Special Report:
Recreation Management’s First Annual State of the Industry Report

Our First Annual Recreation Forecast

Would you believe there are more than 1,000 waterparks just in North America? How about the fact that more than 41 million Americans belong to a health club? Did you know that tennis is making a comeback in popularity?

No doubt, the recreation industry is vast and wide, from an archery range in Alabama to a waterpark in Wyoming, including every community center, stadium, arena, ice rink, gym, park, pool, health club, sports field, golf course, resort, camp and playground in between.

Whatever the endeavor or the geography, recreation can mean big business. This we know. But in what direction is this big business headed? Could be anyone's guess.

Well, not just anyone's guess. We put the pressing question of the state of the recreation industry to an array of experts, casting our net across many disciplines, hoping to catch plenty of trends and analysis along the way.

The fishing was good. Based on their own experiences, observations and/or research, our experts from national associations, top planning firms and other leading industry organizations shared their projections, thoughts and wisdom with us. In turn, we are offering an educated and unprecedented glimpse of the leading trends in the managed sports, fitness and recreation market for 2007 and beyond.

Some of the information may seem straightforward, while some may surprise you. One way or another, we aim to help define the industry and its various trajectories. By uniquely organizing the industry's current pile of collective knowledge, we hope to provide a forum for painting a clearer picture of the years ahead.

So without further ado, here's the latest word on the street.

Mega-Trends Favor Growth in Aquatics

The aging population, lack of exercise and poor diet trends will have a huge impact on public health in the future and creates an opportunity for the aquatic industry. Poor diet and too little exercise encourages obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases, which in turn cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States each year. Health-care costs to treat these long-term chronic diseases is expensive and will make health care less affordable and less accessible during our lives and our children's lives.

Our aging and sedentary population will have to exercise more to reverse these alarming trends. Unlike most, aquatic activity is ideal for young or old, active or sedentary, impaired or healthy people to improve their quality of life and to reduce the demands on the health-care system. As more people participate in aquatic activities, the supporting industry has much to gain.

Society sorely needs aquatics. Pools and spas are ideal for people to receive beneficial activity to help reverse chronic disease trends, however, the lack of education within the industry presents a barrier to safe and healthy aquatic venues and growth to the industry. Sadly, today, 60 percent of all states have no requirement for verifiable, standardized training for people who operate public pools or spas. Training standards for people who clean and maintain residential pools are even lower or nonexistent.

Cost often is sited as the reason to oppose training, yet the cost of injures is rarely considered. In 2005, about 5,000 people were made ill in documented recreational water illness (RWI) outbreaks. Untold more may have been affected, but the outbreaks were not recognized and documented. About 600 drowning deaths and about 2,800 drowning hospitalizations occur each year. If health departments and companies fail to require verifiable training to educate professionals in order to reduce risk, then ongoing drowning, illness, and injuries will continue; legal liability will grow; and market growth will be stifled. To better benefit mankind, this educational obstacle must be overcome.

Unfortunately, documented RWI outbreaks have been trending up for more than a decade. The majority of documented outbreaks have involved chlorine-resistant pathogens like cryptosporidium (crypto). Fortunately, recent research is showing there are ways to prevent and minimize outbreaks due to this microorganism. One of the most promising is ultraviolet (UV) light systems. In the future, it is likely that all public pools and spas will include a UV system or other technology to inactivate chlorine-resistant pathogens. Future industry innovations likely will use filter enhancers, chlorine dioxide, ozone or other technologies to prevent illness.

There will be ongoing pressure for aquatic facilities, like any other athletic business, to maintain and improve profitability. Financial viability will continue to drive innovation in facility design and programming. Design and programming parallels the fundamental business principle to focus on the customers' needs. Fun facility features that emerged in waterparks will be applied to more public pools. Programs that are tailored to different populations are emerging and will be refined. The need for programs that attract young, old, sedentary, active, disabled and healthy populations will continue to grow. These populations will be drawn to aquatic facilities as aquatic health benefits become more widely understood and accepted. In addition, medical professionals and insurers are likely to encourage people to become active in improving their health as research, publications and the media illuminate aquatic health benefits.

Technology will take on a larger role in aquatic facilities. Some technologies are already widely accepted. Automatic controller use is increasing in challenging environments like public spas and wading pools, providing an easier and more effective way to maintain sanitary water.

Others technologies also are emerging. For example, video cameras interfaced with computers are helping lifeguards prevent drowning. Remote and Web-based monitoring and controllers are helping operators maintain water chemistry and improve scheduling, detection and problem-solving. Web access to information will educate consumers who will then demand higher standards at aquatic facilities. Leading health bodies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already are recommending that consumers check the water with test strips before entering the water or informing management. Enhanced disinfection and filtration will emerge as tools to prevent RWI outbreaks. More technology at the facility will require a more educated staff. Fortunately, technology to train professionals is advancing with blended-format (part online/part in-class), online training and Spanish materials.

Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D.
CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation

Aquatic Facilities and Splash Play Areas

In the aquatics market, the private sector is going great guns right now, as exemplified by a number of private waterpark projects that have come on the scene, as well as significant activity in the housing industry.

Resort hotels with major indoor facilities for year-round use are cropping up at a rapid pace, with a concentration in the Upper Midwest. In the housing market, developers are using aquatic facilities to assemble lifestyle features that will attract home buyers.

Along with these private-sector trends, in the public sector, more modest aquatics facilities increasingly are being specified. While there is not a decline in this sector, smaller scale facilities, such as splash play areas, have become more popular because they are less expensive and do not require the amount of maintenance or staff support as larger, pool facilities.

The reason for growth in this market is economics. These kinds of aquatics solutions enable communities with extremely limited resources to still provide recreational opportunities for youngsters but with minimal investment.

The "small-town" market is one, in fact, that seems ripe with opportunity. As such, Williams Architects, through a joint venture, is working to develop a prototype for an aquatics solution that will be affordable to smaller communities in rural areas.

Through the program envisioned, the firm, which has designed more than 100 aquatics facilities, would assist a community-or group of proximate communities banding together-in identifying and tapping financing options, as well as would offer the client a "pre-packaged" design for a basic aquatics facility with a price tag of approximately $1 million. The design could be adapted easily to include additional facilities, such as a teen activity center.

This approach would seek to harness local resources and conceivably feature participation by a range of community groups. This kind of program-as with building a standalone splash play area-can provide a way for small, rural or cash-strapped communities to develop recreational opportunities on an incremental basis.

Partnerships formed to achieve facilities offering benefits for multiple entities are another trend in the recreation market.

By allying resources, organizations can achieve jointly what may have been out of reach had they pursued a project independently. Such partnership arrangements offer a "win-win" solution for groups looking to maximize recreational benefits.

Michael T. Williams
Founder and CEO of Williams Architects Ltd.

Education for Professionals

The future and health of the aquatics industry worldwide rests in education. Distance study programs (online) are a growing trend that enable schedule flexibility and increases access to those currently employed and to those around the globe. Like other industries, the aquatics industry will witness a trend in training and education that allows the student to study online.

The ability of aquatic professionals to obtain an education in their field will build a stronger knowledge of swimming pool facility management, thus a healthier and safer environment for all who use the facilities. Online education also encourages a network with other professionals where they can share real-life experiences, solve problems and find solutions.

Connie Gibson Centrella
Program Director of the online Keiser College Aquatic Engineering Degree Program

Collection of Industry Facts and Projections

Below is a representative summary of research accumulated by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) regarding the international amusement and attractions industry.

