res­i­dents are stuck pay­ing rel­a­tively high rents or, in the case of own­ers, condo fees for ameni­ties we mostly can’t use.

“Noise is one of the chief com­plaints condo cor­po­ra­tions bring to me when they want to re­design an ex­ist­ing fit­ness fa­cil­ity. It’s im­por­tant to work with an acous­tic en­gi­neer and bring good ex­pe­ri­ence to the ta­ble,” says Sta­bles.

Sit­u­a­tions like this un­der­line the im­por­tance of dig­ging be­neath de­vel­op­ers’ “state of the art” and “lux­ury” come- ons. Look closely at build­ing plans, ask the right ques­tions and re­search the teams be­hind the de­sign. Do th­ese things and you might find con­dos that build great gyms.

1 Yorkville is a 50-storey, 622-unit condo whose de­vel­op­ers in­vested in two floors of ex­trav­a­gant health and well­ness ameni­ties. The fourth floor is a 14,000-square-foot spa area com­plete with a steam room, juice bar and open-air cold plunge pool and hot tub – the only such uni­sex wa­ter cir­cuit in the city.

One floor up is a 5,000-square­foot fit­ness area com­plete with fully equipped gym, yoga/dance stu­dio and cross-fit stu­dio. “Peo­ple are a lit­tle tired of just walk­ing on a tread­mill or sit­ting on a bike. We want to give them op­tions,” says Allen Chan, the in­te­rior de­signer for 1 Yorkville. “The de­vel­op­ers wanted to cre­ate some­thing that isn’t of­fered any­where else. They were will­ing to ded­i­cate this huge space to it, which is some­thing you don’t see ev­ery day,”

Other builders, re­al­iz­ing res­i­dents’ gym ex­pec­ta­tions are sur­pass­ing the de­vel­op­ers’ level of ex­per­tise, choose to bring in out­side help.

Minto 30 Roe, a new build­ing near Yonge and Eglin­ton, brought in Move­ment Haus, which han­dles the en­tire process from ini­tial de­sign con­sul­ta­tion to op­er­a­tion of the fit­ness space. The Move­ment Haus team know ex­actly how many ma­chines gyms need to serve res­i­dents and are well versed in the lat­est work­out trends, so their gyms are on the cut­ting edge of func­tion and de­sign.

“I look at the de­mo­graphic, the size of the build­ing and where it’s lo­cated, then tell the de­vel­oper what they need,” says Sta­bles. “A condo gym in Yorkville with an older de­mo­graphic needs to be equipped much dif­fer­ently than one like Minto 30 Roe, where the res­i­dents will be in their 20s and 30s.”

Minto 30 Roe has a 6,000-square­foot Move­ment Haus, which in­cludes a one- of-a-kind “ki­ne­sis wall,” a spin­ning stu­dio, “grav­ity re­former” ma­chines for Pi­lates devo­tees and a WiFi- en­abled cool- off room. “The space is huge, con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of units in the build­ing. Most de­vel­op­ers would’ve al­lot­ted maybe 1,500 square feet for a condo this size,” says Sta­bles.

Can­derel, the de­vel­op­ers of mega- condo Aura at Col­lege Park, take another ap­proach. They wanted to bring in a brand-name gym to fill the mas­sive 42,000-square foot space they’d al­lo­cated for fit­ness.

“We have 1,000 units in this build­ing, so we thought we had a real op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing spe­cial and not just build the reg­u­lar run- ofthe-mill fa­cil­ity,” says Ro­gowski

The gym owner/op­er­a­tor came in, got a vastly re­duced rent and in re-


turn agreed to pro­vide free ac­cess to Aura’s res­i­dents. “It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion for ev­ery­one, and the res­i­dents get an amenity that’s head-and-shoul­ders above what they’d get else­where,” says Ro­gowski.

Can­derel was thrilled to hook Madonna’s Hard Candy

Fit­ness, which made a se­ri­ous in­vest­ment in the space, deck­ing it out with up-to-the-minute de­signer equip­ment, a unique func­tional train­ing area, a high-tech spin stu­dio that’s the largest in town, a group fit­ness stu­dio, saunas, steam rooms, an out­door ter­race and more. Floor-to- ceil­ing win­dows sur­round the en­tire club.

When it came to the de­sign, it was im­por­tant to Hard Candy to cre­ate a com­mu­nity feel. “It’s a so­cial at­mos­phere as well as a place to work out,” says op­er­a­tions man­ager Justin Elie.

In ad­di­tion to com­mu­nal spa­ces like the group work­out stu­dios and juice bar, Hard Candy’s speaker sys­tem and mu­sic se­lec­tion are top of the line.

“It’s about that party vibe and the power of mu­sic. Be­cause we do such a great job with it, a lot of clients take out their ear­phones and so­cial­ize with other mem­bers.”

But Aura res­i­dents needn’t worry about all that loud mu­sic. “The whole club is acous­ti­cally sound. We did a ton of re­search and plan­ning, en­list­ing sound ex­perts to fig­ure out how we can play mu­sic with a lot of bass with­out both­er­ing the neigh­bours,” says Elie.

With po­ten­tial buy­ers and res­i­dents wis­ing up to de­vel­op­ers’ track records and do­ing more re­search, elite fit­ness cen­tres like those at 1 Yorkville, Minto Roe 30 and Aura surely won’t be alone for long.

When it comes to condo gyms, the Mil­len­nial stereo­type is, for once, on the nose: we do want it all.

Ren­der­ings of 1 Yorkville’s health and well­ness ameni­ties

Hard Candy Fit­ness at Aura at Col­lege Park.

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