The benefits of integrating custom gyms

Outdoor fitness on the roof of Chorus in San Francisco

Fitness centers have long been considered a desirable amenity for multifamily homes, but their importance has grown in recent times. The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of many gyms and kept people indoors, leading multifamily residents to rely more on their buildings’ facilities.

This trend continues today and, as a result, residents are now demanding more bespoke and high-tech spaces to meet their fitness needs.

Gym Design Group is a fitness facility and consulting firm that specializes in creating custom fitness centers for multifamily communities. The company’s goal is to develop a fully immersive gym experience that meets the specific needs of renters and aligns with community building.

According to Steve Colwell, the founder of Gym Design Group, the company’s approach is not only about creating an exceptional gym, but also about developing an unparalleled experience for multi-family residents.

GDG Creative Director Stephan Hermann added that the goal is to design a lifestyle center that encompasses the optimal positioning, technology and aesthetics to allow multi-family communities to thrive for developers, owners and residents alike.

Bisnow interviewed Colwell and Hermann about Gym Design Group, their motivation to create custom lifestyle amenities even before the pandemic, and their vision of the future of multi-family gyms.

Bisnow: How did Gym Design Group come about?

Hermann: Our company was born out of the realization that fitness centers and gyms were not optimally designed for multi-family communities. Many fitness manufacturers that offer gym design services tend to prioritize their own brands and products over the specific vision and requirements of the customer.

At GDG, we prioritize wellness and design-driven fitness facilities. We understand that a well-designed gym can increase the appeal of multi-family homes to developers and owners. By providing state-of-the-art fitness facilities on-site, tenants no longer need to seek outside gym memberships, adding to their overall well-being.

Colwell: Our team at GDG brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in gym design, including exercise physiology, nutrition and a range of perspectives on work, education and healing. We view gym design through a consultative mindset, integrating high quality lighting, layouts and designs to create a superior fitness experience for residents. Our goal is to elevate the aesthetic of the average on-site gym and promote a wellness-focused environment for multi-family communities.

Bisnow: What makes Gym Design Group unique compared to other gym designers?

Hermann: The fitness industry has undergone profound changes in recent years, driven by technological advancements, changing consumer preferences and an increased focus on wellness. These trends have also impacted the multi-family sector, where residents are now demanding bespoke, high-tech fitness facilities to meet their needs.

One trend that has gained momentum is the integration of technology into fitness. With the rise of wearables, fitness apps and streaming services, residents expect fitness facilities equipped with the latest technology. This means offering amenities such as interactive screens, virtual lessons and smart devices that can track their progress.

Another trend is the focus on wellness. The pandemic has raised people’s awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and this has translated into the fitness amenities residents seek in their multifamily communities. Residents now want access to facilities that cater to their physical, mental and emotional health, such as yoga studios, meditation rooms and saunas and steam baths.

Colwell: At GDG, we consider these trends when designing fitness facilities for multifamily communities. We work with customers to understand their vision for the space and tailor amenities to meet the needs of their specific demographics. Our focus on wellness means we integrate amenities that promote a holistic approach to fitness, such as outdoor areas, greenery and natural lighting.

All in all, these fitness trends have contributed to a shift in the way people view fitness and wellness. By offering tailored, high-tech amenities that promote a holistic approach to fitness, multifamily communities can attract and retain residents who value their health and well-being.

Bisnow: What are some of your most successful projects?

Hermann: One of our more recent projects was the fitness center at Sunroad Enterprises’ Vive Luxe in San Diego.

The Vive Luxe Fitness Center features a dedicated functional training room, equipped with specialized equipment that allows residents to perform a variety of exercises and workouts. This provides a versatile and personalized fitness experience for residents, tailored to their individual needs and goals. In addition, the main fitness center has a custom dedicated lawn with custom logos of the property on all free weights, highlighting the property’s unique branding.

Vive offers two bespoke outdoor fitness areas, offering residents a variety of fitness options. The first area features a custom-built 12-piece multi-unit from Italy, allowing residents to do a variety of exercises and workouts. The equipment has been carefully designed for more bodyweight training with a focus on a variety of movements and exercises that mimic real-life activities. The second outdoor gym is a dedicated circuit station with different modalities, offering a varied and challenging workout experience. Both outdoor fitness areas have become a major selling point for the complex, attracting and retaining residents who are committed to an active and healthy lifestyle.


An exterior view of Vive Luxe in San Diego

Colwell: Another project we’ve done is with Align Residential, who hired us to design its Chorus property for downtown San Francisco. Amenities include dedicated coworking spaces, skybox lounge, speakeasy with game room, rooftop solarium and rooftop pool and lounge with private cabanas.

The fitness facilities were divided into five core areas with a main fitness center, a functional area, a lawn, a treadmill room and an outdoor rooftop gym. The main gym features cardio, strength and specialty functional training equipment and custom grass areas. Designated areas are designed to allow for stretching and recovery, supporting a wellness experience designed to optimize and enhance any fitness routine.

The roof of the stage structure is dedicated to fitness, both indoors and outdoors. Expansive views of the city provide an urban backdrop while exercising. This distinctive set of amenities – most notably the unique Ninja Warrior-style outdoor fitness environment – ​​has become a point of differentiation for the building among other recently constructed residential towers, illustrating the creativity that often results from challenging constraints.

Bisnow: What do you see for the future of Gym Design Group?

Hermann: As the demand for health and wellness amenities continues to rise in multi-family homes, we are seeing GDG create more tailored experiences for residents. This includes working with developers to hire lifestyle directors who can curate programs and events that cater to the specific needs and interests of the community.

Colwell: We believe that wellness beyond fitness will play an even greater role in the future of multifamily housing. This includes the integration of recovery rooms with cryotherapy, massage chairs and other wellness pods to help people relax and take a mental break from their busy lives. In addition, amenities such as meditation rooms, saunas, and healthy eating options will become more common as people seek a more holistic approach to their health and wellness.

This article was created in collaboration between Studio B and Gym Design Group. Bisnow’s news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

Studio B is Bisnow’s in-house content and design studio. Contact [email protected] for more information on how Studio B can help your team.

The benefits of integrating custom gyms

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