Feature Article - June 2012
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2012 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


Respondents from YMCAs and from health, fitness and sports clubs were the most likely to require staff members to hold certifications, with 96 percent of YMCA respondents and 95.9 percent of health club respondents indicating they had such a requirement. Those from camps and community centers were least likely to require certification, though a majority of respondents from each of those types of facilities said they do require certification. (See Figure 20.)


Although there was a decrease in the percentage of respondents who indicated they require certification of some of their staff members, three of the five most commonly required certifications saw an increase in the percentage of respondents who said they ask for these credentials. The most common certification—CPR/AED/First Aid certification—saw an increase from 84.9 percent in 2011 to 88.4 percent in 2012. Likewise, the percentage of respondents requiring background checks increased from 78.1 percent to 79.1 percent, and those requiring aquatic management and pool operations certification increased from 33.5 percent to 36.9 percent. Other certifications required by more than a quarter of respondents include lifeguard certification (58.1 percent), personal training or fitness certification (29.5 percent), and pesticide application certification (25.2 percent). (See Figure 21.)

Other types of certification, while less commonly required by respondents, saw increases in the number of respondents who look for employees to have or earn these credentials. Certifications that saw an increase of 3 percent or more in the percentage of respondents who require them include: teaching certification (up to 15.8 percent from 11.7 percent in 2011); and athletic trainer (up to 16.9 percent, from 12.4 percent in 2011).


Of the top five most commonly required certifications, YMCAs are the most likely to require four. CPR/AED/First Aid certification, background checks, and lifeguard certifications are required by more than nine out of 10 YMCA respondents, with 97.9 percent of those who require certification asking for CPR/AED/First Aid certification, 94.8 percent asking for background checks, and 90.7 percent asking for lifeguard certifications. YMCA respondents were also the most likely to require at least some of their staff to be certified in aquatic management and pool operations. Some 58.8 percent of YMCA respondents reported that they require this certification.

Health clubs and fitness facilities were the most likely to require personal training and fitness certifications, with 84.3 percent of those requiring certification indicating they require some of their staff to earn these credentials. They were followed by YMCAs, 76.3 percent of whom require personal training and fitness certifications.

Respondents from parks and recreation organizations, on the other hand, were the most likely to require certifications in pesticide application (43.3 percent of park respondents who require any type of certification); playground safety (34.1 percent); and turf and grounds management (16.2 percent). They also were most likely to require at least some staff members to become Certified Parks & Recreation Professionals (CPRPs), with 21.2 percent of park respondents who require any credentials reporting that they ask for this certification.