American amusement parks hosted more than 300 million guests in 2004. These guests took more than 1.5 billion rides. The amusement and theme park sector is a global industry that generates an estimated $20 billion per year.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Entertainment and Media Outlook for 2006-2010 included several interesting projections. Here are a few notable points:

Theme park spending is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 4.5 percent worldwide. This means spending could expand to an estimated $27.6 billion (USD) by 2010.

The United States will continue to be the largest market for theme parks, growing at a compound annual rate of 3.6 percent. By 2010, theme park spending in the United States could reach $13.4 billion.

Asia is expected to grow the fastest over the next four years at a compound annual rate of 5.9 percent, generating an estimated $8.2 billion by 2010.

With a weaker U.S. Dollar, U.S. destination parks are expected to do quite well as the incentive for international tourism increases.

Demographic trends are leading parks to emphasize a multigenerational experience that includes toddlers and grandparents as well as teenagers and traditional families.

Robert Ek
Technical Writer for IAAPA

Trends in the Challenge Course Industry

Few people these days do not know what a challenge course or ropes course is. Parents know them-their kids have done them at camp or in school. Corporate employees know them-they've been on a team-building day. And in the world of recreation, the challenge course is being adapted in such areas as zip tours or canopy tours, as a method of exploring the canopy of rainforests, while adding some excitement to the trip.

New challenge courses continue to appear in many venues. Physical-education departments in many schools have instituted adventure programming, programs serving youth at risk have discovered the power of adventure, and camps continue to discover the developmental opportunities available on the course. Courses are built to serve a specific program or, in the case of many in public venues, to serve many different types of groups.

When deciding how to design a course, the most important thing is to design the program first. There are many different challenge-course elements, both low and high, and they can be built in different configurations, each with its strong points for certain types of programs and certain age groups. Many courses now also include provisions for universal access, so that persons with disabilities can also be fully included in programming.

One of the issues facing this industry is the differentiation between the challenge course and an amusement device. The major differences lie in the purpose of the device-challenge courses are primarily an educational tool, used with a specific outcome in mind, for an intact group of some sort. Amusement devices, on the other hand, fall in to the category of entertainment and are used on an individual, pay-to-play basis.

In some states, regulatory bodies are now looking at challenge courses from a regulatory perspective. The industry is working with these regulatory bodies as we can, to educate about challenge courses-who we are, what we are and what we are not-so that appropriate regulation can be developed when necessary.

Climbing facilities are sometimes a part of a challenge course, when used as a part of the educational program. Separate climbing facilities exist in many other places, as well, as part of a recreational facility. The recreational climbing community, as represented by the Climbing Wall Association (CWA) and Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) work together in many instances where our industries intersect.

Standards for facilitator certification are being developed now. These standards will set the norms for certifying facilitators, although ACCT will not issue the certifications; individual certifying bodies will issue the certifications. Under development for two years already, the standards should be issued sometime in 2007.

Sylvia Dresser
Executive Director of the Association for Challenge Course Technology

Recreation + Higher Education = Success

There is a strong movement toward cementing the relationship between collegiate recreational sports and the goals of higher education in general. The notion that some administrators have of recreational programming being just a "nice perk" for college students is not only outdated but does a tremendous disservice to those very students that a college or university wants to become educated, engaged, happy, productive members of society.

The bottom line is: Moving forward, the most successful collegiate rec sports departments are going to be those that best align themselves with the goals of their administrations; that work across departments to educate the whole student; and that incorporate standards and assessment tools when making their cases for more money, more staff, better facilities and more respect for the important role they play in shaping students' lives.

Katherine Otten
Assistant Director of Marketing for the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association

Collegiate Sports and Recreation Venues

First, there are very few schools with an adequate number of sports and recreation fields; instead, many have aging athletic facilities and limited real estate. Therefore, there is a great need to maximize space and versatility, especially with the rising costs of construction.

One example in particular is at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., where we are designing a unique hybrid athletic stadium, aquatic complex and inter-collegiate facility. The benefits of the project stem from the tremendous economy of combining these programs into one unified facility. This includes an A-shaped stadium with seating on both sides of the structure that faces the field on one side and the 50-meter pool on the other with locker room facilities, athletic offices, meeting rooms and classroom space. The project also includes the construction of an adjacent below-grade parking structure with a synthetic turf field on top to maximize the durability usage for the university and its limited field space.

In addition to a very dynamic building section, the economy of space, money and mechanical infrastructure resulting from this mixed use led to a 10 percent to 15 percent savings of square footage and construction costs. In this case it probably equated to $2 million.

James C. Braam, AIA
Senior Project Designer
Cannon Design

Recognizing a Facility's Many Roles

Einstein searched during his lifetime to develop a Universal Theory that would tie the many strands of physics together into one theory enabling us to understand the entire universe. As we look to the future of the sports and recreation facility, there is a definite need for the design professional to understand and explain the many roles that such a facility is called upon to perform. The fulfillment of this need would enable us to set goals and benchmarks for the elusive "perfect" facility of the future-a facility that acknowledges the broader roles it can and should be playing in its community. In a world of diversity, there can be a physical personification of those universal values that have the ability to enrich the community, the family and the individual, while transcending race, color or creed.

The potential for future facilities to create positive influences in their respective communities are numerous. Although it would require an architectural Einstein to draw all of these into one facility, these are just a few of the dynamics to be considered in its design:

Health and Wellness


Leisure, Relaxation and Socialization


Economic Development



Retention of the Natural Environment

Social Policy Advocate

Youth Policies

Community Building

Community Values

Immigrant Integration

Democracy and Politics

J. Terry Barkley, MAIBC, MAAA, AIA
Vice President, Cannon Design


Going forward, I can see everyone focusing on integration.

The key to growth obviously always has been increasing the number of people that use our facilities. How well we integrate our products, programs and delivery systems into the community, and how well we can integrate the diverse components with each other, ultimately will affect the success of this growth.

We have been touting the overall impact of the architectural and customer service experience for the members and users of our facilities. The lasting impression that our facilities deliver is still a highly important component in our design. However, integrating separate components such as the medical model (i.e. hospitals, physical therapists and doctors) into wellness and fitness facilities will go far in reaching more people. People that are ill, recovering from an illness or in need of health support are being introduced to the benefits of wellness activities. The word and impact will spread. The challenge is whether the medical industry can learn from fitness in terms of sales, experience and fun. Likewise, can fitness learn from hospitals the importance of measuring success-the result-oriented perspective so prevalent in the medical culture? The product that integrates these two dynamic industries in an appropriate way will be a very powerful force. The integration of facilities aimed at specific groups such as kid's fitness, women-only, upcoming men-only fitness clubs, seniors, etc., into the population also will be a strong force. We already have seen the effects of the women-only niche groups. There is a lot of room for growth in other specialty service area. Kid's fitness, men-only, sports conditioning, etc., has just started to be tapped. More important is how these diverse components are interlinked with each other and presented to the general population. Specific niche markets allow us to penetrate deeper into the general population. As architects, we are very interested in exploring how the aesthetics and experience of these programs can be tailored to fit with current models, especially in super-clubs where everything is under one roof.

Consequently, high-end fitness and wellness facilities, as well as low-end gyms, are capturing specific demographic groups and enticing more members to join.

Soon, the integration of other business components will come into play. Will insurance companies, employers, tax strategies, etc. adjust to support the wellness movement in our culture? Without the support of these important financial factors our growth will have limits.

Lastly, how can the integration of green architecture into our facilities help us grow? It is ironic that fitness and wellness facilities have one of the lowest ratios of green building. We should promote healthy building as well as healthy bodies. The real savings in reduction of dependency on fossil energy as well as the emotional, physical and marketing benefits of a green building cannot be ignored. A commitment to healthy, energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive buildings will reinforce our dedication to the health and well-being of our patrons.

