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


Most respondents—96.9 percent—said they offer programming of some kind. A full 100 percent of respondents from Ys, health clubs and rec centers said they offer programming of some kind at their facilities. They were followed by colleges (98 percent); parks (97.6 percent); schools (97 percent); and camps (95.8 percent).

As usual, respondents from Ys are the most likely to offer most sorts of programs. They were more likely than those from other types of facilities to provide: holidays and other special events; group exercise programs; youth sports teams; educational programs; day camps and summer camps; mind-body balance programs; swimming programs; programs for active older adults; teen programs; aquatic exercise; special needs programs; daycare or preschool; and therapeutic programs.

Respondents from parks were more likely than others to provide: adult sports teams; arts and crafts; sport-specific training; festivals and concerts; trips; and performing arts programs.

Respondents from health clubs were more likely than others to provide fitness programs; functional fitness programs; personal training; and nutrition and diet counseling.

College respondents were more likely than others to provide: sports tournaments and races; individual sports programs; and climbing.

Finally, camp respondents were more likely than others to provide environmental education and camping programs.

More than one in three (31.4 percent) respondents said they have plans to add more program offerings to their facilities over the next three years. This represents virtually no change from 2018, when 31.8 percent had such plans.

The 10 most commonly planned program additions in 2019 include:

  1. Group exercise programs (27.5 percent of those who have plans to add programs)
  2. Fitness programs (27 percent)
  3. Educational programs (26.6 percent)
  4. Programs for active older adults (25.9 percent)
  5. Mind-body balance programs (24.5 percent)
  6. Teen programs (23.4 percent)
  7. Day camps and summer camps (23 percent)
  8. Holidays and other special events (21.8 percent)
  9. Environmental education (21.8 percent)
  10. Special needs programs (21.6 percent)

This was the first year that group exercise programs were offered as a separate option from fitness programming in the survey. Other programs that are planned by more respondents in 2019 than in 2018 include: fitness programs (27 percent in 2019 vs. 25.9 percent in 2018); educational programs (26.6 percent vs. 25.7 percent); programs for active older adults (25.9 percent vs. 17.1 percent); mind-body balance programs (24.5 percent vs. 23.3 percent); teen programs (23.4 percent vs. 22.7 percent); day camps and summer camps (23 percent vs. 20.3 percent); holidays and other special events (21.8 percent vs. 18.3 percent); environmental education (21.8 percent vs. 20.7 percent); and special needs programs (21.6 percent vs. 18.9 percent).

Respondents from parks were the most likely to report that they had plans to add programs at their facilities over the next few years. Some 37.2 percent of parks respondents said they would be adding programs at their facilities in the next three years. They were followed by Ys (37 percent of whom plan to add programs), rec centers (35.5 percent), health clubs (27.1 percent), colleges (24.7 percent) and camps (21.9 percent). Just 12.2 percent of school respondents said they had plans to add programs at their facilities.