How do universities today compete to attract star students to their campuses? Top-notch academics have always been essential, but now, more than ever, so is campus life. Admissions directors know one key to enhancing it is an impressive rec center. What once was a “nice to offer” is now a “must-have” because campuses cater to Gen Zs who have been coached, invested in and entertained from the womb; Gen Z’s who seek the same from their college experience.
It’s this realization that has led to many renovations on campuses nationwide that encompass dorms, libraries, student unions and, of course, rec centers. Today’s top facilities rival even the most expensive private gyms, with their multiple themed workout zones, climbing walls, Olympic pools and more. Along with offering any type of workout imaginable, these centers offer experiences. In creating a truly unique rec center fitness facility that will be as effective in recruiting as it is in engaging students, faculty and alumni, there are several considerations.
- There are so many possibilities today. Many of these go beyond static weight machines and treadmills that encourage only individual workouts. And a lot of these newer options can create community.
- Your student body and campus culture are unique to you. Tap into your campus body’s needs through observation, surveys and social listening to determine what your rec center fitness facility should include.
- Clearly define a plan and strategy. Avoid too many goals or ideas. Know the best facilities start with visions you can articulate clearly to others.
- Make sure your equipment fits your purpose and brand. Try bespoke equipment in your brand colors, plus flooring and wall graphics to create excitement that’s worthy of starring in the social posts your members are sharing.
- Cater solutions around your member type and ability. Campus rec centers service college athletes, beginners and everyone in between. Design and equipment solutions – like functional frames – that can ramp-up or down easily can give you the most bang for your buck.
- Grow a skilled, expert and continually trained team. People make it great. So when you re-invigorate your rec center, invest in educational training to help your staff deliver the most from every piece of equipment.
- Offer a branded program that keeps your space exciting week after week. Good programming that challenges and builds is essential for community and experience seeking Gen Zs who are used to the gamification of everything.
Today’s rec centers add value to a college education in so many ways, from providing opportunities for various forms of exercise, to encouraging overall health and wellness, to creating community, to sparking lifelong health journeys. It’s an investment with results that are beyond measure.
Matthew Januszek is a co-founder at Escape Fitness and additionally is the host of the Escape Your Limits podcast, which delivers insights from the fitness industry’s most influential entrepreneurs. For more information, visit escapefitness.com/us/, call 614.706.4462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.