Rudy Fabiano, AIA
Fabiano Designs

Five Key Points

Community recreation centers need to embrace technology as easily as any corporate facility. Fitness equipment, now and in the future, will be connected to the Internet. Fitness logs, real-time competition and online coaching have become a reality. Weight fitness equipment is rapidly changing and will take advantage of connectivity to enhance fitness enjoyment and effectiveness.

College recreation buildings are here to stay and will evolve, incorporating program elements such as libraries, student centers, wellness and clinic facilities. University campuses are beginning to add to the variety of programs and activities in recreation centers, blurring the definition of a student recreation center and a student union. This fusion of activities is an exciting evolution of the building type and reinforces the mission of most colleges and universities to achieve a balanced academic, social and healthy education.

Recreation buildings are becoming more iconic. These facilities have become an important component of the social fabric of many communities and are being identified as points of pride. They are a tangible expression of the value a community places on quality of life and represent an optimistic investment in the future.

Recreation facilities need to be designed for future growth. As word spreads about the benefits and value of the facility, an increase in the culture of use can be anticipated that will necessitate the expansion of the facility. The facility should be designed with a growth plan to protect the architectural integrity and to assure the site will be adequately sized for its future success.

Continued awareness of the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices will accelerate demand for recreation/ fitness centers in the municipal and college and university communities. As people learn more and more about their health and how to maintain it, greater emphasis will be placed on access to facilities with the latest amenities and programs.

Dave Larson, AIA
Senior Vice President of TMP Associates, Inc.

Facility Funding and Partnerships

While the demands for municipal recreation continue to grow, cities are being hard hit by rising construction prices and even thinner financial resources. In order to overcome the financial obstacles prevalent in today's marketplace, an increasing number of communities are taking a more aggressive approach in finding innovative ways to fund projects, particularly the community recreation facility. In addition to such creative financial tools as state sales-tax initiatives, corporate donors and the increased availability of grant funding-such as energy grants for sustainable building design-communities are becoming increasingly creative in finding ways to attract strategic partners with compatible vision and goals.

Although it is not uncommon to see partners in community recreation facilities such as libraries, community theatres, hospital wellness programs and partner cities, an increasing number of communities are considering these associations and other public-private partnerships as a means to provide the financial support that enables a dream to become reality. While partnerships can include physical and/or contractual relationships (no, we're not talking about couples here), communities are becoming more creative in establishing strategic alliances with compatible organizations such as neighboring communities, schools, day-care providers, YMCAs, Boy's and Girl's Clubs, corporations, and even private fitness providers. While it is important to determine these partnerships early in the process and preferably before the design phase is initiated, it is equally important to organize facilities with maximum flexibility to allow for adaptation to changing programs and markets.

Reed I. Voorhees, AIA
Vice President, Cannon Design

Establishing the Standard

Many club owners, personal trainers, certification agencies, educational institutions and professional associations are beginning to see the value of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association's (IHRSA) recent third-party accreditation decision. IHRSA went on record in 2003 recommending that as of January 2006 its member club owners hire personal trainers holding certifications from organizations accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or whose curriculums were accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and/or the United States Department of Education (USDE).

The NSCA Certification Commission recognized the importance of building certification exams around nationally recognized standards and became the first fitness-related credentialing agency to acquire NCCA accreditation for its CSCS and NSCA-CPT certifications. Becoming the first NCCA-accredited fitness certification granting organization was a major accomplishment and a major step toward establishing and maintaining credibility and validity in the fitness profession, however, the decision was made so the fitness industry and consumers could benefit. The CSCS and NSCA-CPT credentials acquired NCCA accreditation in 1993 and 1996, respectively, and since IHRSA's announcement the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Council on Strength Fitness (NCSF), and the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) have acquired NCCA accreditation.

Scott Bonertz
Marketing Analysis Specialist, NSCA Certification Commission

Program and Equipment Trends

IDEA Health and Fitness Association reports some interesting trends in its 11th annual 2006 Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey. Outreach programs to reach the beginner and inactive person continue to rise as health clubs and YMCAs look for ways to reach this audience.

Interestingly, 60 percent of health-club facilities are offering personal training for youth, which outpaces 37 percent of facilities offering school children fitness-oriented classes or camps. Personal training remains the most frequently offered program by 84 percent of health facilities, and at 68 percent, personal training with two clients at the same time continues to be popular.

One element to note: Fitness assessment of people who are either new to the facility or beginning a specific exercise program continues to rise with 84 percent of facilities now using some form of assessment.

What's new or interesting? Keep your eye on the Gyrotonic exercise system, which uses Gyrokinesis (www.gyrotonic.com/gyrokinesis.htm) principles as the basis to exercise the musculature while mobilizing and articulating the joints. While the percentage of facilities offering this unique from of exercise is low, the projected rate of growth is very high.

While Pilates has grown rapidly and seems to be leveling, look for Pilates Fusion (combination of Pilates with strength-training) to grow. Balance equipment (BOSU Balance Trainers, disks, wobble boards, balance boards) continues to grow, and we feel this may be due to a renewed focus on preparing our aging population on maintaining their balance and flexibility.

And we will see a continued focus on reaching inactive or obese children with a variety of programs like personal training, kids fitness camps, dance, hip hop, etc. The challenge for the traditional fitness facility is creating an environment that feels friendly and safe for kids. Look for special school programs or "kids only" facilities to enter the marketplace.

Kathie Davis
Executive Director of the IDEA Health & Fitness Association

Embracing Technology

We see several major trends converging in the fitness and lifestyle industries, one of the most apparent is an increase in the consumer demand for more advanced technology at the gym. Members are more tech-savvy today and are looking for new ways to measure progress and keep motivated. As a pilot program, elements incorporated "smart workout" technology in two locations (Atlanta and downtown Charlotte, N.C.) this year.

Working with an European equipment partner, the smart workout technology was designed to automatically calibrate the equipment to a member's preference, records her workout, tracks her heart rate and makes recommendations for future progress. A LCD screen at each machine made reporting easy. Members received complimentary sessions with a lifestyle consultant monthly to track their performance and suggest other ways they can improve their programs. This proved to be a powerful model for the club to sell additional features such as diet coaching, personal training or premium classes.

We have made the commitment to use smartcard technology exclusively in our corporate and franchised clubs.

Christopher Palumbo
Director of elements diet and fitness

Fitness Facilities

Based on a recent BCA survey of park and recreation agencies in Illinois and Wisconsin, we are seeing fitness center trends that include increasing space allocations, memberships and revenue. These fitness increases are related directly to society's increased physical inactivity, rising obesity, aging society and increased stress. Fitness centers are increasing in size, and the overwhelming majority of survey respondents indicated that they would increase the size of their fitness center if they could. So in this case, bigger is better. The average fitness center comes in at 3,240 square feet with a space allocation of slightly more than two square feet per member. Fitness memberships at Illinois agencies have increased by 13 percent since 2000. So it stands to figure that along with all of these increasing fitness trends, revenue is up. More than half of the survey respondents indicated that their fitness center was the top revenue-producing space in their facility. Our suggestion is to error on the high side when planning fitness center improvements.

Daniel R. Atilano, AIA
BCA Architects

Workout Trends

One trend we see is strength equipment becoming more aesthetically pleasing, easier to use and less intimidating with more user-friendly designs and fewer adjustments.

