Campus communities are active non-stop, and it’s vital to create fitness and recreation areas that are available, convenient and varied, so that all students, no matter their schedule or preferences, can easily participate.
Education environments continue to innovate and change to keep up with student preferences, and multi-million dollar projects are springing up all over the country to upgrade student housing facilities and provide flexible and accessible amenities that rival private housing community options.
“Students want a place that feels like home, with advanced amenities that are designed to engage them and help them move forward in their academics, in a healthy lifestyle and in their personal and social spheres,” said Tim McCarthy, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Advanced Exercise, a fitness equipment and facility design company active in the student housing space.
One of the most common needs expressed by students regarding housing options is the desire to live in a place that offers a well-balanced lifestyle that encompasses every aspect of college life. They don’t want to be compartmentalized. Students today want to be able to learn, grow and live life on their terms all in one place. It might seem fundamental, but accessibility issues including campus parking and long hours become considerations when student housing amenities are being developed.
“Two things are top priorities for my student housing clients,” admitted Ryan McAfee, one of Advanced Exercise’s fitness design consultants: “The fitness centers for student housing are used much more frequently than traditional multi-family community centers, so having durable equipment is a must. Also, the campus rec centers are usually open 18 hours a day because of high demand and student housing gyms are being used similarly. Students want the option of using facilities when it works for them, and they don’t want to have to go anywhere else to do that.”
Student housing property managers are integrating recreation elements, fitness centers on site, common areas with kitchens and other options in order to create that community where the students have everything they need. From golf simulators and billiard tables to workout spaces that might just share an open hallway with a lounge or study space, facilities are being designed with student activity patterns in mind.
Active communities are constantly in motion, always pursuing progress – physically, socially, intellectually, environmentally. They have energy, and they seek out places where they can use that energy to move forward. It takes developed expertise to design, build, rehab and support facilities that meet the needs of these active populations, who expect more from where they choose to spend their time – more options, more convenience, more technology, more awareness around what they want and how they live.
According to American Campus Communities, one of the country’s leaders in the student housing field, the best solutions are those that encompass multiple student priorities. “For us, developing student housing is not just about the bricks and the mortar but about creating communities conducive to academic success, healthy living and personal growth,” said Bill Bayless, American Campus CEO.
Experienced resources like American Campus Communities and Advanced Exercise are getting involved in the evolution of student housing communities in a big way. American Campus Communities is in the midst of a project with Northeastern University to create a $153.4 million student housing community in Boston that will “feature nearly 12,000 square feet of interior amenity and common area space, including social and recreational lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, Academic Success Center, and 2,200 square feet of vibrant retail.”
With 16,000 new undergraduate student dorm beds being created by the project, a substantial amount of housing inventory will be returned to the Boston market, a huge boon for the housing-constrained city. “The transaction was structured under the American Campus Equity (ACE)® program, which gives universities the opportunity to expand and modernize their student housing portfolio without the use of university financial resources” and it’s only one of several that American Campus Communities has underway.
Narrowing the focus to fitness is where Advanced Exercise gets involved in the student housing scene. Advanced Exercise is a leading fitness and recreation design resource that has the right expertise in equipment, flooring and facility layout to maximize space and meet the diverse needs of today’s active users. Whether you’re renovating existing space or exploring new build options, the company is known for recognizing and appreciating that each fitness and recreation space is unique and requires a deep understanding of the goals, location, demographics, space dimensions, and importantly, the budget of the campus. Based on this comprehensive understanding, Advanced Exercise partners with clients across the country to design areas that encompasses all that each student population needs, creating a sense of identity and community that is comfortable and accessible for those who spend time there.
Incorporating fitness, storage, flooring, active recreation and customized amenities into student housing development projects, Advanced Exercise has multi-level relationships with the top equipment providers in fitness and recreation. “We know how to connect students to active fitness and recreation experiences that keep them coming back for more,” commented McCarthy. “We attend to every detail, from the floors on up, creating custom fitness and recreation experiences that make campus a compelling place to be.”
“Student housing properties have a high resident turnover rate, and they find themselves continuously marketing to appeal to new tenants every year,” added McAfee. “Students appreciate upgraded amenities, integrated technology and relevant equipment that gets them excited to exercise on property, hang out with active recreation options and stay on campus.”
Facilities are also taking advantage of students interacting with fitness and recreation resources to strengthen their own branding that students see and respond too. From custom programming on video screens, to wall and floor graphics, frame and upholstery colors and even equipment shrouds that can display custom graphics, campuses are customizing their student experiences at every level, enhancing and optimizing the function of fitness and recreation spaces to reach students on multiple levels. Add to that the adoption of technology features that students are drawn to, and student housing projects can become more complex than single-use facilities.
Student housing renovations are creating dramatic changes in some properties. Advanced Exercise’s Ryan McAfee confesses: “The projects I’m most proud of are the renovations where we work with an older property with an under-utilized space and outdated equipment that students didn’t use, and we refresh it, creatively update the equipment to match the needs of the students, and transform the community as a result.”
— Tim McCarthy, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Advanced Exercise. Founded in 1986, Advanced Exercise is a leading fitness equipment and facility design resource, representing more than 30 equipment brands to bring clients the best new or used equipment solutions to maximize the use of available space and meet the needs of a diverse community of fitness amenity end users. For more information on fitness equipment and facility design services, visit www.advancedexercise.com or call 800-520-1112 to connect with one of Advanced Exercise’s experts.