Insights from Athletics, Fitness and Recreation Experts

Predictions1119 Feat

As this issue of Athletic Business drops in mailboxes on the eve of AB Show 2019 in Orlando, we thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the insights gleaned from a year's worth of magazine features, as well as reach out to a few knowledgeable AB Show speakers for their predictions on what to expect in 2020.

On personalization of cloud-connected cardio equipment
"I tell our customers, my definition of success is when there are four gyms on the same block that have my gear in them, but they all look different. They have different services on them and they're all reflecting that club's message."
Jeff Bartee, product manager, Precor
The Easy Pitch: Next-Gen Cloud-Connected Cardio Equipment

On universal changing rooms
"Universal changing rooms should be provided in every modern facility. These spaces are inclusive solutions that meet the needs of a variety of users."
Jennifer Jursnick, senior associate and design manger Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture
Providing Locker and Changing Rooms that Meet Everyone's Needs

On robotic field line painting
"If you're doing 24 soccer fields for a tournament, we can cut that time in half. We can do a soccer field in 20 minutes. We can control the speed of the robot depending on your grass cut and what your quality expectations are."
Jason Aldridge, president, Turf Tank
A Satellite View of Turf Care

On specialized aquatics facilities
"I think specializing helps to generate more revenue because those facilities tend, out of necessity, to operate at a high efficiency. It provides a concise direction for the facility so they're really able to focus on what their business plan is going to be."
Miklos Valdez, studio director, Counsilman-Hunsaker
Turn a Profit with Innovative Pool Programming

On indoor turf areas
"The fastest growing segment of our business is what we call speed and agility training turf. Gone are the days of three sets of bench and squats. Athletes still want to do that type of work, but then come to the center of their space and push a sled or flip a tire or do plyometric work."
Matt Riggs, business director, Sporturf
Turf Gaining Ground Within Indoor Training Areas

On gym floor refinishing
"Twenty years ago, it was 2-inch lines and a letter in the center and that was it. Now, you look at what's going on on floors, and there are high schools that look like professional courts."
Bill Price, national sports director, Bona US
What to Consider Before Your Next Gym Floor Refinishing Project

On concussion management in campus rec
"Concussions are a new threat, because key players in the insurance market who are worried about potential future class-action lawsuits are examining how they issue negligence liability insurance policies that cover concussions to colleges and universities."
Ian McGregor, president, Ian McGregor & Associates
Concussion Management Top of Mind for Campus Rec

On fabric structures
"In a fabric building, all you have to do is put a white cover over it. The cover filters the harmful UV for you, but you still get the sunlight, which eliminates dark corners and spaces. And when you combine that with ventilation, that gets you what we understand to be a much healthier environment for any sort of activity."
Geoff Ching, director of sales, ClearSpan Fabric Structures
Three Advantages to Specifying Fabric Structures for Sports Applications

On jobs in campus rec
"The co-curricular experience is closely linked to academic success. To achieve success in classrooms, students have to belong and feel a sense of community. I think that what's starting to happen is a shift in what professional development looks like for campus recreation professionals. It's about the realization that the work we do is impacting different areas of campus, and our work is starting to be elevated more."
Leah Hall Dorothy, president, NIRSA
Jobs in Campus Rec Prepare Students for Diverse Careers

On virtual reality in the rec center of the future
"Now, for those of you who have a traditionally designed and constructed recreation center, imagine you and your friends donning your visor, haptic suit and gloves for a game of five-on-five basketball in existing gyms. In this case you are actually running up and down the court, shooting baskets, guarding your opponents, shooting free throws, but this time your avatar is Magic Johnson and it is the 1984 NBA Finals."
Erik Kocher, principal, Hastings+Chivetta
The Rec Center of the Future: Both Familiar and Fantastic

On ninja gyms
"We've just had tremendous success getting kids involved and seeing fitness facilities, gyms and YMCAs build enrollment through ninja activities. It's been a lot of fun."
Steve Cook, director of sales, American Athletic Inc.
Ninja Training on the Climb in Mainstream Facilities

On gamified fitness areas for kids
"The feedback we would get before was always, 'There's nothing for my kids to do. There's no place to take them. What's the benefit of having a family membership?' Now it's, 'This is the reason I can come here, because I have a space to drop my kids off where I know they're having fun while I'm working out.' "
Angela Caringella, assistant director of youth programs, FitRec
Gamified Fitness Benefits Members, Facilities

On college esports
"I sometimes wish it wasn't called 'esports' because then everybody tried to compare it to sports, and it's not. You don't have to be 6 feet tall and 290 pounds to be involved in esports. This is going to be way bigger than we can all imagine because it's accessible to all students."
Zack Johnson, CEO, ggCircuit
Is Your Campus Equipped for the Esports Invasion?



