Feature Article - June 2007
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Campus Recreation

Blumenthal said that hand-in-hand with synthetic fields, schools are also installing field lighting. "That's because if you have a field, number one it's not lit, so in the winter you're out at 5," he explained. "With the lighting, all of a sudden you can play until 2 in the morning."

The second most common amenity colleges and universities were planning to add were locker rooms, and according to Freedman, there's a much wider variety of locker rooms being built these days.

"We're definitely seeing more variety of locker rooms," she said, "including family locker rooms that are more like private bathrooms with a place to leave your stuff. That's for everyone from the father coming in with his 3-year-old daughter to swim in the pool to people going through transgender transitions. It may be called a 'family locker room,' but it's really just another opportunity for more privacy."

She added that these locker rooms tend to be spacious, handicapped-accessible, and provide more variety with a smaller investment of space.

Many locker rooms in colleges and universities are being built more like locker rooms in health clubs, Freedman explained. "We're seeing more upscale locker rooms, and it's becoming more of a recruiting tool," she said. "It's been that way in varsity facilities for a long time, but it's becoming even more so for recreation centers because they're getting closer to health club standards. You're going to see this more and more with the younger generation. They're growing up with their parents, and even their grandparents, belonging to health clubs."

And sometimes, Freedman said, the locker room isn't even necessary. "We're seeing more hallway-type lockers," she said. "So people can come in their sweats and throw their things in the locker in the hallway. We might put one near where you get on the running track, one next to the fitness center. It's local to what you're doing. When you finish your workout, you're on your way. That's a good way to get more bang for the buck."

Fitness centers were the third most common option that campus recreation centers are planning to add over the next several years, and general fitness was the fourth most common issue respondents at colleges and universities were concerned about. More than 50 percent said this was a top concern on their campuses.

"Fitness is becoming the heart of the facility," Freedman said. "It used to be the gymnasium, but now it's the fitness center with the cardio and weight machines. That's going to be the most highly used part of the recreation center."