Sarah Yaussi is vice president of business strategy at the National Multifamily Housing Council. Opinions are the author’s own.
Wellness and workout amenities can make or break a community for some renters, according to the newly released 2024 NMHC and Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report. The survey, which garnered responses from more than 172,000 respondents, gave renters the opportunity to weigh in on the on-site features that mean the most to them, including the workout and wellness spaces and equipment that they are most pumped about.
When it comes to top fitness amenities, swimming pools are king, with nearly three-quarters (76%) of respondents indicating interest in one, with 23% citing a pool as a must-have. However, nearly as many indicated interest in a fitness center, and a similar share felt a fitness center was an absolute necessity. More than half were interested in a hot tub or sauna at their property, but few considered it a true necessity.
However, given the costs to build and maintain amenities like fitness centers, multifamily operators want to be sure they are investing appropriately in these spaces to meet resident demand. Anticipating usage and figuring out the right mix of equipment isn’t a light lift. But our survey results offer some helpful insights.
Who’s using the fitness center? (And who’s not)
Of the renters surveyed, the vast majority (93%) report having a workout facility on site in their community. Of these, more than half make use of the workout and wellness center regularly, with the total breakdown as follows:
- 7% use it daily.
- 24% a few times each week.
- 7% once a week.
- 17% at least once a month.
By and large, renters who made regular use of their fitness center were happy with the setup in their communities, although 28% were neutral about it and 16% said they were dissatisfied. Of those who felt their facilities could be improved, a majority said that, at least in part, it was because there wasn’t enough of their favorite workout equipment in the fitness center, and nearly half felt the equipment was old and outdated.
Those who rarely or never used the fitness amenities were also asked to weigh in on why they didn’t. Of these:
- 32% said they simply had no interest in using their community’s workout space.
- 21% said that there was not enough of the right equipment.
- 19% said that they already work out somewhere else.
Renters ranked the equipment that was important or very important to them and an absolute must for their fitness center. The clear winners here were cardio machines, free weights and weight machines.
Of the group that indicated that cardio machines were important or very important to them, the most popular cardio option was the treadmill. Elliptical and stair machines were a distant second, each with 38% of those interested in cardio machines noting interest. While a spinning bike like the Peloton was a popular pandemic-era option at 50% in 2022, it finished last on the cardio list this year at only 28%.
There were plenty of other options that were popular, if not essential. They are:
- TRX suspension training equipment (41%).
- CrossFit equipment (40%).
- Yoga equipment (38%).
In addition, fitness classes were considered important or very important by 34% of renter respondents. Among these, 73% were looking for instructor-led classes on site, a percentage that has remained consistent since our 2022 report.
Making sure that renters have the means — and the machines — to live their healthiest lives makes good sense for developers and property managers. With the right fitness features, facilities and amenities, you can ensure that your renters meet their health goals in the new year and beyond.