As more people understand the benefits of strength training and why strength training should be a key component of every exercise program, we are seeing a broader-than-ever cross-section of people who are strength training. But because many people who are starting to strength train may not be inherently inclined to strength training, we need to make the transition as easy as possible for them with machines that are inviting and easy to use, so we reduce user intimidation.

Another trend we see is the desire by exercisers to get the maximum exercise benefit in a minimum amount of time, which has led to the development of strength machines for express-type workouts.

Some people who strength train want to get total-body workouts but move quickly from one machine to another, without waiting for the next machine to become available. The express circuit concept is perfect for this, because users can move quickly through the circuit without delays. In addition, some people want to do both cardio and strength training but don't want to spend an hour working out. The express workout can use strength machines in a way that gives users a total-body strength-training workout and at same time maintains their heart rate throughout the circuit. So they're combining the elements of traditional cardio and strength training into the strength workout. The next logical step is intermixing strength machines with some form of cardio, so users move quickly from machine to machine and their heart rates stay elevated between each piece.

In the university recreation market, universities have realized that they need to have amenities such as fitness centers and recreation facilities for their students. A fitness facility in the recreation center has become an essential tool for attracting prospective students to campus. But outfitting fitness centers requires more than placing some cardio pieces and a few sets of free weights. Recreation directors demand and expect their fitness equipment manufacturer to provide a full range of equipment-including cardiovascular and strength equipment-and other services, such as facility layout support and training.

In addition, in an effort to reduce user intimidation and make the facilities appeal to a wide range of students, universities are creating dedicated areas in the fitness facility for specific functions, such as stretching and core training, adding multiple free-weight areas and putting in rack systems for power lifting.

Universities also are expanding the overall size of their facilities and want personal entertainment on cardio equipment.

One of the biggest trends in Ys across the county is increasing the number of activity programs for children and teens to encourage physical activity and address the ever-growing problem of weight gain in these populations. To this end, there is a new synergy between Ys and schools to encourage kids to get physically active and involved in Y programs and activities. Ys are going into schools and teaching something similar to a P.E. class or an after-school program at the school. Schools also are letting Ys pass out their program guides, and they're much more open to Ys marketing themselves within the school districts to encourage kids to go to the Y and become active and participate in the programs that schools don't provide anymore. Many schools have eliminated their physical-activity programs-both in-school P.E. and after-school activities-so they're now being more open to Ys coming in and encouraging the kids to go to the Ys to get some physical activity. Whereas previously schools perceived Y after-school physical activities as competition, today they're not because many schools don't have those programs anymore.

The trend toward increasing activity programs for children and teens in Ys has changed some of the old rules and policies. Previously, many Ys had age limitations, e.g., 16 years and older, for who could use the fitness centers. That age limit has dropped considerably now. Most Ys now allow kids 12 years and older to come into the fitness center and use the equipment. With this has come new training and programming to help younger people be able to use the fitness equipment effectively and stickers on the equipment that identify what pieces they can use.

At the other end of the spectrum is increasing the number of programs for seniors.

More and more Ys are offering seated aerobic classes where the entire class is done in a chair, with the exception of some potential balance activities or stretching. They use other pieces of equipment during the class, such as beach balls, medicine balls, bands that get tied to the bottom of the chair, etc. The chair becomes the senior's personal workstation in the group-exercise room. Then after the class, many Ys will conduct social events for the seniors, such as pot-luck dinners, or chess club or bridge club meetings, giving the seniors several hours of interaction and activity at the Y.

Another trend is the development of multigenerational centers. These centers may include a small library, a computer, and perhaps a foosball or billiards table. Then, the Ys program these centers for seniors in the mornings and for teens in the afternoon. So they're using the same space and the same tools for both populations and getting a lot out mileage out of the same center.

Tim McCarthy
Vice President of National Accounts for Life Fitness

Taking the LEED

The green building movement is continuing to pick up steam. We all have a duty to protect our natural world, but building green is no longer just a nice thing to do for the environment-it's now becoming a requirement. States like Washington and Nevada, as well as municipalities throughout the country, now require new publicly funded buildings to be built to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, and many more state and local governments have legislation in the works.

Alex Linkow
Marketing Manager for Clivus Multrum, Inc.

Adaptive Reuse

Whether you call it renovation, remodeling or adaptive reuse, sports and recreation facilities are being re-worked to extend the limits of their useful lives. Several trends play a key role when institutions choose renovation and expansion over new construction.

First, construction costs continue to rise. The costs of steel, concrete, and petroleum-based products such as roofing and plastics have sky-rocketed during the past few years. Administrators and managers are capitalizing on the cost-savings that can be realized from using existing systems and infrastructure.

Second, green design, or "sustainability" as officially termed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is growing increasingly more important. The adaptive reuse of a facility means that one less demolished building will find its way to a landfill. Considering that nearly half of all landfill space is taken by construction-related fill, the environmental impact is significant. Not only does sustainable design address environmental concerns, but the energy-saving principles help to keep operating costs low as well.

Lastly, land is a precious commodity for urban institutions. By reusing existing (and often revered) older buildings, land space can be preserved. Furthermore, the sentimental value of some older buildings can be translated into additional capital through alumni interest in saving such a landmark.

David Miller, LEED
Vice President, Cannon Design

Legislative Trends
On the State Level

Business Regulation

AEDs: Legislation mandating Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in health clubs continues to be introduced across the nation. There are currently laws in nine states mandating AEDs, seven of which provide sufficient liability protection for health clubs and their employees against use or non-use of an AED. The most recent legislation adopted was in Michigan.

Sales Tax: This past fall, proposals to add a sales tax on health club memberships were introduced in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The New Jersey measure of fall 2005 failed to move forward due to strong opposition, however the newly elected governor has recently submitted his own proposal to expand the sales tax to health club memberships. In Pennsylvania we received feedback that the Senate voted against a sales tax on memberships.

Overall, we see a continuation of the trend from last year: More bills are introduced that would repeal the sales tax on health club memberships or exempt health club memberships from certain taxes (Connecticut, Kansas, Missouri, New York, Vermont, Washington) than bills that would implement a new sales tax. However, most of the bills to repeal or exempt do not move forward.

Personal Trainer Licensure/Certification: The only legislation we have seen relative to the licensure and certification of personal trainers is in Georgia. This bill has been referred to a study committee, which means it will not be considered for passage in 2006.

Health/Wellness Promotion

Physical Education: Measures that would require Physical Education in schools continue to dominate the health promotion agenda at the state level.

Wellness Credit/Deduction: There are several initiatives allowing for tax credits/deductions for wellness expenses and a few measures encouraging various workplace activities that support public health through exercise. Unfortunately, these measures rarely advance.

On the Federal Level

The health club industry is promoting two bills to increase physical activity through tax incentives:

IHRSA's Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R. 1634/S. 772) would allow employers to deduct the cost of health club memberships for their employees and would ensure that this benefit would not be classified as additional income to employees.

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Bill (H.R. 5479) would allow expenditures for exercise and physical activity, such as health club memberships, some exercise equipment and sports programs, to be payable out of various tax-favored investment accounts: flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), medical savings accounts (MSAs) and/or medical reimbursement arrangements.

Marisa Traniello
Legislative Analyst for the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association

The Merger Continues

Wall Street isn't the only place to see lots of merger and acquisition deals in 2007. With the growing popularity of yoga into mainstream America, look for more classes that combine mind-body experiences to develop. The growing popularity of such classes of Cy-Yo, which is a cycling/yoga class offered in the Boston area, as well as such classes as Budokon, a yoga/martial arts class, are just the tip of the iceberg for yoga hybrid developed classes. Bringing yoga breathing techniques and spiritual awareness into Western-based cardio classes is the next step in the evolving group-fitness arena.

