Feature Article - June 2019
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2019 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


Of those respondents that require certification, the most common types of certification required included CPR/AED/First Aid (required by 89.1 percent of those who said they require some staff members to be certified), background checks (85.4 percent), and lifeguard certification (60 percent). (See Figure 25.) More than one-quarter of respondents also require an aquatic management/pool operations certification (35.6 percent), personal training/fitness certification (30.1 percent), food service certification (27.4 percent) or pesticide application certification (26.5 percent). More than one in five require a coaching certification (22.4 percent).

Respondents from facilities that include aquatic elements are obviously much more likely to require lifeguard and aquatic management or pool operations certifications for some of their staff members. While 60 percent of all respondents who require certification ask that some staff members achieve lifeguard certification, for those with aquatic facilities, that number jumps to 87.8 percent. And while 35.6 percent of all respondents require aquatic management and pool operations certification, 54.6 percent of those with aquatic facilities do so.

Given the varying nature of their operations and programming, it comes as no surprise that some industry segments are more likely to require certain types of certification than others. Respondents from parks were the most likely to report that they require pesticide application certification (40.4 percent), playground safety certification (31.3 percent), Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification (18.7 percent), turf and grounds management certification (14.5 percent), and security or law enforcement certification (13.6 percent). Ys were the most likely to require background checks (100 percent), CPR/first aid/AED training (98.6 percent), lifeguard certification (83.3 percent), aquatic management and pool operations certification (48.6 percent), and childcare/early childhood education certification (48.6 percent). Schools were the most likely to require coaching (66.1 percent) and teaching (57.9 percent) certifications. Camps were the most likely to require food service (54.7 percent) or climbing (32.1 percent) certifications. Health clubs were the most likely to require personal training or fitness certifications (84.4 percent). And finally, colleges were the most likely to require athletic trainer certifications (34 percent).

Facilities & Construction Plans

We've been asking survey participants how old their main facility is since 2013. In that time, facilities have aged from an average of 27.5 years in 2013. In 2019, respondents' facilities are, on average, 33.5 years old—a slight decrease from last year's 34.4 years. Slightly fewer respondents in 2019 than in 2018 said their facilities are more than 41 years old. Some 7.2 percent said their main facility is just 5 years old or newer, up from 6.2 percent in 2018. Another 21.9 percent said their facility is between 6 and 10 years old. Some 21.9 percent of respondents' main facilities are between 11 and 20 years old. Another 30.9 percent have main facilities that are between 21 and 40 years old. And just about one-third (33.2 percent) said their facilities are at least 41 years old, down from 34.3 percent in 2018. Of those, around half (16.5 percent of all respondents) said their facility is at least 50 years old, down from 17.6 percent in 2018.