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I can't think of a recent issue of Athletic Business that captures the feel of our industry quite as comprehensively as this one. No, we don't have any momentous, industry-changing topics this month, but what we do have speaks to the current environment of athletic, fitness and recreation professionals.

Senior editor Paul Steinbach looks at the latest must-have for fitness facilities: functional strength equipment. Once limited to the niche of CrossFit boxes and a distinct base of passionate members, functional strength equipment is now finding its place in more traditional gyms and health clubs and among a more diverse user group.

We also have a feature inspired by the world's most popular sport, and one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States: soccer. Driven by increased demand for more practice space as well as the potential to draw tournaments and tourist dollars, communities are investing big in multi-field complexes decked out with amenities.

Soccer is booming among youths, but baby boomers are looking for something a little more low-key: pickleball. Only a few years ago, pickleballers sparred with tennis players for court space, or struggled to get gym time within already packed program schedules. Now, more communities are seeing pickleball as the answer to underused outdoor courts, or seeing the value in new court construction.

Rounding out our content is a profile of the Mary Free Bed YMCA in Michigan, the first in the world to achieve universal design certification from the Global Universal Design Commission. Much like the establishment of LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification in response to the demand for more sustainable buildings, the GUDC strives to establish a unified set of standards to meet the growing demand for more-inclusive facilities — driven, in large part, by the needs of an aging but still active population.

I hope this issue inspires you to pause for a moment and take note of what your own facilities and programs look like.

Let's see how it compares in five years.

Subscribe to Athletic Business today!

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Letter from the Editor"


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