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James Braam Discusses the Evolution of Campus Recreation Facilities

James Braam, a director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, spoke with Athletic Business about key trends and the evolution of campus recreation facilities.

Excerpted from Athletic Business:

From the first weight rooms, fitness evolved into what many consider the Big Three—free weights, selectorized machines and cardio equipment—and today, many recognize a fourth dimension. ‘The biggest growth we’re seeing is the need for functional training,’ says James Braam of HOK. ‘People want to be able to design their workout. Where we used to have smaller nooks for stretching, we’re seeing a whole workout where you may be stretching as part of a core workout, then doing sprints back and forth on a piece of indoor turf—that space is there and dedicated but also needs to be flexible.’

Additionally, as the mission of recreation shifts from physical fitness to include mental and emotional wellbeing, services complementary to exercise are finding their way into the recreation center. “There’s this greater appreciation now for wellness in a holistic sense,” Braam says. “We’re seeing a change toward not only clinical, but also psychological services, as well as nutrition. We’re only touching the surface right now. We’re seeing greater opportunity to have a full health and wellness component within these buildings.”

“It’s not just the wow factor, it’s the lifestyle, the idea of embracing wellness,” says Braam. “We know that it’s the students who are exercising who get better grades. At the end of the day, it’s about the students and what they need and what can improve their quality of life.”


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