Manchester City Football Club, in East Manchester, England, recently opened a new facility dedicated to training both current soccer stars and future prospects in the club’s youth teams. The $312 million, four-year project forms a key part of plans both to regenerate the surrounding industrial wasteland and to enhance Manchester City FC’s standing as one of the English Premier League’s top soccer teams.
In addition to 17 pitches and three gyms constructed as part of the new facility, the site includes a 7,000 capacity stadium for the development of squad teams, Manchester City Women’s FC, and community use. Parts of the facility will be reserved for use by local schoolchildren.
“The development of top-notch training facilities by English soccer teams is of prime interest to the United States, given the ever-growing popularity of the sport here and the current interest in developing young talent,” said Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a sports center management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Teams in the MLS and other U.S.-based soccer outfits will take a cue from facilities such as Manchester City’s new one, and it won’t be long before we start to see more of them here.”
The football club’s project represents part of a larger movement within the soccer world to attract top players with state-of-the-art training facilities
James Madison University recently announced plans to construct an 8,500-seat arena to house the campus’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. The arena, set to cost $88 million, also will host public speakers, serve as the university’s convocation and graduation center, and provide space for high school graduation ceremonies, concerts, conventions, trade shows, and family-style entertainment.
Slated to feature premium seating areas, the new arena will include a club level, private suites and hospitality spaces, and pre-event spaces for students. But its central purpose will be to serve as the locus for the university’s basketball programs. It will house high-quality offices, locker rooms, training spaces, meeting rooms, and a full-court practice facility with six shooting stations.
“These days, college basketball revolves around recruiting,” observed Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports center management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “James Madison University’s new facility certainly will give the campus an edge in attracting the best student-athletes and developing their skills.”
The university has not yet announced a date for construction to begin. A fundraising goal of $12 has been set, but university officials stated that all support must be secured before construction on the project can begin. While no formal timeline has been delineated, the university is actively fundraising.
Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) received a $1 million gift for the expansion of the strength and conditioning facility at its on-campus arena. The new facility will be added to the existing arena, and will exclusively serve the university’s 250 student-athletes. Currently, the student-athletes share a weight room with the general student population.
Donors Jim and Donna Sublett wanted to increase opportunities for athletes to train intensely. In a press release, Jim Sublett said, “Many FGCU student-athletes will continue to bring honor and recognition to the university, partially because of the excellent new facility to fine-tune their bodies, skills, and talents.”
Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York, remarked on the benefits of focused training for athletes. “Having access to a facility designed exclusively for athletic training will allow FGCU’s student-athletes to practice more intensely, develop a greater sense of what their bodies can do, and challenge themselves in a more community-centered atmosphere. The new strength and conditioning facility is great news for the university’s sports teams.” The Subletts’ donation represents part of a $12 million capital campaign FGCU’s athletic department is running. Approximately $7 million of that amount will allow for planned updates to the arena, including the new strength and conditioning facility, and $5 million will go toward scholarships, recruiting budgets, and additional facility enhancements.
The Atlanta Braves are proposing moving their spring training facility from the Orlando area to St. Petersburg, Florida. In a formal proposal submitted to officials of Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is located, Braves president John Schuerholz noted that he hopes to reach an agreement to relocate by the end of the year. Construction of a new training facility would begin by next year, with completion scheduled for 2018.
Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer, said that the construction of a new facility would be a boon to the baseball team, which would spend less time traveling to practice space and more time on the field. “Also,” he noted, “the proposed facility includes a 10,000-seat stadium with berm seating for an additional 1,000 fans. Along with additional athletic fields and an on-site hotel, that would make the new facility a clear destination for amateur and professional sports alike.”
The Braves have trained at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, since 1998, but the team’s lease there expires in 2017. The St. Petersburg location is not the only one under consideration for the new facility, but Braves president John Scheurholz implied in a letter submitted to county officials that it is the most desirable one.
Most likely, any move the Braves make will include public financing. The Astros and the Nationals recently launched new training sites of their own, leaving the same Disney location that the Braves are leaving, and each team received a $108 million pledge in public funds from Palm Beach County, with the state pledging another $50 million toward costs of building and financing the planned facilities.
