Feature Article - June 2018
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2018 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look At What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


There was little change from 2017 in the top types of programs commonly offered by survey respondents' facilities. These include: holiday events and other special events (provided by 62.3 percent of respondents); fitness programs (59 percent); youth sports teams (58.1 percent); educational programs (57 percent); day camps and summer camps (56.3 percent); mind-body/balance programs such as yoga and martial arts (50.8 percent); sports tournaments and races (46.5 percent); swimming programs (46.2 percent); arts and crafts (45.4 percent), and adult sports teams (44.4 percent). (See Figure 29.) Some 97 percent of all respondents offer programming of some kind. A full 100 percent of Y respondents and health club respondents said they offer programming of some kind. They were followed by parks (99.5 percent of which provide programs), schools (97.4 percent), community sports and recreation centers (97.2 percent), colleges (96.9 percent) and camps (96.5 percent).

As usual, respondents from Ys are the most likely to offer the most different types of programs. They were more likely than those from other types of facilities to provide: holidays and other special events; youth sports teams; educational programs; day camps and summer camps; sports tournaments and races; swimming programs; arts and crafts; active older adult programming; teen programming; aquatic exercise; individual sports activities, trips; performing arts programs; daycare or preschool; special needs programs; and therapeutic programs.

Respondents from health clubs are more likely than others to provide fitness programs, mind-body/balance programs, personal training, and nutrition and diet counseling.

Park respondents are the most likely to provide adult sports teams, sports training, and festivals and concerts.

Finally, camp respondents are more likely than other facility types to provide environmental education programs, camping, water sports like kayaking and canoeing, and climbing programs.

More than three in 10 (31.8 percent) respondents said they have plans to add more program offerings to their facilities over the next three years. This is down slightly from 2017, when 32.2 percent had such plans.

The 10 most commonly planned program additions in 2018 include:

  1. Fitness programs (25.9 percent of those who will be adding programs plan to add fitness)
  2. Educational programs (25.7 percent)
  3. Mind-body/balance programs (23.3 percent)
  4. Teen programs (22.7 percent)
  5. Environmental education (20.7 percent)
  6. Day camps and summer camps (20.3 percent)
  7. Special needs programs (18.9 percent)
  8. Adult sports teams (18.5 percent)
  9. Holiday events and other special events (18.3 percent)
  10. Individual sports activities (17.5 percent)

More respondents in 2018 than in 2017 said they would be adding: educational programs (25.7 percent vs. 24.2 percent); environmental education programs (20.7 percent vs. 20.6 percent); day camps and summer camps (20.3 percent vs. 20.1 percent); special needs programs (18.9 percent vs. 14.8 percent); and adult sports teams (18.5 percent vs. 17.4 percent).

Respondents from parks and community sports and recreation centers were the most likely to report that they had plans to add programs at their facilities over the next few years. Some 39.6 percent of park respondents and 38.3 percent of community center respondents said they had such plans. More than three in 10 respondents from Ys (32.1 percent), camps (30.6 percent) and health clubs (30.3 percent) also said they were planning to add programs at their facilities over the next few years. Just 13.5 percent of school respondents and 20.6 percent of college respondents said they would be adding programs at their facilities.