Blog: Tagged 'Trends'
Energy. Excitement. Movement. Laughter. Learning. Children. These are not the terms that come to mind when one envisions a traditional senior recreation center.Continue
If you ask Baby Boomers to describe their ideal recreation facility, those are exactly the qualities they are seeking. They are no longer content to sit still in a room and play cards; they want to move, learn, socialize, and interact with the community. They want to stay active. Once you get the clients in the door, the programs offered need to satisfy a holistic mind, body, and soul approach to wellness.
Access to equipment that maintains fitness and mobility has become an essential need for recreational facilities trying to attract Boomers. Operators should provide equipment that focuses on maintaining strength, balance, and reducing the risks of injury. In addition to the open fitness room, consider providing a smaller personal fitness room that can accommodate 2-3 people.
The passion for competitive sports still exists in Boomers. At their stage in life, full size courts are no longer desirable. Offer smaller, half-sized courts that are more forgiving on knee and hip joints and keep the gymnasium space as flexible as possible to accommodate a variety of activities. Have basketball hoops, soccer goals, and volleyball systems, and golf/batting practice nets that lower from the ceiling for flexibility and easy setup.
Warm water swimming facilities are also in high demand due to the ability to minimize impact on joints while exercising. Water Aerobics, Aqua Zumba, and the Arthritis Foundation fitness classes have become extremely popular. Provide additional fitness challenges by adding water currents for users to challenge themselves by walking with and against the current.
Albert Einstein inspired us to never give up the quest for knowledge when he said “once you stop learning, you start dying”. The active adult center needs to provide spaces that meet the needs of teaching classes, mentoring, meetings, and collaboration. Special considerations for rooms that host this type of activity are induction hearing systems, Blue Tooth enabled televisions/media systems, and sound absorbing acoustical treatments to prevent echo/reverberation.
Classrooms & Technology
Offer classes that range in topics from health, technology nutrition, social security, finances, and insurance. Consider hosting lectures from the nation’s top academics and professionals, such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, through online resources that provide free lectures. Technology education needs can also generate an opportunity to interact with younger generations. Try a “Teach me and I’ll teach you” mentoring program. Have a member of a younger generation teach the Boomer how to use technology and in return the youth member can receive career mentoring.
Virtual Senior Centers
Don’t limit your class size to participants inside the room, consider hosting classes and discussions online. You will be able to reach those unable to attend due to lack of transportation, child care, mobility or health risks. Virtual senior centers allow for homebound seniors to interact and engage with peers. Or create one on one Zoom meetings for a conversation or counseling.
Strengthening the soul through social interaction is important. Multifunctional social spaces are necessary to promote formal and informal social interaction. Supply rooms with tables that can function for impromptu card games, meeting, or meals. Weekly lunches continue to be popular with the aging population.
Don’t forget about the potential for outdoor programs. Shared gardens with horticultural classes can offer unique experiences for active adult centers. Host classes on a variety of topics from composting, to harvesting, to organic fertilizers. If the facility serves weekly meals, prepare them with food from the garden. Not only will this help offset the cost of food for the meals, it will conjure feelings of pride and accomplishment to the ones who tended the garden.
Recent polls have revealed that one in ten children live with a grandparent and four in ten are primarily raised by a grandparent. Boomers need assistance with childcare to be able to use facilities. Offering a childcare area for participants to use while members participate in programs is a key attraction. Major retailers like IKEA and Giant Eagle (grocer) have addressed child care needs by providing child care service while customers are shopping.
Figuring out how to provide a range of services that satisfy the needs of the boomer can be a bit daunting. There are several issues operators must address to offer successful active adult programs. One of the largest considerations is the facility itself. Take a look at the community’s needs and determine if there is benefit in integrating the two standalone centers into one.
At the end of the day we need to applaud the baby boomers' efforts for paving the way for generations to follow. They have tirelessly asked community leaders to evolve senior centers. I encourage facility operators, recreation programmers, and designers, to look to boomers for ideas in how to teach and inspire younger generations to be active, strong and defy ideas of conventional aging.Hide Full Post
Posted on October 1, 2015 at 12:54pm
Growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, a locker room was a cavernous, uncomfortable, smelly public space whose functional design focused less on personal space and more on efficiently serving a large number of people. The average locker room experience was the same for my Dad, and oddly enough, locker rooms did not evolve or improve from his boyhood to mine. In those days, the typical recreation center locker rooms were modeled after High School athletic locker rooms serving the masses for personal hygiene and dressing after a vigorous sport or workout. This “old school” locker room model was accepted as status quo and adapted into recreation centers for decades.Continue
Old school locker rooms may be our heritage, but recreation facility operators know the critical role modern locker rooms play in increasing participation, streamlining operations and enhancing customer experience. This once common place and often forgotten space in the building is now part of progressive business plans driving the design of modern recreation facilities and providing revenue potential. Service-minded professionals recognize the importance of the locker room to the customer, and as a result, ever-evolving and paradigm shifting locker room design is now at the forefront of recreation center planning.