A Florida-based development group has launched plans for an extreme sports action park in Kissimmee, Florida. The park, dubbed The Xero Gravity Action Sports and Entertainment Resort, will include a 14-story ski and snowboard slope, a 25,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor skateboard arena, a USA-BMX-sanctioned racetrack, two sky-diving pods, two 14-story water slides, an indoor dodge ball trampoline court, a 140-foot-tall climbing wall, a river of white-water rapids, and multiple zip lines.
“Extreme sports and sports tourism are booming sectors of the fitness industry,” says Eric Willin, Chief Operating Officer of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “This is exactly the right moment for a park such as the Xero Gravity Action Sports and Entertainment Resort, and, given the other attractions in the area, the proposed location makes good business sense. This is going to be a sports complex to watch.”
The estimated cost of the complex is $309 million, and it is slated to open in 2018. Projected taxable sales for the proposed complex are estimated to be $1.97 billion over a 10-year period. Reportedly, admission to the park will cost between $35 and $95.
The Minnesota Vikings stadium stands to be the first stadium in the United States to illuminate its fields with LED installed during construction. With lower energy needs than traditional lighting and color-tuning technology, LED saves sports venues and other facilities significant amounts of money while providing more effective lighting.
The lighting has become a common feature of ice rinks in the American Hockey League, and tennis, basketball, and soccer facilities have long made use of it. But venues in the National Football League have been slow to embrace it. So far, two NFL stadiums have converted to LED — the University of Phoenix Stadium, home to the Arizona Cardinals, and the NRG Stadium, home to the Houston Texans. The Minnesota venue will be the first to incorporate LED from inception.
“There are many potential advantages to lighting a sports venue with LED,” says Eric Willin, Chief Operating Officer, of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “On a basic level, spectators often can just see better what’s happening on the field. In addition, LED lights have more functions than older lights—they can be programmed for specific effects throughout a game. But most of all, LED lighting consumes 75 to 90 percent less energy than traditional lighting systems. That’s good for the environment and translates into enormous cost savings.”
Viking officials have said that part of their goal during the $1.1 billion project has been making environmentally friendly choices. Currently in the planning phase, the stadium is slated for completion in July 2016.
The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS), is expanding its Recreation and Wellness center in a $16.3 million project scheduled for completion in October. Currently 54,000 square feet, the renovated center will be nearly twice that size and will include additional cardio and strength equipment, multipurpose studios for group exercise, basketball courts, new men’s and women’s locker rooms, two gender-neutral restrooms, office space, a social gathering area, and a welcome center.
In addition, the facility will house a student health center and counseling center. According to UCCS officials, the facility will be the first in the nation to pull together campus recreation, a student health center, a counseling center, and elements of nutrition education under the same roof.
“More and more, especially at universities, we’re seeing a trend toward comprehensive centers that include athletic facilities, general exercise areas, and various health and recreation services,” said Eric Willin, Chief Operating Officer, at EZFacility, a fitness center management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Bringing all these functions together makes sense, and it provides an exciting dynamic surrounding health and wellness efforts on campus.”
The existing center has been lauded for its LEED gold rating, achieved through an environmentally friendly design and construction. The expanded center also has been designed to meet LEED gold standards. Its green elements include water-efficient landscaping, on-site storm water treatment, and use of local and recycled materials in construction. An on-site touchscreen shows real-time measurements of building energy use.
A new trend is keeping adult millennials — the generation of Americans born roughly between 1980 and 2000 — in good shape: for-profit businesses that run adult sports leagues. Popping up around the country, such businesses set up teams, arrange for referees, and coordinate practice and game sites. Customers sign up as part of a team or as free agents, with costs running anywhere from $50 per person to $90 per person for a season.
Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports business software provider in Woodbury, New York, says that such for-profit leagues are a natural fit for millennials. “Members of the millennial generation tend to have grown up with schedules packed with extracurricular sports,” he says. “They learned to develop social circles through the sports they played, and they miss the physical exercise plus socializing they got through the organized teams they played for. It’s no surprise that this group is enthusiastic about competing in adult recreation leagues, and no surprise that the supply is developing to meet the demand.”
