Posted on December 18, 2018 by Gordon Smith

Student numbers are rising, with both UK and overseas students very keen to study at the UK’s world-leading universities and colleges. As a result, the UK’s student accommodation sector is fiercely competitive. More developers than ever are fighting to access a market worth in excess of £4.5billion.

This trend is not showing any signs of slowing down either. The number of purpose-built student accommodation spaces has increased to 602,000 during 2017/18. A staggering 30,000 new bed spaces were delivered during the 2017 academic year alone.

Millennial lifestyle

There’s no doubt that student numbers will continue to grow. Gen Z – those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s – now make up 25% of the UK population. This generation (as a trend) prefers juice bars to pub crawls. They are far more likely to value a modern gym with good equipment over proximity to a broad range of kebab shops.

Buoyant demand is good news for those planning new student accommodation sites. But it creates a competitive environment where developers have to try harder to win business. They have to make sure they don’t just provide a solid offering: they also need to exceed expectations in order to stand out.

There are all kinds of ways to do this – from providing well-appointed and well-designed communal spaces, to boosting the tech offering in rooms.

However, the most cost-effective way is by providing the very best gym option. And while adding gym facilities requires investment, it doesn’t need to cost the earth.

Standout gym facilities

What matters most is that your gym facility itself matches the needs of users. We have seen a real evolution in thinking around this as the sector has grown.

Location of the gym is key. A gym situated adjacent to communal areas is far more likely to attract users than one located down in a basement or on the top floor of the building.

The gym space itself is also needs consideration. It’s not just a case of building a room and installing a treadmill. It needs to big enough to accommodate a few people at once, and have standout interior design.

By positioning fitness in proximity to social facilities, and not in walled-off private spaces, student engagement and use will naturally increase.

With the now widely-established fact that exercise can improve mood, confidence and ability to think clearly, accommodation providers are on the front line of the march towards better student health.

“For today’s students, well-being is key. There’s a rise in awareness of the potential downsides of University life: social isolation, poor health, stress and anxiety. It all means accommodation providers must serve a market that demands attention to student well-being and health.”

Nick Sadler, Managing Director of motive8

Getting it right

Designing, building and running a gym is usually outside most developers’ core remit or focus. Working with a specialist gym consultancy can avoid the typical mistakes that some developers make when adding a gym to their development.

Students now expect their gym to meet a pretty high specification. With smartphones a standard feature of student life (the last research suggested 90% of people between 16 and 24 have one), it’s vital that student gyms offer state of the art interactive equipment.

For some, that will be top of the range treadmills, featuring interactive touchscreens offering internet, TV and iPod connectivity. The latest gyms also offer state-of-the-art spinning bikes, elliptical cross trainers and rowing machines.

Typically, these will be complemented by a selection of free weights, a dual adjustable pulley cable machines, multi adjustable benches and various studio kit including medicine balls, punch bags and kettlebells.

Getting all this right isn’t easy. Student gyms need to be planned properly. You need to take into account everything from natural light, room shape to accessibility and continuity with the existing building.

At motive8, we have not only perfected the art of gym design and installation, but also of matching the right option to the client’s needs. Whether it’s repurposing existing facilities, or designing and installing a bespoke solution from scratch, we’ve got it covered.