The demand for these classes will only increase as type A personality fitness students expand their horizons to incorporate ideas of using the positive and negative energy that resides in their bodies to maximize their workout time.

Curt Dalton
Boston fitness instructor and creator of Cy-Yo

Failing Grade

In spite of shocking childhood obesity rates and calls from Congress, the Surgeon General, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for high-quality daily physical-education programs, most states receive a failing grade on P.E. requirements, according to the latest "Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA" by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Heart Association (AHA).

Fitness Equipment

There will be two major drives to the equipment side of the fitness industry: customer service and information technology.

Facilities want products that work and they want service levels from manufacturers to increase to help them make maintenance of the equipment as easy as possible.

With Internet connectivity at our fingertips, products can be diagnosed/monitored/repair/maintained more easily because we can determine the component failure via an Internet interface and send the right part with the service technician the first time.

The second trend will follow the above, which is connectivity and access to information. Equipment will be able to collect workout data more easily and be sent to the users via an e-mail update, etc. Imagine that every time you workout, you receive an e-mail that summarizes your workout, shows your progress over an extended period of time and progress toward a specific goal. This also will continue to help personal trainers work with customers whether they work out at home or at a fitness facility. The connectivity options will continue to offer information at our fingertips.

Brian Davidson
National Sales Manager/Commercial Division for SportsArt Fitness


As Pilates continues to rise in the fitness world, a few trends are developing that savvy community centers and YMCAs may want to capitalize on. First, the older adult population continues to grow. There are now 77 million Baby Boomers in America. Loosely defined as those born between the years 1946 and 1964, Boomers represent nearly 27 percent of the entire population, and 32 million of them are over the age of 50. The Boomers were there at the beginning of the fitness craze in the 1970s and still want to remain healthy. Yet many can't run or lift weights like they did 30 years ago. Pilates can be a perfect fit for this segment.

In addition, the false perception that Pilates is just for women is also changing as male participation climbs steadily. A wide variety of professional sports teams-including the Tampa Buccaneers of the NFL and the New Jersey Nets of the NBA-are experiencing an elevation in performance due to the increase in core strength and flexibility that Pilates gives them. Many centers are using this as a valuable marketing tool to attract male members to their Pilates program.

Finally, specialty classes are also on the rise. Pilates for golf, tennis, equestrians, pre-/post-natal women and more are popping up all over the country. These classes are usually very successful because they help a center bring members of the community with similar interests together and can actually improve their athletic performance.

Ken Endelman
Founder and CEO of Balanced Body, Inc.


In 2005 there were about 16 million Americans who said they practiced yoga, 85 percent of whom were women. About 2.2 million of them did yoga within the commercial club industry two years ago (in 2004), and among this number there was a higher percentage of men (almost a quarter). Most adults in the club market were young: 49.6 percent under 35, and almost 80 percent under 55. Those are the populations that will be most attracted to Pilates in clubs. In the near term, the number of Americans who do yoga will continue to grow in the face of the popularity of Pilates and other disciplines that borrow some people from yoga's potential reach within facilities in the short term. Therefore:

In health clubs, modest growth in yoga may continue in the next few years.

The real growth will be outside the club sector and not just in the home market (from videos).

Yoga is being introduced to the 55+ generation in resorts, hotels, community centers, YMCAs and other facilities, where it will become a centerpiece of their offerings to seniors. Given the almost 80 million aging Baby Boomers who are accumulating aches and pains and limitations from a lifetime of stress, over- and under-use trends, and who wish to be able to enjoy their extra time and avoid injury and falls from poor balance as they wind down careers, empty nests and retire, the future of yoga among their numbers will be very strong.

Male Baby Boomers will take a special initiation to get started, and it will be some time before the teaching of yoga is customized to attract them by meeting their needs and supporting their learning in a smaller, more personalized environment. Private and small group yoga instruction will become more the norm for non-traditional yoga populations who cannot stay with a large, intense class or learn easily on their own from an exercise video. Eventually, health clubs also will see the enormous opportunity in teaching yoga to men and other "non-traditional" yoga populations (Note: It seems odd to think of the non-yoga crowd as non-traditional.)

Yoga also is being introduced to the young in schools for a variety of reasons. For girls, it is used as non-competitive way of helping them to be active and develop positive body images to counter the effects of image stereotyping. For boys, it can be a way of helping them to relax and strengthen muscles without feeling they have to compete.

What will assure that yoga continues to grow in the long term and becomes a habit for many millions more Americans is the fact that it is such a flexible activity: It can be practiced by anyone, any time, any place, and without any special equipment or clothes. There is chair yoga, which can be done in an office or on an airplane. Yoga can be done for five minutes as a warm-up while standing or as a cool-down. It can be done on the floor or on a bed for those who cannot get up. Its benefits become more obvious and varied the more you do it and transcend physical fitness and balance or stress relief.

As yoga grows, it will as an industry generate many more millions of dollars, perhaps equaling the massage industry, which is currently several times its size ($10 billion + vs. $3 billion). Much of this will be in facilities.

Tennis: Great News for Clubs

With "play" up more than 23 percent in the last two years and 15 percent more frequent players in the game during the same period (more than 5 million strong), tennis clubs can feel more confident than at any time in the last two decades that there is momentum behind what they do-and need to continue doing.

Some of the momentum is from the turnkey programming related to "growing the game," the industry-wide strategy now being emulated by golf and other "traditional" sports on the decline. The good news for tennis: It is the only traditional sport that has increased participation in the last six years.

For those clubs who sell racquets, there is more good news: Premium racquet sales were up 48 percent in 2005. With junior racquet sales up 20 percent last year, dealer optimism is up in racquets, balls and footwear. This means more shelf space-visibility for tennis in shops for industry-wide programming like Tennis Welcome Centers (TWC) in 2006 is greater than ever:

30 million special labels grace tennis-ball cans

2.5 "starter racquets" have hang tags for TWC

1 million shoe boxes have inserts

promotion at the US Open, print ads, targeted newspaper campaigns and priority placement in Web sites such as www.usta.com

And tennis doesn't lack visibility on television, given the new TV coverage of the men's Super 8 series and the super stardom of attractive players who rival all-time greats in their early accomplishments and commitment to promoting the game. Maria Sharapova is on board with promoting Tennis Welcome Centers and "Tennis Gets you Fit" slogan ads, which tie in to Cardio Tennis that is now in 1,100+ sites with 92 percent retention.

Rick Devereux
yoga and tennis coach
former Director of Operations and Marketing for IHRSA

Good Coaching

In January 2006, Virginia High School League (VHSL) Coaching Education Program became the first state high school association coaching education program to receive accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE).

Physical Activity in the Community

With the trend toward keeping people in their homes for as long as possible, activity options in communities and neighborhoods become paramount. According to AARP research, 30 percent of older adults use exercise and activity facilities in their communities. These might include:

fitness and health clubs

personal-training gyms

senior centers

parks and recreation

senior housing facilities

Among the 50+ adults surveyed by AARP, strength training was the most popular program (31 percent), then aerobics (22 percent) and miscellaneous activities, such as walking, running, dance, cycling, yoga, basketball, golf and water activities.

A survey of 675 facilities in seven regions of the United States providing activity programs for older adults showed the programs focus on cardiovascular exercise. The facilities offered:

73 percent aerobic conditioning (most popular: aerobic exercise,

stationary equipment, chair-based activity, walking, dance)

47 percent flexibility

31 percent multicomponent programs (for example, aerobics and free weights)

26 percent strength training

22 percent recreational

A key difference between the two studies is that the older adults called strength training a favored activity and the facility survey cited strength training as a less-attended program.