Valley Sports Leagues, in Parkland, Pennsylvania, is one company that organizes adult leagues. Operated like nonprofit youth sports groups, it coordinates teams playing a range of sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, flag football, dodgeball, and kickball. Ahmed Attia, one of the co-founders of Valley Sports Leagues, told the online publication The Morning Call, “If we could help an individual switch lifestyles to a healthier one, that’s really what we try to target. It’s kind of hard to not show up when you have teammates counting on you.” The idea that customers will seek a structure that holds them accountable to teammates is what drives for-profit adult leagues.
In general, millennials are much more receptive to this idea than are Gen-Xers, members of the preceding generation. According to Sports Marketing Surveys USA, a research company that provides data for the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, millennials are twice as likely and their Generation X counterparts to participate in team sports as adults.
The Florida Gators, the University of Florida’s intercollegiate football team, recently announced plans to construct a $15 million indoor practice facility. Currently the only team in the Southeastern Conference league to lack designated indoor practice space, the Gators were forced to miss 30 practices in 2014 because of weather-related events.
The new facility will house a 120-yard synthetic turf field, additional space for practice drills, three camera platforms, satellite training-room facilities, equipment storage, and restrooms.
“It’s crucial for a top-tier college athletic center to offer indoor practice space,” says Eric Willin, Chief Operating Officer, of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “The world of major collegiate sports is ultra-competitive. For a team like the Gators to miss out on dozens of practices because weather has held them back is simply a shame. It’ll be a huge step forward for the team to have its own indoor facility.”
When inclement weather strikes now, the Gators sometimes move into the university’s men’s and women’s basketball center or to the nearby Florida Gym. But the logistics of transferring the entire team to these locations when weather turns foul can be daunting.
The project will be funded through private gifts and capital financing. Davis Architects of Birmingham, Alabama, is the project designer. Construction began in early January, and the center is slated to be ready for use in September.
Anytime Fitness, in partnership with the Minnesota-based nonprofit Tee It Up for the Troops, recently launched Operation Heartfirst, a program that supports veterans who want to open their own Anytime Fitness franchises. The program offers honorably discharged veterans a $125,000 grant and a $125,000 loan as start-up capital for the development of an Anytime Fitness Franchise.
The program also waives Anytime Fitness’s initial franchise fee and ongoing royalty payments. It allows selected franchisees the opportunity to determine the precise location of their gyms.
“Operation Heartfirst is an innovative program in which all involved parties win,” said Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a gym management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “It’s unconscionable that the unemployment rate for military veterans is significantly higher than the national average. Offering veterans a leg up with a program like Operation Heartfirst gives them and their families stability, benefits the economy, creates more opportunities for improved health in communities, and allows Anytime Fitness to grow its brand. This is truly a program to be proud of.”
Through Operation Heartfirst, Anytime Fitness provides a grant to Tee It Up for the Troops, which oversees the selection of applicants and the management of logistics. Veterans who apply must have a passion for fitness and community engagement, Anytime Fitness has stated, and must also meet other key criteria. The selection committee will give special consideration to veterans with service-related disabilities.
The first Operation Heartfirst recipient will be selected by June 1; the first club opening under the program is expected by the end of 2015.
A new indoor ice center slated to open in the Bronx, New York, in 2017 will generate more than $1.7 billion in economic benefits to the surrounding community, according to a study recently released by the center’s developer. If built according to plans, the 750,000-square-foot facility, known as the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, will become the largest of its kind, hosting nine indoor ice rinks and a giant community center.
The facility will occupy an existing building, the Kingsbridge Armory, which has stood vacant since 1996. Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, spokesperson for the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, called the ice center “a game changer” for the neighborhood. She said, “We’re on the cusp of creating a new economy for the Northwest Bronx.”
“We’ve seen new athletic facilities completely transform the communities in which they’re established,” said Danielle Comeau of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Jobs, tourism, sports teams, fans, nearby restaurants and hotels — all of these things follow in the wake of new sports facilities, and they can have a huge positive impact on the local area.”
When plans for the ice center were drawn up, the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance signed an agreement requiring at least 51 percent of employees to be Bronx residents, and stipulating that employees be paid at least $10 per hour with benefits or $11.50 without. In addition, the community will receive 1.5 percent of the ice center’s annual revenues, or $276 million over the 99-year lease period. Also, the residents of the surrounding area will have free access to the 50,000-square-foot community center that will occupy the rink.
