Bringing the Office to the Gym

by Nancy Ordman

Some companies offer in-house gyms or workout spaces as an employee perk. Now some startups and individual telecommuters are taking the office to the gym.

And why not? In 2016, over 40 percent of U.S. workers reported telecommuting at least part of their workweeks. The number of startups reached a whopping 415,216 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For small startups, working in addition to working out at a gym can make sense. Gym memberships, even at high-end health clubs, can be less expensive than renting co-working space. This arrangement provides a popular perk without incurring an unaffordable expense. The workspaces foster the kind of collaborative work environment in which startups thrive.

"[The trend] kind of coincides with a high-performance individual that considers fitness an integral part of their life," said Equinox Fitness Clubs CEO Niki Leondakis. "There's an exponential amount of people thinking about work-life balance differently."

How did health clubs recognize that they could make money by providing workspaces?  Equinox’s Leondakis said that employees saw Equinox members crowding sidewalks to check email and make phone calls. A yoga center in Washington wanted to keep their space occupied — and earning revenue — during working hours. Flow Yoga Center labeled its co-working option Workflow and included meditation and yoga classes as part of the $80 monthly fee.

Gym-based workspace probably won’t have the same kind of infrastructure, like access to printers and other office-y equipment and services, that a co-working space offers. But the appeal of getting in a convenient daily workout with its side dose of health benefits could overcome any objections.