Stock fitness

In an age where many people are focused on getting and staying healthy, commercial real estate properties are adding fitness centers to attract and retain tenants.

According to Chuck Herman, owner of Specialty Fitness Equipment in Warrensville Heights, and Scott Simon, president of North Pointe Realty in Cleveland, amenities like fitness centers allow buildings to stand out.

“The competition among building owners to lease space is fierce and the need to differentiate is more important than ever,” Simon said. “Today’s tenants are sophisticated consumers who are choosing where they want to work based on specific preference and access to fitness is at the top of the list.”

Herman said, “It’s becoming more common, because the competition is fierce to get tenants and what these developers or owners of these buildings need is amenities that are valued by prospective tenants. This is the key to differentiating. Specifically, with fitness, they’re trying to create a live, work, play attitude, so to speak. They want their employees to be able to work out, shower and have a locker room all at work.”

Herman added many companies are also becoming fitness-focused, so it doesn’t hurt to have a building with a gym or facility on-site.

Simon said since it’s a popular option, he receives requests from clients of all ages seeking buildings with on-site fitness options.

But for Herman, he finds young to middle-aged professionals place the most importance on having fitness opportunities at work.

“This is kind of that space for millennials where it is important to have that,” he said. “For me, my business has a showroom, but the equipment is also able to be used by my employees. But with these buildings, it’s really like an arms race. It’s about going for the wow factor and setting the high bar.”

Both professionals said building owners can expect a higher tenant-retention rate with on-site fitness options.

“You’re attracting quality tenants when you have these big amenities,” Herman explained. “More and more companies make wellness a big part of their corporate culture. With the fitness, it’s also a social/communal area and you’re building camaraderie. It’s a place where people can connect, keep healthy and be happy.”

Simon added, “When employees exercise, they want both consistency and efficiency. They want to be able to work out on equipment that they are comfortable with and to get their workout in without having to travel far. Plus, exercise makes people happier and more productive, which is a win-win all the way around.”

Though this has been more common in recent years, Herman said on-site fitness options have been a draw for a while.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years (setting up fitness centers) and I remember the first corporate fitness room I did was back in 1997,” he recalled. “And they’ve changed over the years, and in 1997, that was kind of out of the ordinary. But, you have building owners and developers realizing that it’s a must-have to include these amenity spaces to create that corporate culture of live, work, play. It retains top talent.”

No matter the type, both professionals said amenities, in general, are a popular addition to commercial properties.

“Office environments are changing so quickly,” Simon stated. “They are becoming denser and more collaborative, with more co-working areas and less private space. So, the ability to escape to a completely different environment that allows different social interactions and private time becomes really valuable.”

Herman added, “Everything is about being social and communal. These amenities need to be multi-purpose and equipped with connectivity. Since we’re so hyperconnected these days, amenities also need to have the ability to meet that.”

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