In recent years, the fitness industry has seen a surge in popularity of mud-runs and obstacle course races. Exercise enthusiasts are drawn in by the unique experiences, sense of accomplishment and camaraderie with fellow competitors at these events. With the rise of big name competitions such as The Warrior Dash, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder (just to name a few), clubs and gyms need to assume many of their clients will want to compete. According to RACKED.com, Tough Mudder alone has had over 1.5 million participants since it began in 2010 and it is estimated that roughly 15,000 people participate in each event. Fitness businesses can capitalize on this increasing popularity by offering programs specifically catered to these challenges. Although some participants spend weeks or months training, all could benefit immensely from personal trainers to properly prepare them.
An inexperienced competitor may assume establishing a running routine will be enough to prepare. Clients should not be training like runners; they should be training like athletes. According to Casey Stutzman, director of education at Bay Athletic Club, while personal trainers should gear up clients with a base of cardiorespiratory fitness, clients will also need, “…a combination of body awareness, muscular strength and muscular endurance developed through body weight training”. Obstacle courses often require climbing, throwing, lifting, jumping, pulling, crawling, and running in short bursts, therefore, training protocols will have to be unique and not necessarily follow a usual gym regime. For example, a cornerstone during Tough Mudder is a 20-foot wall that teammates need to scale and climb over. To successfully prepare participants for such a challenge, personal training programs should include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) oriented circuits, and moves such as chin-ups, pull-ups and corncob pull-ups to improve grip-strength and muscular endurance.
Fitness businesses should also consider incorporating climbing walls, ramps, hurdles, ropes and other equipment into their facilities to further prepare clients for these events. Furthermore, gyms can benefit from organized facility registrations. For example, encourage clients to sign up in groups to train for events and offer competitions to pay for their registration fees. As the adventure/recreational industry and fitness industry continue to collide, gyms would do well to include programs and equipment that cater specifically to participants gearing up to compete in these national events.
Members of Congress, after working closely with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), an organization of professional athletic trainers and supporters of the profession, recently introduced the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act. The new bill allows athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals to be covered by medical malpractice insurance as they travel, with athletes under their care, outside of their primary licensure state.
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide medical health care to athletes. Currently, medical malpractice insurances are not required to provide coverage to athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals for treating athletes, while outside of their primary licensure state. In other words, these medical professionals are at risk of professional loss if they treat an athlete across state lines. The introduced bill dissolves this issue and provides clarity to an unclear system by specifying such requirements.
“Facilities that have traveling athletic trainers or medical specialists for their athletes will benefit from this new bill.” said Joseph Rossi of EZFacility, a sports facility software provider located in Woodbury, New York. “Traveling is a big part of their job, and this bill affords them peace of mind.”
The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act expands liability insurance coverage to athletic trainer’s and sports medicine specialists to states outside of their primary licensure state. The bill affords these medical professionals the protection they deserve. If you would like to help, please contact your Congress representative and ask for their support of the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act. For more information, please visit http://www.nata.org/NR03182015.
Fit3D, the developers of innovative body imaging technology, recently launched their new product that is set to take the field of fitness assessment to the next level. The ProScanner allows the user to see beyond the pounds as they work to achieve their fitness goals.
According to Club Solutions, an industry leading fitness magazine, the high-tech measuring system scans the user’s entire body and provides accurate feedback about their fitness progress with a 3D model. The results identify elements that cannot be seen with a common weight scale, such as muscle development, BMI, increased endurance, etc. Ultimately, the state of the art scale allows clients to visually see progress.
“This really is the next evolution of fitness assessment.” said Joseph Rossi of EZFacility, a gym management software provider located in Woodbury, New York. “Many gym goers lose motivation either from not seeing immediate results or losing track of their progress. However, technology like the ProScanner solves both of these problems. Providing the ability to visualize physiological changes within the body will serve as a strong motivator for gym members to continue their routine.”
Fitness assessment is being taken to new heights with emerging technologies that provide further insight and analysis of the human body. It is these high-tech and innovative advancements that will keep members in the gym, and provide instruction as they seek to achieve their fitness desires.