Wellbeing — the all-encompassing view of human health and function — is revolutionizing architecture and design. In the sports design world, healthcare and athletics are sharing — and defining — space in new ways that produce tangible results. These sophisticated sports science environments are revolutionizing the way athletes train, recover and perform. Elite athletes and weekend warriors alike are benefitting from highly personalized training regimens that focus holistically on nutrition, training, recovery and technique. The tenets of biophilic design and emerging technologies are being embraced as the architectural complements to wellbeing. Tailored environments such as recovery pools, altitude chambers, sleep pods and VR/AR labs will continue to provide more performance-enhancing tools. The care and prevention of injuries are cresting new horizons, as well. Tomorrow's active care environments will be scientific laboratories, where the health progression of human body and mind will be rigorously monitored as the stresses of recovery are tackled in precise, carefully orchestrated ways.
Andy Barnard, managing director, Perkins and Will
AB Show Session: Facilities + Amenities to Serve Esports Athletes


Uncertain and divisive political undertones combined with worldwide, national, regional, state and local political agendas and an unprecedented run of financial prosperity will likely result in unpredictable fiscal decisions in 2020. Full coffers, passed bonds and approved measures that promise new projects will result in many being green-lit and fast-tracked. Minds shrouded with doubt and unrealistic project budgets due to rapid inflation and a general lack of skilled and available labor will result in many other non-essential projects being downsized or shelved until after the elections. Projects that do move forward will continue to incorporate more automation and technology. Green initiatives such as a focus on conservation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing water use will be at the forefront of each project. The need to differentiate from local and/or regional competition will continue to drive innovation in fun, exciting and thrilling options. Safety and inclusion will continue to be at the forefront of design and implementation. 
Justin Caron, principal, Aquatic Design Group
AB Show Session: To Automate or Not to Automate?


2020 will be an interesting year for campus recreation, health and wellbeing. I believe we will see more campuses expanding — or starting — their esports programs as a way to capture non-traditional users in the recreation space. We will also see an increase in the use of technology in group fitness classes, particularly metrics-tracking and digital instruction. Companies such as Peloton are evolving the audience for drop-in use, and campuses should take advantage of this new technology to attract new users who want a customized, personal experience in a community-focused atmosphere. Finally, I think we will see more class times and building spaces devoted to mindfulness, meditation and relaxation practices. From guided meditation to power naps to sound-and-light therapy spaces, expect to see more campus recreation centers inviting these calming programs and services into their portfolio.
Caroline Dotts, associate director, Healthy Lifestyle Program
AB Show Session: The Language of Wellbeing: Creating Positive Team Environments Via Clifton StrengthsFinder


As interest grows in larger regional sports complexes and aquatic centers, pressure will mount to find better and more efficient ways to use the available land around facilities to meet community needs. Efficient landscape designs will include an array of functional fitness spaces, including hybrid running tracks and turf training areas, as well as flexible, multi-character community gathering spots. Landscape designs will also need to accommodate passive spaces for wellness and meditation, as well as athletic training. Technology will be integrated into the outdoor spaces to enable new connections as wearable tech grows more popular. Lines will blur between exterior and interior spaces as facilities look for ways to maximize space for different community activities. At the same time, more communities will be looking to use available funds to develop smaller, in-fill projects targeting the interests of specific neighborhoods. Landscape designers will be called upon to develop unique projects on odd-sized plots for trails, pocket parks and quiet zones. Designers will need to focus more on water conservation, increasing tree canopy to reduce heat island effect and improve air quality, while minimizing maintenance and native landscape to get the most bang for the buck.
John Courtney, senior project manager in landscape architecture, LPA Design Studios
AB Show Session: Building or Renovating Athletic Fields: Selecting, Procuring and Building the Right System


The field of aquatic fitness is ever-growing and evolving. What was once an environment that specialized in allowing elderly individuals to move and exercise more freely now hosts a diverse population of individuals. Though I believe that many of the current trends in aquatic fitness, such as high-intensity interval and mobility-focused classes, will continue to be what many look for in aquatic classes, there are new needs that must be met. As recovery techniques take center stage in the world of athletics, I believe that this will be one trend that we see grow in the coming year. Offering recovery sessions that promote range of motion and relaxation, while the hydrostatic properties of the water assist in reestablishing physiological homeostasis, could be a welcomed trend that will draw athletes to the pool. On another front, we can look toward the drastic changes in insurance coverage to see that aquatic fitness classes often play the role of extended therapy. The aquatic environment has such positive effects on a variety of diagnoses that including specialized aquatic exercise classes or small group training following rehab can provide a host of benefits to the client while opening the door for new income.
Lori Sherlock, aquatics therapy coordinator, University of West Virginia
AB Show Session: Innovative Lifeguard Fitness


This article originally appeared in the November | December 2019 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Looking Back, Moving Forward." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


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