Condo residents living above Bay View Fitness say noise from gym “is painful”

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BAY VIEW (WITI) — Neighbors of a popular Bay View gym are fit to be tied.  They say noise coming from Bay View Fitness shakes their walls and keeps them up at night. Now, they are contemplating legal action.

Marcus Wong and his wife Grace don't get up in the morning to go to the gym. They get up because of the gym.

"You would hear a boom and then you would feel the floor shaking. The walls would shake," says Marcus Wong. "There are weight drops that are so jarring it hurts."

Gym 1

When they bought their condo in July 2013, they were excited about the up-and-coming Bay View neighborhood.

"We didn't think it was an issue because we understood it was a gym, you know?" Wong says.

But soon after moving in they say having a gym close by became more of an annoyance than a convenience.

"At this point I feel stressful because I cannot sleep at night. If I come home to take a nap I can't because of the noise," says Wong's wife, Grace.

Gym 3"It's like an earthquake," Wong says.

The Wongs have resorted to measuring the noise and keeping a log of every time they get woken up.

Most recently, they spent more than $3,000 in an attempt to soundproof their condo.

Wong says it didn't work.

Now, with the couples' first baby due any day, they're worried their newborn won't be able to sleep either.

The building, located at the corner of Becher Street and Kinnickinnick Street in Bay  View has 21 condos.  Since Bay View  Fitness turned into a 24-hour gym, the noise, residents say, has gotten worse.

Some condo owners who have moved out of state say they are now having trouble renting out their units.

"They would hear really large thumpings on a regular basis that would shake the entire unit," says condo owner Tasha Young. "They [tenants] want to leave, and that's it."

Gym 2John Andrews owns and manages Bay View Fitness. He says the gym has already spent more than $25,000 trying to fix the the problem.

Andrews bought quieter treadmills and took the punching bags off the ceiling. He has installed special flooring, and posted signs telling gym members to be courteous of residents during late night and early morning hours. He says he's even kicked people out of his gym for breaking the rules.

"We can't have our neighbors furious with us and that is priority number one," Andrews says.

While the gym is not a CrossFit gym, and it does not host CrossFit classes, the gym does have a tire that members flip for exercise. Andrews says he's filled the tire with insulation, hoping to curb the vibrations when it hits the floor.

Gym 5The building's developer, Peter Schwabe, says he sympathizes with the Wongs.

"I totally respect their frustration and concern," he says.

Schwabe, who also owns part of the gym, offered to help pay for alternative housing until the Wongs have their baby. He offered them $500 a month to rent a different apartment, but they refused, saying they wanted to live in their own home. Schwabe insists he and Andrews are doing everything they can to alleviate the noise issue. He says it only affects a few owners.

"We want to find a solution to this. We want to keep working with the condo owners," Schwabe says.

The Wongs say their patience is running out.

"We cannot talk because the only thing you feel is vibration and the noise," Grace Wong says.

Craig Schaefer, the lead acoustical engineer at Reidel & Associates specializes in sound.

"More often than not we're trying to retrofit spaces for people who have not thought about this and then all of a sudden -- 'oh I can hear that. I didn't know I was going to hear that,'" Schaefer says.

He says gym noise is like water.

"You wouldn't just seal up one crack in a tub that has four or five cracks and is leaking all over the place. Sound is a lot like water where it can get through a lot of cracks and crevices," Schaefer said.

So no matter how many mats the gym puts on the floor, and no matter how much insulation the Wongs add to their bedroom walls,  there may not be a simple -- or cheap -- solution.

Gym 4

Bay View Fitness is located at 2121 S Kinnickinnic Ave. in Milwaukee.

"The fix is normally going out and tearing out a lot of materials," Schaefer says.

For now, the Wongs are hoping they won't be the ones who have to pay for it. And they warn, as developments like this become more common throughout Milwaukee, potential homeowners need to think hard about whether the home is a sound investment.

The Wongs have called and complained to the Department of Neighborhood Services and the police, but legal experts say the city's noise ordinance doesn't  apply in this situation because noise is measured from the property line, outside of the building.