A new multi-purpose sports facility, TNT Sportsplex, opened its doors in downtown Kingsport, Tennessee. According to Times News, the new facility spans 30,000 square feet, holds four high school regulation sized basketball courts, and can hold approximately 560 people.
The downtown Kingsport facility has been tailored for leagues, tournaments, and camps to accommodate a wide range of sports and activities. In addition, customers have the option to rent courts for a variety of occasions such as birthday parties. The biggest upside, to adding a sports facility to downtown Kingsport, is the new customers and revenue it will bring to local businesses.
“TNT Sportsplex is a game changer for the downtown Kingsport area.” said Joseph Rossi, an employee of EZFacility, a sports facility management software provider located in Woodbury, New York. “It has completely changed the atmosphere and given the downtown new life. People can go watch a game and then step into town afterwards, similar to what you would experience at a major league venue.”
TNT Sportsplex still has advertising and sponsorship opportunities available. To learn more about these opportunities or about TNT Sportsplex, visit their website.
Seminole County, Florida, is planning the construction of a major sports complex aimed at attracting youth athletic tournaments. The $27-million complex, designed to stretch over 102 acres, will include a baseball stadium and fields for soccer, lacrosse, football, and softball.
The county sits close to Disney World and other large, popular theme parks, and has been looking for a way to increase local tourism. A study conducted by Seminole County suggested that one tournament could draw as many as 1,900 people. According to the study, 17 events in one year could generate about $19 million for the local economy and add more than a dozen jobs. After five years, and with additional tournaments, the income generated locally would rise to $25 million, county officials said. The figure represents spending by visitors at nearby hotels and restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses.
Eric WIllin, COO, of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York, noted that city and county governments around the country are looking into establishing similar sports complexes as a way to generate revenue and support local business. “Youth sports travel has become a huge industry,” he said. “Families like the idea of traveling with a purpose, and if that purpose is deepening or challenging their children’s skills — or just allowing their kids to have as much fun as possible — then all the better. Simply put, it’s become a multibillion-dollar industry.” According to the latest figures compiled by the National Association of Sports Commissions, an Ohio-based group that works with tournament organizers and facilities, families spent an estimated $7.68 billion traveling with their children to youth-sports tournaments in the United States in 2011.
The proposed Seminole County facility would include 15 lighted fields with synthetic turf, suitable for baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse. The complex would also include a pavilion, walking paths, a playground, and a food-truck court. In addition to catering to athletic tourism, county officials noted, the complex would open its doors to local residents as well, allowing them use of the fields and other facility amenities.
A grant of more than $2.52 million has been awarded to an assistant professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University, who aims to compare the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with usual Army physical readiness training among active-duty military personnel.
The professor, Katie Heinrich, received the grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Her study, she said in a press release from the university, could shed light on the issue of obesity in the military because of the potential HIIT offers for promoting fat loss through increased post-exercise fat metabolism.
“A study that looks at the effects of HIIT in comparison with a rigorous exercise program like that of the U.S. military is deeply significant for the fitness industry,” said Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a fitness center management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Given the popularity of HIIT-focused programs, an understanding of how they compare with Army-style exercising could help gym, health club, and fitness center owners better understand how, where, and how much to incorporate and promote HIIT in their facilities.”
According to the university’s pres release, Heinrich and her team will work with the Command and General Staff College and Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Wilmington College, in Wilmington, Ohio, recently broke ground on an $8.4 million Center for Sport Sciences. A multi-purpose facility featuring medical services for athletes, athletic training areas, classrooms, labs, indoor fields, and batting cages, the 41,000-square-foot complex is expected to begin operating by summer 2015.
In addition to its own offerings, the Center for Sport Sciences will include space for satellite offices of Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, Drayer Physical Therapy, and Clinton Memorial Hospital.
Athletic training and sports management are two of the most popular majors at Wilmington College, where nearly 45 percent of the 1,100 students enrolled at the main campus are involved in intercollegiate athletics. Terry Rupert, vice president for athletics administration, told the Cincinnati Business Courier that “the center will directly impact well over half of [the college’s] student body as they engage in their academic, athletic, and recreational pursuits, and will be an especially appealing attraction for prospective students.”
