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Cortland Expands Portfolio-Wide Fitness Program

Portfolio-Wide Fitness Program
June 2019

Recognizing that society was moving into a more health-conscious place, in 2016 Cortland CEO Steven DeFrancis created what the company believes to be the industry’s first Director of Residential Well Living position. DeFrancis hired Karl Smith, DHeD, to construct a portfolio-wide wellness program to serve Cortland’s residents, who he says were demanding better fitness centers and experiences.

From scratch, Smith built Elevate, Cortland’s residential well-living program. It provides a universal Cortland standard for classes, equipment, instructors and fitness center design. Today, Cortland residents expect high quality at their fitness centers, which helps to increase resident participation and engagement.

In May, Smith rolled out the latest expansion to Elevate – three Elevate Classes, designed by Smith, to “meet our residents at the front door with a great new offering,” Smith says, “as an answer to consumer demand– boutique fitness offerings available just steps from your apartment home.” Elevate Classes are consistently offered across Cortland’s more than 150 communities and 47,000 apartment homes from Atlanta to Tampa to Dallas.

“People gravitate to companies that care about their wellbeing and are likeminded in their approach to health,” Smith says.

The new Elevate Classes, led by Elevate-certified trainers, include:

  • Elevate Circuit: High-Intensity Interval Training-style class, which was the first new Elevate fitness class that Smith designed. It is an hour of high intensity, sweat-like-crazy exercise.
  • Elevate Movement: Bootcamp-style class designed for maximum flexibility that can be done indoors or outdoors, and with or without equipment.
  • Elevate Strength: Cross-Fit-style class that focuses on muscular strength and metabolic efficiency.

The Elevate program was activated from fitness space Cortland already had, Smith says. “They’re designed to be flexible enough to fit in any community, whether there’s a 5,000 square foot fitness center or an open lawn,” he says. “We were able to activate the program with minimal operational capital cost – our primary expense was developing the Elevate certification for our trainers.”

Smith says resident participants have told him that the format, style and pace of the workouts are like boutique fitness classes they’ve enjoyed.

“That is what I hoped to hear,” Smith says. “My goal is to make residents feel like they can give up their gym membership without losing anything. If Elevate Classes provide what you’d get at a boutique gym, why not save your money and time traveling to the gym? Just walk into your community fitness center [and work out].”

Prior to Smith’s hiring, Cortland was like many apartment communities, each tasked to manage their fitness center in their own way. “That [approach] just creates inconsistent experiences for residents,” he says.