By knowing what your market wants and needs you will be able to attract them. For example, it should come as no surprise that older adult seek to increase their strength. According to Dr. William Evans, the inability to lift 10 pounds is the single biggest deficit in older people.

What does this mean?

If the fastest growing segment in the industry and society is the 50+, and their desire is to increase strength, it would only make sense to address the need. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, strength training is the fastest growing activity, increasing 35.4 percent to 35.5 million participants. But imagine what it could be if you had equipment that starts at low resistances and increases in one-pound increments.

With the growth of the population, the need for community-based exercise and activity options is great. Based on a comparison with U.S. 2000 Census data, the number of community physical-activity programs will need to increase by 78 percent to provide sufficient opportunities for older adults.

Why don't more community facilities offer physical activity?

The 326 facilities that did not offer physical-activity programs cited perceived lack of interest among older adults (50 percent), lack of funding (46 percent), lack of staff interest (44 percent), lack of staff knowledge regarding frail adults (34 percent), staff shortage (34 percent), lack of staff training regarding older adults (24 percent) and concerns about liability (23 percent).

As community facilities change to accommodate the next generation of older adults, they need to develop programs that are contemporary and interesting. People would attend community programs, according to the AARP survey, if the programs were age-targeted but not concentrated on specific diseases, offered more variety in class types, were conveniently located and cost less.

The bottom line: Today there is an immense opportunity to grow your business and the health of older people in your community. By taking the time to lean more about how to program your facility you will meet their needs.

Colin Milner
CEO of the International Council on Active Aging

Getting Personal

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of personal trainers is expected to grow by 46 percent in the next half-dozen years, listing personal training as one of the top 15 most desirable careers due to its expected growth in demand.

Working with Mother Nature

More and more directors and managers are returning land to its natural state to fix problems, save money and increase usability.

When you replace the existing eroded shoreline or dying lawn with wildflowers the benefits are stabile soils with their deep roots, fewer geese, cleaner water and more colorful wildlife.

This also works in the woods when you remove the invasive species and restore the wildflowers-the woods become alive with butterflies and songbirds. Imagine a walk on one of your paths where you have a new view at every turn. Think of the long-term cost-savings in fuel and maintenance when you turn that unused lawn into a thriving natural area full of programmable space.

Jack Pizzo, RLA, ASLA, ICN
Vice President and Senior Ecologist with Pizzo & Associates, Ltd.

Access to the Great American Backcountry

Access…open roads lead to open trails that lead to the great outdoors. Exploration, recreation, education-with pending legislation on the national scene in Congress, those of us in the "industry" as leaders and educators are facing a crisis in access to these great backcountry lands.

We are told by leading representatives of our national government that they want the American people to "get outdoors" and to explore our great national parks. Go camping using our national lands as governed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), the USDA Forest Service and the National Park Service. Go take a hike and get fit America!

Unfortunately, for most Americans this directive coming down from the highest political office in our country has fallen on what appears to be the deaf ears of those who are setting policy in the above-mentioned governmental agencies. Many educational and nonprofit programs run by groups as diverse as colleges and universities, military outdoor recreation, municipal agencies, and community youth organizations are finding the "door" to the outdoors literally closed. Most educational and nonprofit groups do not have the resources to compete for permits that are issued to commercial guides (many who are required to pay extraordinary fees). The sad result is that those with commercial licenses often have what amounts to a monopoly on permits to American forests, lands and waters.

We believe that educational and nonprofit groups should have equal access and an equitable system for issuing permits that recognizes this group (and its mission) as distinct from commercial enterprises. Both categories of users make a valuable contribution to leading people safely in the backcountry. For AORE members and like-minded groups, we take this one step further and equip individuals with the skills and training to recreate responsibly and the ability to teach others to do the same. Our experienced trip leaders are trained in risk management, leave-no-trace ethics and wilderness first aid. Educational training such as this enables us to take inexperienced students out and give them a safe and positive experience in the outdoors.

How can we do this if we are denied access to the very outdoor classrooms in which we need to teach? Consider the potential long-term impact. Reduced access equates to reduced usage, reduced program opportunities for our communities and the population across America. Resulting in, I fear, an increase in outdoor injuries and deaths. We will see continued destruction of the natural environment due to lack of understanding of the ethics necessary to share the backcountry without damaging the landscape. We will see the entire outdoor industry impacted: from sales of outdoor gear, equipment and clothing to increased cost in management of parks and national lands.

What can we do? Fight for improved and equitable access. Grassroots letter-writing to each of our members of Congress is step one. Inform them of the conflicting access policy where educational and nonprofit programs are being shut out from access to the backcountry and are being placed unnecessarily in the same category as commercial guides. Let them know that although our own president has directed Americans to get outdoors, that various land management policies are keeping us from recreating on public land.

Russell Crispell
Past President of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education

Weight, Weight, Don't Tell Me

Weightlifting was the fastest growing of the 41 sports and activities surveyed by the National Sporting Goods Association in 2005. With 35.5 million participants, weightlifting participation increased a hulking 35.4 percent, a change usually reserved for the lesser-participated sports and activities, which tend to have larger percentage changes, both increases and decreases.

New Methods of Measuring Levels of Service

It is typical for agencies to use Level of Service (LOS) measurements as a tool for strategic and master planning. In the parks and recreation field, these measurements traditionally have been capacity-oriented and based on population. For example, X tennis courts, ball fields or acres of parkland for every 1,000 persons. This system works O.K. for standardized things like tennis courts but is problematic for things that vary greatly in size, capacity or quality. For example, what constitutes "one" playground? Even for the standardized things, quality can vary tremendously from one location to another. The traditional approaches to measuring LOS have not addressed these questions.

A new approach has been developed by a group of consultants from Colorado and is now being used by agencies across the country. Based on the use of computer mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) technology, it allows for richer and more meaningful LOS analyses to be performed for parks and recreation as well as for other types of infrastructure. The methodology integrates capacity, quality and accessibility into a unified measurement that can be used to generate a wide variety of analytical perspectives that provide a true picture of the LOS for any given location within a park and recreation system. It also can be used to measure changes in LOS that will result from proposed additions, deletions or other changes to the system.

Called GRASP by its originators, the approach is applicable to a wide variety of needs and issues, from outdoor active recreation to passive areas and indoor facilities. GRASP also can be used to analyze LOS for programs as well as physical features.

Rob Layton, ASLA
Principal of Design Concepts CLA, Inc
Teresa Penbrooke
CEO and founder of GreenPlay LLC

Continuing the Dream of Playgrounds for Children of All Abilities

Looking for ways to include all children, children with and without disabilities, in public playgrounds has been the mission of the National Center for Boundless Playgrounds for almost 10 years. This summer a milestone was reached: the opening of the 100th Boundless Playground-places in communities where all children can play together, building their understanding about themselves and others. What does the future hold? This is a very good question for consideration in a society where diversity is celebrated. Playgrounds can achieve universal design and be places where everyone young and old alike can be welcome to play. Boundless Playgrounds will continue to look forward to the day when, in every community, every child has a place to play.

Today, more and more parks and recreation professionals, playground supervisors, after-school and camp counselors, athletic directors, municipal officials, and community leaders can help raise awareness about the need for barrier-free playgrounds-where social and architectural barriers don't exist and every child can be in the middle of the fun.

