Feature Article - June 2019
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Colleges & Universities

A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities

There was little change in the past year in the features most commonly found among college respondents' facilities. The 10 features that are currently most common include: fitness centers; locker rooms; indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; exercise studio rooms; bleachers and seating; classrooms and meeting rooms; Wi-Fi services; indoor aquatic facilities; indoor walking/running tracks; and natural turf sports fields.

College respondents were less likely than non-college respondents to report that they have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. While 44.1 percent of non-college respondents said that they have such plans, just 33.3 percent of college respondents said they will be adding features. This is down from 36.5 percent in 2018.

The most commonly planned additions for college respondents in 2019 include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (planned by 26 percent of college respondents with plans to add features)
  2. Fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (16 percent)
  3. Bleachers and seating (14 percent)
  4. Fitness centers (14 percent)
  5. Natural turf sports fields (14 percent)
  6. Indoor tracks (14 percent)
  7. Outdoor sports courts (12 percent)
  8. Exercise studios (12 percent)
  9. Locker rooms (12 percent)
  10. Outdoor aquatic facilities (12 percent)

Synthetic turf sports fields continue to hold the top position among planned features, though the number who plan to add them fell from 32.3 percent in 2018. Commonly planned features in 2019 that did not appear in this list in 2018 include fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment, natural turf sports fields, outdoor sports courts, and outdoor aquatic facilities, perhaps suggesting that some colleges are eager to get their students moving in the great outdoors.


The vast majority—99.3 percent—of college respondents said they offer programming of some kind at their facilities, up from 96.9 percent in 2018. This compares with 96.6 percent of non-college respondents who said they provide programming in 2019. Fitness programs continue to be the most commonly offered program among college respondents. Some 91.2 percent said they provide fitness programs, up from 82.8 percent in 2018.

Other programs commonly found among college respondents' facilities include: group exercise programs (85.7 percent); mind-body balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (79.6 percent); functional fitness programs (63.3 percent); swimming programs (62.6 percent); sports tournaments and races (60.5 percent); educational programs (59.2 percent); individual sports activities such as running clubs or swim clubs (59.2 percent); adult sports teams (57.8 percent); and personal training (55.1 percent).

In addition to fitness programs, other program offerings that are provided by more college respondents in 2019 than 2018 include: mind-body balance programs (up from 71.2 percent); swimming programs (up from 53.4 percent); sports tournaments and races (up from 54.6 percent); educational programs (up from 55.2 percent); individual sports activities (up from 48.5 percent); and adult sports teams (up from 46 percent). Group exercise programs and functional fitness were new additions to the survey in 2019.

College respondents were less likely than non-college respondents to report that they had plans to add more programs at their facilities over the next few years. While 32.2 percent of non-college respondents have such plans, 24.7 percent of college respondents are planning to add programs. However, this is up from 2018, when just 20.6 percent of college respondents said they planned to add programming.

The top 10 planned programs for college respondents include:

  1. Functional fitness programs (did not appear in 2018)
  2. Day camps and summer camps (up from No. 4)
  3. Nutrition and diet counseling (up from No. 8)
  4. Personal training (up from No. 10)
  5. Group exercise programs (did not appear in 2018)
  6. Fitness programs (down from No. 1)
  7. Educational programs (down from No. 3)
  8. Adult sports teams (did not appear in 2018)
  9. Sports tournaments and races (down from No. 6)
  10. Sport training (did not appear in 2018)

New to the list in 2018 are functional fitness, group exercise, adult sports teams and sport-specific training. These programs replace mind-body balance programs, holidays and other special events, aquatic exercise programs and individual sports activities.