Housing gyms in residential properties

Developers are investing big on gyms, even in mid-size properties, with cutting-edge features, the best of trainers, and by getting sports consultants to design it

Updated - February 23, 2024 01:41 pm IST

Published - February 09, 2024 03:15 pm IST

Until a decade ago, only luxury properties had gyms on their premises. Today, gyms have become mandatory at most real estate developments in Chennai.

From gyms, yoga rooms, open spaces for cricket and football, to indoor halls for badminton and tennis, builders are offering a variety of options for residents to engage in fitness activities. Homebuyers are also preferring projects, which provide such facilities, especially post-pandemic.

A view of the gym inside the Etica Vijaya complex at T. Nagar in Chennai.

A view of the gym inside the Etica Vijaya complex at T. Nagar in Chennai. | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

“As societal trends shift towards healthier living and increased focus on fitness, developers are adapting to these lifestyle changes. Including a gym reflects an understanding of contemporary preferences and positions the development as responsive to current trends,” says G. Diliban, Managing Director of Etica Developers, a firm that primarily focuses on the luxury segment.

“In a competitive real estate market, developers look for ways to differentiate their projects. Offering on-site fitness facilities can be a unique selling point that attracts potential buyers or tenants, enhancing the overall appeal of the development. Real estate developers recognise that investments in health and wellness amenities can contribute to the long-term value of the property,” he says.

T.S.S. Krishnan, CEO of Appaswamy Real Estates Limited, says consumers do look for facilities like gyms while considering a property. But the usage is not proportionate to the excitement, he observes.

While high-end projects have gyms spread across 2,500 sq.ft. to 3,000 sq.ft., the smaller and mid-sized projects have gyms with an average size of 400 sq.ft. to 1,500 sq.ft.

Investments are also huge — in terms of upgrading equipment and getting the best trainers. Property developers are investing anywhere between ₹25 lakh and a few crores on gyms. Apart from this, there is a maintenance cost, which depends on each property. Ballpark estimates show that maintenance alone works up to anywhere between ₹10,000 and ₹1 lakh a month.

According to Navin Kumar, EC Member of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI) Chennai, and Director, Navin’s, the budgets for gyms depend on the location of the project, the type of development and the builder. The profile of homebuyers also matters, he says. “If it’s a property which has senior citizens, you need treadmills for walking and lesser equipment. Whereas if your property is situated in an IT corridor, where many youngsters purchase properties, you need to have a high-end gym with all facilities; and here you also need to constantly upgrade the equipment.” He also pointed out that since many gyms are inside clubhouses, the membership fee is utilised for the maintenance of the gyms.

A view of Navin’s Starwood Towers gym, at Mambakkam, Chennai.

A view of Navin’s Starwood Towers gym, at Mambakkam, Chennai. | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

“When it comes to investment for gym spaces in our properties on a calculated basis for interiors, it’ll cost about ₹10 lakh; and for all the gym equipment, it would be anywhere between ₹15 lakh and ₹20 lakh. So roughly we invest about ₹25 lakh–₹30 lakh on the gym at each of our properties,” Diliban says.

Vimesh P., Senior Vice President of Marketing, Casagrand, explains how spaces are allocated for gyms. “We tailor the size of our gyms based on the number of units within each community. For instance: projects with 120 to 250 units typically offer a gym space of approximately 750 sq.ft. Projects with 250 to 400 units feature a gym area of around 1,200 sq.ft. And communities exceeding 1,500 units enjoy a spacious gym spanning approximately 3,000 sq.ft.”

The company spokesperson of Hiranandani Communities says that its township has a designated gym and fitness centre spread across nearly 2,000 sq.ft. of luxury space and comprises a huge clubhouse. The group has gone beyond fitness gyms to include an 18-hole golf course spread across 50 acres, and another 20 acres for cricket, badminton, tennis, squash, football, volleyball, basketball, hockey, and swimming pool.

The mid-budget projects which have come up in the last three years also have small gyms within the residential premises. These gyms are spread across anywhere between 300 sq.ft. and 500 sq.ft. And in some locations, residents rope in personal trainers.

“Gyms within gated communities help more women, thanks to flexible timings. Youngsters who are into sports visit gyms. And parents find it convenient and safe to send them to gyms if it is within the residential premises,” says 25-year-old Ranjith Kumar, fitness trainer at Navin’s Medavakkam property.

Ramesh Raja, Managing Director of Acme Fitness, who has worked with popular builders like Casagrand, Etica Developers, Akshaya, Ceebros, Godrej and Tata Housing, among others, says, “Before setting up a gym, we ask the developers for the age category of the owners who are buying the property. Generally basements are not recommended due to ventilation issues; it’s either the ground floor or the first floor. Rubber flooring of a minimum 10mm thickness is recommended. And, at a place where it’s good for you to sweat more, proper ventilation is mandatory, but ironically 99.99% of gyms are fully air-conditioned. While some gyms have a spa and shower area, most people in residential complexes prefer getting back home for a shower. Everyone today wants to be fit and look nice. Even an apartment complex with 10 units has a gym.”

Design and research

Real estate developers are roping in consultants who can advise them on how to set up gyms. Rajendra Joshi, Director of Urbanrise, says, “We work closely with experienced designers and layout specialists to create aesthetically pleasing and functional gym spaces. From cutting-edge cardio machines to innovative strength-training equipment, we offer residents a diverse range of options catering to their fitness goals. Meticulously designed with space optimisation, ergonomic layouts, and modern aesthetics, gyms promote the well-being of residents.”

Gyms are also designed by sports consultants. “We get experts and sports consultants to design the gym. At Brigade, our gyms have state-of-the-art fitness equipment, including modern machines, free weights, and accessories, ensuring we meet the varied needs and aspirations of our members,” says Viswa Prathap Desu, COO-Residential of Brigade Group.

Vimesh of Casagrand explains that their dedicated interior design team conducts extensive research to create gyms that cater to the diverse needs of the residents. “From specialised flooring to tailored equipment selection, every detail is carefully crafted to enhance accessibility and comfort,” he says. “Additionally, we incorporate interactive elements such as boxing corners and simulation gyms to offer residents a great environment, surpassing international standards in quality and innovation.”

The best of gym facilites keep both men and women in mind. Diliban of Etica says, “Fitness experts from Acme Fitness have even helped us draw a list of exercises with warm ups and cool downs to avoid any sorts of injuries.”

With changing trends, real estate developers are betting big on housing the best gyms within their communities.

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