“It makes good sense for a sports facility at an educational institution to approach athletics holistically, with an eye toward teaching sports science and providing medical services to athletes,” said Eric Willin, COO, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, NY. “We look forward to seeing this center in action once construction is complete.”
The athletic training portion of Wilmington’s new facility will include two in-ground hydrotherapy pools, electrical muscle stimulators, and cryo-compression and ultrasound units. The practice spaces will feature an indoor, multi-use field with artificial turf and batting cages. The facility will open to an outdoor, lighted field with artificial turf for a range of sports.
Citizens Business Bank Arena, in Ontario, California, has become the first professional hockey arena in the United States to use recycled water. For the 2014-15 season of the Ontario Reign hockey team, the arena will create its ice rink out of recycled water while also using recycled water for the facility’s cooling towers. The initiative will result in an estimated savings of 5 million gallons of drinking water per year.
Citizens Business Bank Arena said in a release that it has taken several steps to cut its yearly water consumption, including installing low-flow faucets and waterless urinals. The news comes at a time when California is in a drought state of emergency, with rivers and reservoirs at record-low levels.
Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York, praised the effort, noting a recent spike in news of sports-related businesses finding more sustainable ways of operating. In addition, the move might positively influence individuals in the community and other businesses, Eric Willin said: “Hopefully, Citizens Business Bank Arena will inspire others to find ways of conserving water as well.”
Participants in the project include the City of Ontario and the Inland Empire Utilities agency, which is providing the recycled water, Citizens Business Bank arena said. The arena noted that it has been using recycled water for irrigation since 2008.
Technogym, the Italian exercise equipment company, recently announced its appointment as the official equipment supplier at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The upcoming games will mark Technogym’s sixth time as official supplier.
The company reportedly will provide equipment for the main Olympic Village in Barra da Tijuca and will equip 15 centers and warm-up areas at competition venues. About 1,000 pieces of Technogym equipment and Technogym’s mywellness cloud digital platform will be installed. Technogym also will provide 50 athletic trainers as well as gym layout, installation, and technical service.
“We are very proud to have been chosen for the sixth time as the official supplier of the Olympic Games,” Nerio Alessandri, president and founder of Technogym, said in a statement. “This important achievement represents a victory for the whole Technogym team and a strong reference on our products innovation and quality standards.”
Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a fitness facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York, noted the prevalence of Technogym equipment at gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers throughout the world. “Fitness facilities constantly seek out equipment that can be efficiently managed and that showcases both innovation and a commitment to traditional quality,” he said. “As official equipment supplier for the Olympics six times in a row, Technogym has established itself as a trusted brand.”
XSport Fitness, a chain of 24-hour fitness facilities based in Big Rock, Illinois, recently announced plans to expand in its three primary markets: Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.
By the end of 2016, XSport will have opened new clubs in Melrose Park, Illinois; the Bronx, New York; and Fort Totten, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. With a reported $176 million in 2013 revenue, XSport is well poised for expansion. In addition to the new clubs, the company also plans an $8 million renovation for its Belmont-Ashland club in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.
“It’s interesting to watch the growth of a club like XSport Fitness,” said Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a health club management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Club Industry magazine ranks the company number 8 on its Top 100 Clubs list, and year after year the Better Business Bureau gives it an A+ score. Clearly, members are happy with its structure and offerings, and its sound business plan keeps it a successful and growing enterprise.”
The company’s three new clubs and the renovated one will each feature more than 200 pieces of equipment, personal training, XIT group training, a basketball court, a four-lane lap pool, a resistance pool, a full-day spa, a child play area, and a pro shop.
In January, XSport opened two express clubs, one in Woodbridge, Virginia, and one in Matteson, Illinois, and in May it opened a full-service club in Norridge, Illinois.
While athletic facilities with outdoor fields frequently feature turf, and often turf that’s colored to display team or school spirit, it’s rare to find a baseball field with synthetic turf—especially synthetic turf that’s bright red. But the University of Northwestern Ohio, in Lima, Ohio, has become the first in the nation to sport a red baseball field. The surface will be ready for play in the 2015 fall and spring seasons.
“Turf allows us to save not only on maintenance, but travel as well,” said the university’s head coach, Kory Hartman. “It can be difficult to play games this far north in early March.” With the new synthetic field, the team should be in a better position to host early-season games.
