Feature Article - May 2020
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Create Community on Campus

Fitness & Wellness in College Recreation Facilities

By Rick Dandes


While recreation centers widen the scope of their offerings, never forget the basics, Sherrard said. "When it comes to equipment and activities, you want to have flexible fitness zones for individual training to various-sized group training spaces. This is critical to providing options and flexibility for all students with varying degrees of body consciousness and abilities."

And, "the customization aspect of functional training fitness has opened the door for some pretty amazing, dynamic and engaging fitness opportunities."

But fitness spaces are just one aspect of 'whole' student wellness focus, he explained. Bouldering walls that engage one's whole body for balance, strength and focus are growing in future fitness and recreation spaces, as they offer a less intimidating, more social, yet challenging climbing experience.

The flexibility of functional cross-training equipment has opened the door for some incredible, dynamic and engaging fitness opportunities, Sherrard said. Moveable fitness gear that facilitates climbing, jumping, flipping, slamming, balancing, etc., add endless variety to one's fitness experience.

Some other unique offerings Sherrard suggests are ninja courses suspended over aquatic areas, as well as integrating kinetic climbing structures. These add interest and energy to existing program amenities, he said.

Ohle explained that you should offer a mind-body suite of yoga, light therapy, massage and personal trainer space. He also suggests a diversity of indoor synthetic court types for club-sports needs: basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton, and pickleball.

"We are designing a 20,000-square-foot indoor turf venue for Forest County Potawatomi Tribe in Crandon, Wis.," he said. "The functionality of indoor turf for club sports is invaluable. Some of our clients are using the space for soccer, ultimate, lacrosse and functional fitness."

Post-pandemic, said Braam, we'll likely see more and more repurposed recreation facilities designed to foster a culture of sustainability, healthy lifestyles and disease prevention. The new recreation centers will combine the best aspects of a fitness center, health clinic and research lab, have a green roof with vegetable and herb gardens, a healthy bistro, a research and educational grocery lab, and meeting and classroom space.

You have to plan for the unexpected, Ohle said. Spaces must be multipurpose. Everyone seems to need to attract partners in wellness. "I see few dedicated to one-event kinds of spaces, which means … more convertible rooms. What began with operable walls and push-button drop-down curtains and basketball goals has grown to push-button drop-down volleyball nets and sky-fold walls. I am using drop-down curtains in group exercise rooms to cover up mirrors for multipurpose function use." RM