Planning Commission

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Feb 07

Fitness Center Growth in Montgomery County

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 6:22 PM by Michael Stokes

The fitness center growth in Montgomery County has been significant over the past decade.  Now every resident has a variety of fitness centers to choose from located near their home or place of work.  As a result, maybe this will be the year that we all fulfill our new year’s resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle.

Fitness centers largely grew up out of an exercise revolution that started in California in the late 1930’s.  Early recreation pioneers such as Jack LaLanne first opened exercise gyms for the public.  Now fitness centers are proposed in all shapes and sizes tailored to meet the exercise needs of everyone.

Basically, the fitness center is a health, recreational, and social facility geared towards exercise, sports, and other physical activities. It may be a for-profit commercial facility or institutional center such as a YMCA.   

The fitness center enables individuals to work out on their own or be part of an organized, group instructional program such as spinning classes, yoga, martial arts, or team sports.  Most facilities offer trainer services to help individuals safely achieve fitness goals.   A fitness center may provide outdoor activities with features such as a running track, swimming pool and sport playing fields.  In addition to providing ways to improve physical fitness,  a fitness center may also provide for social needs with seating areas, non-workout classes, a juice or snack bar, sport spectator seating, saunas, hot tubs, and day care services.  Physical therapy providers can also be collocated within a fitness center.

Fitness center buildings vary in size and design. Small facilities may only include a single room fitness area and locker rooms with a small support/administrative area.  Large facilities include gymnasiums, racquetball courts, indoor and/or outdoor pools, running tracks, food service and retail spaces, and child care.

Fitness centers are generally viewed as commercial uses located in retail districts, shopping centers or business parks so that they are convenient to their patrons.  Some fitness centers are located in repurposed industrial or retail buildings, though most large fitness centers are in new specially designed buildings.  Many fitness center users make short visits of about an hour, typically during the early morning before work, or the evening after work.  Saturday use is typically very high at most fitness centers.  To accommodate the lifestyles of their members, most fitness centers operate with long hours, seven days a week.

Local planning issues to consider in reviewing proposed fitness centers include:  traffic, building height and size, setbacks and buffers, outdoor use impacts to surrounding properties, lighting due to their often lengthy hours of operation, and accessibility by non- motorized traffic.

A former elementary school was transformed into a fitness center in
Plymouth Township

Fitness centers are open long hours to help us all keep in shape

Some fitness centers occupy retail space in shopping centers

Spring Valley YMCA III
Montgomery County has several excellent YMCA facilities providing a
variety of services


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