Feature Article - May 2011
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Suit Yourself

Locker Rooms to Fit Your Facility

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Fitting Your Function

With these key components in play, the way you format your space, select the hardware and features you'll include, and put it all together should be determined with special consideration of your users (once again) and the activities your facility will offer. While the basics are the basics, some situations merit particular additional attention.

Aquatics: Whether your facility is exclusively dedicated to water activities or the pool is just one of your offerings, this has an impact on the locker room. In some cases, local health codes will dictate how the locker room must be arranged—so that patrons pass through a shower area as they enter and exit the pool deck, for example. You'll also want to devise strategies to keep wet patrons and dry patrons out of each other's way. "Wet and dry people need their own territory, but there can be common space, such as the vanity area, so there's still some efficiency with square footage," Springs said. One suggestion? Make sure you can get from the water to a toilet without traipsing through the whole locker room, Rollhaus noted.

You'll want to steer clear of carpeted floors and wooden or metal lockers in "wet" locker rooms, as perpetual dampness can wreak havoc on these finishes. Opt for a sturdy plastic (score some green points here by choosing recycled materials) or phenolic locker (available in an array of colors and even wood grain) and perhaps some sort of tile and antimicrobial mat flooring that minimizes slipping and helps keep feet (and anything that falls on the floor) out of puddles, Springs suggested.

A crowd-pleasing finishing touch is a "suit spinner" or swimsuit water extractor. It's much nicer to pack up and go if you don't have a soggy suit to put in your bag—especially if you're off to work or school.

Ice rink: Anytime ice skates are involved, you'll likely want a rubber floor, rather than any sort of tile. If your facility will host hockey teams, think big, suggested Hayes. "Ten or 20 people with bags of gear take up lots of space, and they're hard on the space. They have sticks," he noted. Go for jumbo-sized lockers to hold gear—perhaps even the kind with extra ventilation, a pull-out stool or a built-in seat—and extra-wide doorways and walking paths. In consideration for the spirit of competition, providing separate locker rooms for opposing teams, as well as for the officials, is a good plan if space and your budget allow. And at the opposite end of the ice-use spectrum, figure skaters will need "counters, mirrors and lots of power when they're getting ready," Hayes said.

To be successful, most ice rinks have to cater to a variety of users, Houston noted. Pro or high-level club hockey teams might use the rink, along with coaches giving figure skating or hockey lessons, and public skating sessions. This means you may need two or three different locker rooms to support these various audiences. Any pros will likely want their own restricted space, and club skaters will need a locker room and access to showers, while recreational users just need a spot to change their shoes and skates and a lockable place for their valuables.