The National Center for Boundless Playgrounds

Play Value

There are several areas and issues coming to the forefront of the playground industry. One of the most important is the recognition of the true "value" of play. Giving children the opportunity to engage in free play, as they do on playgrounds, brings a host of benefits. Children gain physical strength and endurance, they build fine and gross motor skills, they hone their strategic and planning skills, and gain valuable social skills that they will use for a lifetime. In addition, the playground is a place where children can give their imagination a workout. They can invent new games, make up their own rules, and build a fantasy world of their own creation.

An additional area that is becoming more visible is recess. Many schools are doing away with recess to make time for more academic activities. There is a movement to repeal the eradication of recess, as there are many proven benefits to having it as part of the school day. Children need an opportunity to blow off steam during the school day, in order to be fully attentive in the classroom. They gain all the benefits of play, listed above. And, in this age of alarming statistics regarding childhood obesity, recess keeps children active and more fit. As an offshoot of the anti-recess initiatives, many organizations, including the President's Council on Physical Fitness and IPEMA are focusing their research on children's fitness. We're very much looking forward to seeing their results.

Another area of tremendous growth is the trend toward natural play environments. These locations incorporate the natural world into the playground, in the form of nature-themed play elements, plant materials, gardens and other integrated designs. Adding natural elements to playgrounds makes the area more inviting to children and families, engages children and adults on a multitude of levels, and encourages them to spend more time enjoying the activities and the scenery.

On the horizon, there are a number of high-profile topics. These include a growing groundswell of support for the value of play. We expect to see the topic entering the political arena, sometime in the near future.

Lynn Pinoniemi
Landscape Structures Inc.

Qualified Playground Contractors

In today's playground industry, more and more playground bid specifications call out for supply and installation of equipment from a single vendor. Often, cities and school districts separate the bid specification to call for a playground sales firm to sell the equipment and then independent playground contractors to bid installation of the equipment.

In either case, when a bid for installation of equipment comes out, installers will expect to see the following minimum requirements:

  • Playground installer must provide proof of NPSI certification.
  • Playground installer must provide proof of General Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation.
  • Playground installer must provide proof of being licensed to operate in the state they are doing business.
  • Playground installer must be a certified installer (certified with the NPCAI Playground Construction School or certified with selected equipment manufacturer).

It is not a coincidence that the requirements to become a NPCAI Qualified Contractor are identical to any bid specification. One of the primary benefits of being a NPCAI member is the service of becoming a NPCAI Qualified Contractor. On the members' behalf, the NPCAI maintains a database of information on each Qualified Contractor. Stored in this database are all the minimum bid specification requirements you see above.

As you recall, 10 years ago just about anybody could install a playground, but in today's world we have guidelines, standards and laws with which all playground installers are required to comply.

Sylvia Salazar
Executive Director of the International Playground Contractors Association (NPCAI)

Material Improvements

Maintenance costs for recreation and amusement properties continue to escalate, with labor being the most expensive element in keeping facilities clean and functioning, not to mention attractive and comfortable.

Primary among the factors are heavy use and abuse, lack of supervision, and even vandalism. The challenge is to find, select and specify restroom accessories engineered and crafted for durability (impact- and scratch-resistance) as well as easier maintenance and graffiti-removal.

Alan Gettelman
Director of Marketing for Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc.

Cleaner, Safer Child Accommodations

"Family-friendly" establishments and venues, especially recreation and amusement properties, enjoy a greater level of customer loyalty.

Patrons visit more often and spend more time and money.

The major factors are child safety and comfort, durable construction, and sanitary maintenance, all important features of family accommodation products such as baby-changing stations, seating such as high chairs for food-service operations, and child activity centers.

These are the findings of an independent nationwide study of parents with children conducted as a public service to the architectural, construction and building-owner community including recreation and amusement establishments.

David Leigh
Director of Sales and Marketing for Koala Kare Products

Fittest School?

The Newsweek Kaplan College Guide recently featured the University of Virginia (UVA) as the hottest college for fitness. According to Mark Fletcher, associate athletics director, 94 percent of all students use one of the four indoor recreation centers, which make up 300,000 square feet of pools, running tracks, weight rooms, and spaces for yoga and kick-boxing.

The university also maintains a 23-acre park for outdoor field sports and running.

The Value of Skateparks

Skateboarding is the fastest-growing category of youth sports. In North America alone, there are nearly 15 million youth participants. In fact, skateboarding is the number-one recreation choice for 6- to 18-year-olds. There are about 3,000 skateparks of various sizes in the United States, and that number is growing every year. That number does not include the residential skatepark equipment and skateparks that populate driveways and backyards across America.

Why are skateparks important? They provide safe, unstructured recreation for preteens and teenagers. This age group is typically under-served when it comes to recreational opportunities, especially if they are not involved in team sports, such as baseball, basketball or soccer. Skateparks also enhance communities. They give youth riders a place to practice their sport, socialize and gain valuable skills. In addition, skateparks give these riders a safe place to ride, and that reduces property damage to steps, rails, ledges and other areas in the community.

Skateparks are also important in the fight against childhood obesity, as they keep kids active and get kids off the sofa and away from video games. Riding gives preteens and teenagers an opportunity to be active and stay fit, without having to be a part of a structured recreation program or team. The National Recreation and Park Association even has a recent health initiative that embraces all types of recreation for kids, including skateparks. In skateboarding, "no kid sits on the bench."

ASTM is currently developing standards for skateparks. These standards have been in process for about three years and are scheduled to be published in early 2007. There are two working groups, one for above-ground equipment and one for in-ground equipment. Some of the guidelines the working groups are addressing include ramp heights, guardrails, materials, standard of care regarding installation and maintenance, and riding surface variance tolerances.

There are many types of skateparks. However, several strong trends have emerged in terms of skatepark categories. There are three basic types of skateparks, based on the materials used to construct them: in-ground, above-ground and hybrid.

Among other trends in the skatepark industry has been the emergence of different types of skateparks, based on size and difficulty. Skateparks currently are delineated into the following categories:

skate spots
community skateparks
regional skateparks

Skate spots are designed to be neighborhood skateparks. They may be located in an existing park and are created to be a place where beginners can hone their skills. These also are known as "feeder" skateparks because as riders increase their skill level, they will be ready to take on a community skatepark.

A community skatepark offers more opportunities for more riders. These skateparks typically feature obstacles that are appropriate for more than one skill level. There are often areas for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders. Other types of riders, including inline skaters and BMX riders, may frequent the community skatepark. These skateparks usually offer some amenities, including restrooms and water.

The regional skatepark is designed for more advanced riders. The obstacles are typically the most challenging, and there are fewer opportunities for younger or less-skilled riders. These are usually the largest skateparks, and attract skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX riders. There are most often amenities at the regional skatepark, including restrooms and water. Often, especially if the skatepark is indoors, there will be food and retail outlets for gear.

The skatepark industry just continues to grow. We will continue to document the trends and see how the industry responds to the wide variety of demands from riders, communities and recreation professionals.

Lynn Pinoniemi
Landscape Structures Inc.

Turf Management

Playing surfaces for sports fields continue to advance for the recreation user because of the management practices of the sports turf manager. Sports turf managers are employing new turfgrasses that are disease-, drought- and wear-tolerant. They are using new technology such as hand-held, mobile and in-place sensors to assess a field and optics technology to detect turf stress. Other innovative products and equipment help to save time, money, protect the environment, and produce safe and high-quality playing fields.

Capital improvement projects receive funding, while operating budgets continue to decrease. He observes that parks departments are outsourcing and using contract maintenance as a way to reduce operating costs and meet budgets. Three trends in parks and recreation include: an increase in the popularity of walking, which is driving the development of paths and trails; building of athletic complexes with multiuse fields; and the installation of synthetic turf as one solution to relentless field use.

