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Abundance in New York’s Real Estate

    Does my headline sound like a contradiction? I realize life is full of them. Do you happen to be a gym member? I am. Have you noticed the peak and valleys in members’ attendance? I have. That of course implies that I am a regular gym member so that I can observe this phenomenon throughout the year. Not that this is new. Even gym management knows about it and I would imagine, management could not care less. Why would they? The memberships are prepaid, either for the entire year or for the month. The fewer the members who come to the club the less the wear the equipment suffers.

    Tonight it hit me. There I was on my treadmill, six treadmills (yes! six treadmills) away from the next gym member during the 5:30 to 7:30 time slot that, in theory, is the busiest one. Where was everybody? The floor with the free weights was not too populated either in spite of the new rope that appeared only two weeks ago hanging from the ceiling inviting everyone to test their climbing abilities. Compared to last week’s excited chatter of the trainers and gym members who gathered around the rope in awe (and in secret hope that they could climb that rope as fast as Jack Shephard climbed out of a dark, bottomless well in LOST’s final season—if not faster), tonight’s silence, pierced by the occasional and timid “cling-cling” of the free weights used by a member on the bench next to the window facing Lexington avenue, was striking. This got me thinking.

    Since I moved to New York in 1995, I have joined several gyms. First, there was The Racquet and Health Club on 12th Street off 5th Avenue. Then, there was the NYU gym on Houston Street, followed by Lucille Roberts on 5th Avenue and 14th Street (I was very poor at the time but I thought that finding an inexpensive gym was a necessity), followed by the NYU gym on 14th Street, followed by the New York Sports Club on 14th Street, followed by Synergy in Astoria, followed by The New York Sports Club on 59th Street, to, finally, Equinox, my current haven on 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue where I have been going since 2005. So many gyms have given me such a consistent experience over the years. I am referring to the valleys of gym attendance, those long periods of time when New York gyms—built on expensive real estate—remain empty or, at the very best, so scarcely populated that the receptionist, completely exhausted by boredom is ready to hug you as soon as he swipes your membership card.

    From a financial point of view, this type of real estate is like gold. From an economic point of view however, I cannot help but think of the waste. Such an abundance of prime quality square footage goes to waste unused, deserted, silent and sad when so many who need to access it have never heard the “swoosh” of the rowing machine or the “sweesh” of the cable machine. Ah yes! Life is full of contradictions.

    Post by Thomai Serdari ( We welcome guest posts. Email us at