Feature Article - June 2020
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2020 Report on the State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


The top 10 most commonly offered programs include: holiday events and other special events (provided by 65.3% of respondents); educational programs (59%); group exercise programs (58.8%); fitness programs (57.6%); day camps and summer camps (57.3%); youth sports teams (55.2%); mind-body balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (51.2%); adult sports teams (46%); arts and crafts programs (45.8%); and programs for active older adults (45.4%). (See Figure 31.)

Most respondents—96.9%—said they offer programming of some kind. A full 100% of respondents from Ys and rec centers said they offer programming of some kind at their facilities. They were followed by parks (98.7%), health clubs (97.3%), schools (97.1%), colleges (96%) and camps (93.3%).

As is usually the case, Y respondents were the most likely to offer the most different sorts of programs. They were more likely than those from other types of facilities to offer: holidays and other special events; educational programs; day camps and summer camps; youth sports teams; mind-body balance programs like yoga; adult sports teams; arts and crafts; programs for active older adults; swimming programs; teen programming; individual sports activities like running or swim clubs; aquatic exercise programs; trips; performing arts; day care and preschool; special needs programs; and therapeutic programs.

Respondents from health clubs were more likely than others to indicate that they currently offer group exercise programs, fitness programs, functional fitness programs, personal training, and nutrition and diet counseling.

Park respondents were more likely than others to offer sport training like golf or tennis lessons, as well as festivals and concerts.

College respondents were more likely than others to offer water sports like kayaking and canoeing, and climbing programs.

Camps were more likely than others to provide environmental education programs and camping programs.

And finally, schools were more likely than others to host sports tournaments and races.

Some 35.1% of respondents in January 2020 said they were planning to add program offerings to their facilities over the next three years, up from 31.4% in 2019.

The 10 most commonly planned program additions were:

  1. Fitness programs (24% of those who have plans to add programs)
  2. Group exercise programs (22.4%)
  3. Teen programs (22%)
  4. Environmental education (21.8%)
  5. Day camps and summer camps (20.9%)
  6. Mind-body balance programs (20.5%)
  7. Programs for active older adults (18.1%)
  8. Special needs programs (17.9%)
  9. Holidays and other special events (17.4%)
  10. Arts and crafts (17%)

Respondents from rec centers were the most likely to report that they had plans to add programs at their facilities over the next few years. Nearly half (48.2%) of rec center respondents said they would be adding programs at their facilities. They were followed by parks (40.8%), Ys (39.5%), colleges (29.8%), health clubs (29.7%), and camps (25.3%). Schools were the least likely to be planning program additions, though 16.8% said they had plans for new programs at their facilities.