Cutting Through the Noise

We live in an age of distraction. While television has long been a distraction that has garnered increasing hours of the day for most people, children and adults alike, with the advent of the screen-that-goes-everywhere-you-do (i.e., the smartphone), the distractions seem greater than ever.

Think about this: In 2014, Gallup reported that the average American got just under 7 hours of sleep per night. That means most of us are awake for about 17 hours a day. Now think about this: Nielsen reported that in the last quarter of 2013, the average American spent 11-plus hours looking at a screen every day—almost five hours of that time spent watching television, and nearly an hour and a half spent looking at a smartphone. And, the same research found that the more screens in a person's life, the more time they spent looking at one.

That leaves us with a little less than six non-sleeping hours to spend on things that aren't a screen. How are Americans filling that time? And how are you competing to ensure they fill at least some of it with healthy activities, engaging in the programs and offerings they can find through recreation, sports and fitness facilities?

A lot has changed over the past couple of decades when it comes to these types of facilities and the activities they make available to the public. As it becomes increasingly difficult to get people to turn away from the screen, facilities have found all sorts of ways to adapt—whether that means enticing them with the option of walking the treadmill in front of a TV screen or it means ramping up the excitement level by providing thrills and entertainment that weren't commonly an option 20 years ago.

From aquatic facilities with slides and shade to playgrounds with ziplines and natural connections, from sports facilities that provide an outlet for local and regional teams to landscape designed to mix green features with green access, the way our parks, aquatic centers, recreation centers, wellness and fitness clubs, and sports fields are designed is always changing to adapt to changes throughout our culture.

In this issue, we offer up an overview of some of the current trends in the way these facilities are designed. We offer a close look at how multipurpose facilities are combining functions such as recreation, fitness, healthcare and more (see page 24), as well as how sports facilities are being designed to attract a wider audience (see page 18). We take a look at how fitness facility design can adapt to fitness trends and niches (see page 14), as well as how landscape design continues to incorporate greener ideas (see page 36). And, we provide an overview of how outdoor aquatic facilities are boosting their ability to attract a wider audience (see page 28).

But if one can say anything about "trends," it's that they're really just a snapshot in time. What's "in" today will evolve and adapt over time, and 10 years from now, while some of these trends may still be going strong, there will be new developments, new technologies, and new ideas and innovations that will completely change the landscape of recreation, sports and fitness. Over and over again.

So read on to find out what's hot now, but pay attention to what's coming down the pipeline! That's the best way to compete with the ever-pervasive screen.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management

[email protected]