Still, some of the condo owners say they are considering legal action.


  • wow

    Have normal hours not 24 hours and eliminate the noise makers. ..say 6am until 9pm…eliminate the noisier would be a compromise..

  • ubiquitous king

    Looks like they made the Wong choice. Some gyms have sirens that go off when juice freaks get too loud screaming and dropping weights, it focuses all the attention on the steroid babies. That’s what happens when you use synthetics, you go crazy.

  • R

    So, the gym was there first, and they moved in above the gym knowing it was a gym, and now they are shocked, SHOCKED to find out that…GASP…PEOPLE MAKE NOISE IN A GYM! And now the only answer is to sue, because, hey, they knew in advance they were moving in above a gym and were shocked to find out there might be noise.Maybe next they’ll move in above a bar? And after that, some cheap housing by the airport? And then maybe an outdoor gun range? And finally maybe they can stop downtown on the trolley line! SUE EVERYONE!!

  • biggovhater

    I don’t feel bad for the Wongs they should have known better but suing because you made a bad choice is stupid

  • T

    This whole situation is ridiculous. They moved above a gym!! What do they expect? It’s not like they moved in and THEN they built the gym! I workout at this gym as well and have been there at many different times of the day. I rarely hear people going crazy and dropping stuff all over the place. I was there at 1:30 on a SUNDAY and I heard the neighbors pounding on the walls to stop making noise. Really? Mid-day on a Sunday?? And then to sue the gym of all things? They should have just taken the money from the other owner and moved to another apartment…that’s just stubborn to not make your situation better when being offered money to move! BVF is awesome and I love working out there!

  • Mr T

    Guys, pay attention to the story before commenting. Apparently, the gym was not an issue before it got increasingly popular. As more members joined and heavier equipment added, the problems get worse. Imagine your next door neighbor one day decides to have a rock band playing all day till late night. Someone even pointed out that the gym should not be there in the first place. Furthermore, these are Condo owners not renters who can just move easily

    • staticphear

      It is still a gym they bought a condo over. There was always that chance that it could get popular and therefore be louder. They took a chance, now they have to live with the consequences.

  • axelrose

    Coming from a landlord myself, isn’t the gym violating their lease of regular activities that shouldn’t bother other businesses or residential? Seems like a developer’s fault for poor construction

  • grabowrc85

    Man oh man, if we all cried for bailouts on bad investment decisions! Sounds like the Wongs need to swallow their pride and live with their bad investment.

  • Shocked

    Too noisy? Above a gym, on a busy street, next to a railroad, down the block from Bell Ambulance? That’s a mighty surprise! You thought you were getting a cabin in the woods when you bought your condo in a commercial zone? The gym has been there for several years and has been 24/7 for two years, before these fools moved in. The owner is doing quite a bit to alleviate the problem, but sounding “proofing” a building like that, which wasn’t designed with that in mind evidently, is probably impossible and not his responsibility. Don’t move to the desert and complain about the sand.

  • Jenny

    The thing that gets me is that these people were offered money to move and turned it down, they are sue happy!! The gym has made efforts to solve the problem, it is the construction of the building, so why is the gym getting the flack?!

    • Klo

      “Schwabe, who also owns part of the gym” the building is developed by the other owner of the gym. hmm, i think there is more to this story

      • Jenny

        What, that they intentionally provided improper sound proofing?? That is the dumbest conspiracy theory I have ever heard!

    • Jamie

      The story states they were offered $500/month to rent another place until the baby is born. First of all, who would want to rent when they already own a condo? Second, what kind of place can you rent for $500/month? Third, what about after the baby comes? That will be the bigger problem, new parents already don’t get enough sleep with a baby… Not to mention keeping the baby awake.

  • Milwaukee rider

    the building was built with residential units BEFORE the gym uses that space. should the gym be there in the first place and shouldn’t someone be making sure that it does not disturb the condo units? i would say talk to the association first

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