Baby Boomers coming of age (one-third of our population) and their desire to stay healthy, active and never be defined or limited by their aging are impacting sports. For example, there is a growing demand for adult soccer. Lacrosse is becoming a mainstream sport, and consequently sports turf managers are developing new technologies to manage these heavily used fields.

With huge competition for leisure time, some sports will need to adjust to accommodate the time crunch. The shortage of labor during the next 10 years as calculated by the U.S. Census could have an impact on the availability of parks staff and crew members who assist the sports turf manager. The decrease in families with children by 2025 (Urban Land Institute) could have a corresponding impact on kids' sports participation numbers.

Litigation may move to the forefront, as the sports turf manager and the employer are held legally responsible for injuries to players on the field. We may see the sports turf manager responsible for protecting fans and players from insects that cause disease. Water, its quality, shortages and use are being regulated. This continued tightening will impact sports fields, as will the increasing environmental restrictions. Sports turf managers are using IPM (integrated pest management) as one tool to help protect the environment. The cost of land and the desire of communities to maintain open spaces could impact the building of new sports facilities. All trends indicate an even stronger need in the future to have a highly skilled sports turf manager manage the playing fields.

Kim Heck
CEO of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA)
Mike Trigg, CSFM
President of STMA and Superintendent of Parks for Waukegan Park District in Waukegan, Ill.

Synthetic Surfaces

The recreation industry is at the tip of the iceberg for use of synthetic surfaces for various applications within the market. Synthetic turf as a viable option for surfacing of scholastic and university sports fields, community recreation areas, playgrounds, military recreation areas, and sports stadiums is on the steady rise.

Over the past five years the evolution of quality synthetic turf and burgeoning "success examples" have sped the growth of synthetic turf in the parks and recreation arena. More and more recreation managers and facilities executives are requesting synthetic turf be specified into new projects and refurbishment/redesigns as well. Pointing to the continuing growth of synthetic turf is the fact that in 2006 there are 600 projected synthetic turf field installations. There are 15,000 synthetic turf field installations projected over the next decade.

Proliferation in the athletic sports fields market is having a crossover impact in the smaller scale recreation arena, as awareness and demand for synthetic turf for lawn and play areas also grow.

William Campbell
President for Synthetic Turf International
Adriana Vizcaya
Vice President of Sales

Indoor Sports/Multipurpose Flooring

Facility managers, school administrators, athletic directors, purchasing supervisors and other decision-makers now show a distinct increased interest in the "environmental" qualities of the sports or multipurpose flooring they are considering for installation. Some of the questions they are asking used to only come from maintenance personnel. With intensified interest in containing energy costs, these professionals are looking at ways to save money or least stay within their budgets without sacrificing flooring quality or safety.

Many of these directors and managers are environmentally aware, and while they want to install flooring manufactured from recycled materials, their immediate concern is everyday energy savings. Most often, the gym or multipurpose room where they want to install the flooring will be in constant use around the clock every day of the week. But what if it is not? They want to avoid the cost of running air conditioning or humidity-control systems to keep flooring in good shape even when these large spaces sit empty. So, they are asking questions about possible floor expansion, contraction and warping. Under pressure from their budget directors, they want to know what their options are for decreasing air-cooling systems usage now and in the future.

Additionally, these professionals are requesting high-performance flooring to handle a maximum of activities with a minimum of maintenance. They want durable, attractive flooring, easy to maintain and quickly cleaned with a short supply list. While all flooring with heavy usage requires basic daily cleaning, the requirements differ significantly for biweekly, quarterly or annual cleaning.

Sports and multipurpose flooring manufacturers are responding to these concerns about energy usage and introducing flooring that is unaffected by rising temperatures and humidity and easy to clean without compromising their commitment to high-quality surfaces. Their research and development departments will continue to focus on including more sustainable characteristics in simpler-to-maintain, durable floors to satisfy their customers without losing sight of the needs of the end-users.


161 Million
Number of Americans, age 16 and older, who participated in at least one of 22 active outdoor activities during 2005, according to the Outdoor Industry Foundation.

Brand Justice

Our new century human economy demands an immersive experience when attending any sporting event. From concessions, club seats, sideline activities right down to the rest rooms, we have become so visually sophisticated that the "action" off the field is playing a bigger role in creating the successful "Guest Experience." For a stadium or arena experience to be complete, the team brand and the facility brand have to live in harmony.

The Green Bay Packers "live" within Lambeau Field. The Miami Dolphins "live" within Dolphin Stadium and the Boston Bruins "live" within the TD Banknorth Garden. Each franchise as unique as their stadium.

The point is "life." You must infuse it in every corner of your facility right down to the soap in the soap dish. I call it "Visual Passion," and it works to connect all of the dots of an emotional guest experience. If you can create an individual emotional experience for your guests at any level, you will have them for life.

To be successful in any kind of entertainment facility you must create emotional visual magic for your guests to live within. They develop a kinship to you, and you reward them with an experience of a lifetime. It works.

Mark Schmitz
Principal and Creative Director of ZD Studios

Positive Growth

The past 25 years have been good for youth sports, as an increase in training and education for the coaches, parents, administrators and officials in youth sports has made youth sports safer and more positive overall for everyone involved. This year, the National Alliance For Youth Sports (NAYS) is celebrating its 25th Anniversary of being one of America's leading advocates for positive, safe youth sports, and we've done it through our innovative, comprehensive training and youth development programs. But there's much more to be done.

As the startling statistic that 70 percent of kids drop out of organized sports by age 13 "because it stops being fun" shows, park and recreation professionals need to be more proactive when it comes to making sure their youth sports programs emphasize fun and teamwork in an environment free of excessive competition. This can be accomplished by recommending and mandating training and education for coaches, parents, administrators and officials. NAYS offers comprehensive training and membership programs for everyone involved in youth sports, including: the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA), Parents Association for Youth Sports (PAYS), National Youth Sports Administrators Association (NYSAA), Academy for Youth Sports Administrators and National Youth Sports Officials Association.

National Alliance For Youth Sports

Construction Report

Hotels with indoor waterparks will grow to a forecast of 144 by year-end 2006, up 33 percent from 108 in 2005. Meanwhile, ordinary hotels add less than 1.0 percent growth to the overall hotel industry room supply. Seventy-three new hotel waterpark additions and expansion projects are under construction or will break ground during 2006. A total of 36 hotel indoor waterparks with 6,004 rooms and 1,095,440 square feet of waterpark are expected to open before year-end 2006. Another 37 are under construction and scheduled to open in 2007. What's behind the phenomenal growth?

Leisure travel patterns favor the drive-to regional resort or the urban hotel with a major indoor waterpark. Indoor waterparks and other recreation-entertainment concepts are a part of almost every new hotel and resort development today.

While indoor waterparks can be expensive to build, the positive impact on hotel revenues and profits is even more impressive. Hotels with indoor waterparks achieve higher occupancy, higher revenue per room (revpar) and higher net operating income than comparable hotels without indoor waterparks.

Several new projects have opened with the new technology domed structures and enclosures that let in the light and keep out the weather-extending peak season to year-round. And while most hotel waterpark resorts focus on families with young children, a few new projects include surf-quality wave parks and whitewater river courses to add a little more adventure.

The growth continues to accelerate: The number of hotel rooms attached to indoor waterparks is expected to grow from 5,400 in 2000 to a forecast of more than 36,000 in 2007, which is nearly a 7x increase over seven years.

Hotel Waterpark Resort Research & Consulting
a collaboration of Jeff Coy of JLC Hospitality Consulting
and Bill Haralson of William L. Haralson & Associates

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