Much discussion about what should be included in a new community recreation center revolves around activity spaces; i.e. how many gyms, how many lanes in the lap pool and how many meeting rooms. The size and quality of these spaces is conceived in great detail. Rarely, however, does the discussion explore the spaces required to support these activities, in particular the variety and quality of the locker rooms. If we take a step back and look at the building program, we should ask “what are the barriers to participation?” After all, civic decision-makers typically seek solutions that can benefit as many citizens as possible. It is one thing to build a terrific activity space, but it’s another to maximize participation in activities and optimize its usefulness. The answers predictably involve location, programming, and fees. Often underestimated is the power of a well-considered locker room experience.
Locker rooms are personal. Very personal. It is your customer’s personal space, and it’s important to your success that your customer feels good about this personal of a space. Happy customers mean a happy bottom line which leads to happy bosses and elected officials. What could possibly go wrong with this logic? Plenty! Often marginalized during the design process, modern locker rooms take thought and commitment throughout the entire design process. Delivering maximum recreation space is often the highest priority and when budgets are challenged, the temptation is to save money by reducing locker room quality. Resist this temptation!
Modern locker rooms accommodate a wide variety of users, are easy to clean, are durable, have ease of maintenance, and of course, are safe. A good architect seeks to understand best practices in these areas while continually looking for innovative improvements. Let’s focus on something really cool, like the next generation of locker room concepts which have recently been built and are currently being tested in Provo, Utah; Olathe, Kansas; and Grapevine, Texas. These examples are living laboratories, testing both incremental refinements and new paradigms. These modern recreation centers explore the concept of personal space with “cabanas.” Cabanas are a series of full-service personal bathrooms adjoining an open community space of individual lockers in a variety of sizes. The key to the cabana concept is their ability to accommodate the widest variety of patrons.
Cabanas are places to coral your three kids while managing beach bags full of towels, dry clothes, shoes, diapers, etc. Cabanas provide patrons with disabilities a convenient and private space with access to all locker room amenities. Cabanas provide an added level of privacy and convenience to patrons recovering from injuries or surgeries, or even accommodate patrons with gender orientation concerns. Active aging members love cabanas because a helper, or aid, can assist them through their personal needs with dignity, even if that assistant is of the opposite sex. A fully-appointed cabana has a shower, toilet, lavatory, baby changing station, dressing bench, hair/hand dryer and enough space for a family to change clothes in privacy. A decade of locker room evolution has dictated that in order for a facility’s locker room to be deemed successful, cabanas must be included.
Let’s examine the locker room’s importance beyond just support space. The modern locker room becomes the heart of the building for the patron. That is why the design and the selection of the materials is so important to the success of the locker room. For example, a well-made locker has materials that do not rust and is clean, inviting, safe, and accessible. The well-made locker is available in many sizes to accommodate a variety of needs.
This same design approach applies to all surfaces of the modern locker room which have to be easy to clean, safe, slip-resistant, and inviting, with ease of access. Beyond all this, patrons will tell you the locker room can make or break their experience in your facility. This statement is the certainty that we must evolve the locker room’s form and function towards the wants and needs of the customer.
We must challenge the locker room concept of the past. The first family changing room was in the East Boulder Recreation Center, which opened in 1992. Today, family rooms are required by building code all over the United States and the modern world. The first family changing room was the answer to a challenge that we could do better. The modern day recreation center cabana takes the family room to the next level and even accommodates multiple generations. When the cost is weighed against the return of satisfied users over time, the return on the investment is obvious.
The cabana concept has been around for two decades or so, making it no longer innovative. What is innovative is how the cabana is synergistic with the concept of a community locker space within a facility. Many facilities currently contain cabanas in conjunction with separate gender-specific locker rooms. Consider the idea that there is no longer a need for cavernous gender-separate, old-school locker rooms when a combination of cabanas and gender-specific restrooms can provide the privacy and function of the old school locker room. Imagine an array of locker selections – from over-sized to accommodate the gear of an entire family to smaller-sized for the single person doing a quick workout – in close proximity to cabanas in a community space that is open and inviting, with natural light and clean air at just the right temperature. It’s a locker room with open views to corridors above, the second floor fitness facility, or the walking track. The second floor activities are visually symbiotic with the locker room below, making the two spaces visually connected and sharing the same air and light. The benefit of a community locker space is it meets the needs of a variety of users in a smaller footprint, thus helping to maximize the facility efficiency.
As social paradigms shift toward services that are specific to the individual’s needs, is there any doubt the recreation locker room will evolve to meet those needs? The smart recreation service provider understands a quality customer experience begins and ends in their personal space. Whether a facility will be new from the ground up or an operator is considering a renovation, the locker room space should be an imperative part of the planning and design. Consider the evolution we’ve seen over the last twenty years and the new innovations the industry is applying to this long-forgotten space when you’re planning your next facility – it’s certainly not your Daddy’s locker room any longer.Hide Full Post
Posted by Mick Massey, RLA on July 31, 2015 at 05:08pm
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