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Feature Article - March 2018

Inclusive and Multifaceted

The Ongoing Evolution of Locker Rooms

By Chris Gelbach


Trends in Lockers

As facilities try to serve diverse audiences through multiple locker-room options, they're also doing the same through choice of locker types. For the increasing number of gymgoers who don't wish to use the shower or really enter the locker room at all, express lockers and even cubbies are becoming more common in gymnasium, fitness and group exercise areas.

Benches that incorporate cubbies underneath are growing in popularity in both basketball gyms and fitness areas to give people a place to store their shoes or other items. "It kind of speeds up the turnover of the room if everyone's not crowding up around a locker bank, if it's a longer bench," Springs said. For security reasons, Boyer recommends using open cubbies only if they're located in a place where they can be seen by people in the room, and preferably in rooms like spinning rooms that are closed once class begins.

In terms of locker materials, phenolic is continuing to gain prominence. "We generally always recommend the solid phenolic that has a through-color," Ford said. "They're more durable and abuse-resistant because if you scratch them, they're going to be the same color throughout and not show black lines."

Ford also recommends against metal lockers in natatorium environments because of the risk of rust, and against the use of 12-inch lockers because they're too small for shoes to fit in them. For the South Meridian Family YMCA, a recent project that's still under construction in Meridian, Idaho, Ford noted that the client wanted cubbies in each space where people would be working out. To secure smaller items like wallets or phones, a bank of wallet lockers was also included.

While the trend toward more express lockers is prevalent in many rec-center environments, Ford did note that she has seen requests for much larger lockers in destination centers located in more rural environments that attract more families that may travel from farther away and spend a good portion of the day at the center. "For the locker sizes for families that have six kids, they are requesting larger-size lockers and locating them in places where the whole family could access them," Ford said.

As locker rooms continue to evolve, the array of available options make it possible to create more appealing, budget-friendly and comfortable locker-room spaces. But the wealth of options also creates a host of questions that can only be answered by considering who you're looking to serve.

"A lot of our clients wrangle with this," Springs said. "It's a big discussion piece and they're also looking to us for answers, when really all we can do is provide them options. Ultimately, they have to figure out where to spend their budget dollars based on what their community demands are."

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