“Baseball is a symbol in our country, and it’s easy to feel nostalgic about playing on natural grass,” said Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York, “but there are many advantages to covering a baseball field in turf, both economically and in terms of the quality of play. The University of Northwestern Ohio is going the turf route in style.”
Because of baseball’s early-start season, many teams, especially in northern parts of the United States, are forced by the weather to practice in gymnasiums and batting cages, as opposed to on an actual field. Turf allows teams to play outdoors in wet and even snowy weather; as a result, in the past few years, more and more leagues have allowed the installation of synthetic fields.
A new athletic complex is coming to Ladera Ranch, California — right next door to a massive storage facility. Michael Schwartz, owner of Smart Stop Self Storage and Strategic Storage Trust, Inc., has received municipal approval to build a $32.6 million athletic center on a plot of land adjacent to his 100,000-square-foot storage facility.
The complex will include a 56,000-square-foot gymnasium with eight basketball and volleyball courts. It will also expand Smart Stop’s operations, with 41,400 square feet of the new building dedicated to storage and 21,000 square feet set aside for Smart Shop’s office headquarters. Built-in features will include cameras on all courts, so that parents or sports scouts can log in remotely to watch games or practices. In addition, plans for the facility include the installation of rooftop solar panels and an architectural design that will stand out in the community.
Schwartz told the Orange County Register that the project fits in with the company’s vision for serving the community. “It’s not a small endeavor, but we really believe in the community,” he said. “The mixed-use financially makes sense. We can build the nicest indoor gymnasium in the U.S., and we need to expand storage space and offices for our growing operations.”
Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York, called the move an intriguing experiment. “Community-minded entrepreneurs look for ways to grow their businesses while also serving their localities. There is almost no community in the United States that would not benefit from having an easily accessible athletic center available for use. Situating such a center within an already established business stands to benefit all parties involved.”
Schwartz commented that anyone will be able to rent the athletic center, including the players and club teams of local basketball and volleyball leagues, as well as high school teams.
A three-year plan to renovate the student recreation center at the University of Colorado-Boulder is starting to bear fruit, with a new pool now on campus and new tennis courts slated to be operational at the end of July. The pool has been a focal point of the project, as it is uniquely shaped to resemble a charging buffalo, the university’s mascot.
In April 2011, more than 70 percent of students at the university voted to increase student fees in support of a $63.5 million recreation center overhaul. In addition to the pool and tennis courts, the overhaul has resulted in a strength and conditioning space double its original size, a much larger group exercise and fitness studio, a new ice rink, a refurbishing of existing gym spaces, a new climbing gym and bouldering wall, and a renovation of locker rooms, lobbies, and meeting spaces.
“Like many other universities, the University of Colorado at Boulder has recognized the need for a top-notch exercise facility,” said Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a fitness center management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Prospective students weigh exercise facilities carefully when they’re comparing universities and deciding which one to attend. If a school lacks decent space with high-quality equipment and an array of classes and other offerings, prospectives go elsewhere. Also, as demonstrated by the buffalo-shaped pool, a school’s rec center is a mark of pride — it’s a center for school spirit.”
Annie Mulvaney, assistant director of marketing and external relations for Colorado’s recreation service, told the university’s newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, that the recreation center received some criticism for spending extra money on an elaborately shaped pool that, being outdoors, will be open for only a short time each year. But she noted that it’s a feature students have supported heartily.
YogaWorks, a Los Angeles-based company that operates 29 studios in California and New York, was sold to the Boston-based private equity firm Great Hill Partners earlier this month.
The yoga studio’s parent firm, Highland Capital Partners, sold the company for about $45 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition to studio-based classes, YogaWorks produces online courses and videos through MyYogaWorks and has an established teacher-training progam.
“The popularity of yoga is on the rise and has been for years,” says Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a fitness facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Investing in a yoga studio is simply a good business decision, especially if the studio is an established brand with the potential to thrive in new markets.”
Great Hill Partners has more than $3 billion under management. A spokesperson for the firm told the Wall Street Journal that YogaWorks was an appealing acquisition because of its robust brand recognition. Also, Great Hill’s research reportedly has shown that yoga class attendance is increasing at a rate of more than 10 percent per year.