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Fitness Center Design And Installation: Q&A With Gym Source’s Terry Poklar

Gym Source sales associate Terry Poklar has the ideal résumé for a man in his position. Now a bodybuilder and powerlifter, he grew up with a Dad in the fitness biz. Terry earned a degree in marketing and finance from Syracuse while receiving extensive instruction in architecture, CAD and 3D design, experience that afforded him insight into what equipment to incorporate in his facility designs and where to deploy it.


It’s evident this is the perfect pedigree for pumping iron and installing it, but perhaps less obvious is the way in which Terry’s background instilled the principles of discipline, hard work and striving for excellence, which are equally integral in shaping his approach. We sat down with him to hear a bit about it.

Bisnow: What do you observe to be the most frequently overlooked considerations in designing a gym and specifically student housing fitness centers?

Terry: The most common thing I see is unacceptable design and layout leading to poor utilization of the space. Most sales representatives simply move inventory, selling products at their disposal in an expedient way, rather than tailoring equipment selections to the space, its unique strengths and weaknesses, as well as the specific demographic and needs of the client.

Most reps offer one primary brand or line, but, as the oldest and largest distributor in the industry, Gym Source partners with many of the top manufacturers in the space, and works with the top student housing players in the country, including ACC, Vesper Holdings, Campus Evolution and Haven Campus Communities, among many others.

At a time when fitness has been commoditized and some manufacturers are filling in voids in their product lines with machines with inferior design features, Gym Source can provide high-quality, versatile equipment choices creating a custom experience in every facility. Whether the target audience be college students, active aging, athletic training, firefighters and police, medical facilities, etc., Gym Source has superior product solutions and the facility design expertise to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations.


For instance, when installing equipment for students you want to maximize utility, subject to the space and budget constraints. One of the exciting things about the college and multifamily markets is the purchase is not purely cost driven. The current generation is knowledgeable about technology and quality, and they insist on both in their gyms just as in their tablets, cellphones and laptops.

And just as phones, tablets and laptops get thinner, more streamlined, even minimalist in design yet bursting with functionality, so too gyms are now obsessed with offering the fundamentals in a sleek package. The best new products are differentiated by their capacity for flexible usage, convertible for a range of different activities—in one piece.

Bisnow: Can you elaborate on your background and qualifications? How did you get into designing fitness centers, and how do you leverage your business and architecture education in practice?

Terry: The architecture degree helps to bridge my knowledge on the fitness side to the special planning and program side. Also, being proficient in CAD and design software allows me to work with the architects on projects to assure that once the facility is complete, none of the necessary aspects were overlooked or neglected.


I always explain to clients that along with selecting the best products to meet their needs, equally important, or in many cases, more important, are the design considerations and getting the layout of the space correct, which is the component that’s often neglected.

Having grown up in the business I have seen the industry evolve. Fitness has become more mainstream in regards to big-box clubs, YMCAs, etc. On the other hand, we see more niche or target market spaces like sport-specific or performance-based training centers, as well as fitness centers becoming high-profile property amenities in apartments, communities, hotels, country clubs, etc. In each application, you need to make sure you have not only the proper equipment, but the right allocation of floor space.

Bisnow: Did having a father in the business help expose you to it from a young age and serve as an inspiration?

Terry: As far back as I can remember my father routinely trained. Growing up in Ohio we always had a basement filled with equipment. I vividly remember going downstairs with my dad. He would do his workout, and I would pick up the fundamentals of training.

My dad was also an avid fan of bodybuilding and this led to my own exposure to and affinity for the sport. He imbued in me a respect for the iconic figures that established bodybuilding as a true sport.

My father also started a company manufacturing equipment, and when I was young I remember going to his shop and watching as they fabricated the machines. My interest was piqued and in high school I went to work for his business partner, starting out in sales. Throughout high school I worked at health and fitness centers doing retail sales. These formative years shaped my career and were pivotal to leading me to where I am now.


Bisnow: Why do you trust the Cybex brand and rely on Cybex equipment?

Terry: Simply put, Cybex consistently breaks the mold, challenging expectations and redefining quality. It’s design with intent and purpose. Two great examples are the Cybex Arc trainer and the Cybex Bravo Functional Trainer.

The elliptical is one of the most contentious subjects among manufacturers, each claiming their slight variation more closely mimics the natural running motion. In reality, none even come close to approximating it. The Arc, however, actually is revolutionary. No other single cardio piece offers the user a truly correct path of motion, minimizes stress and shear forces on joints, eliminates impact, is proven to burn more calories and offers a vast variety of motions through the adjustment range.

Because the motion’s innate, there is no learning curve. The resultant workout is intense, correct and efficient. I personally own an Arc trainer and keep one in my office in Tampa. Cybex is made in the USA, and yes, there is a discernible difference.

I carry lines made domestically and overseas and I can tell you from experience that the Cybex product has a noticeably higher quality, from the things that matter to your workout, like the attention to detail on how the shrouds meet the frame, to things that matter for aesthetics, the paints and finishes—you can feel and see the difference.

Their unmatched ability to customize colors, finishes and upholsteries gives interior designers the ability to truly create one-of-a-kind impactful-looking facilities that can match any decor.

To learn more about Cybex, click here.