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What community recreation leaders should take into consideration when designing a new locker room or remodeling their current one.

Locker rooms are an essential aspect of community recreation facilities. However, they have changed over the years and are continuing to evolve to this day. 

“A trend we are seeing is locker rooms transitioning from a changing area into a lounge area or spa-like feature within the facility,” said Bill Zazynski, the chief property and facilities officer for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads with 21 locations throughout Virginia. “For our Ys, the trend we focus on for renovations or new facilities is to ensure our locker rooms provide space and accommodation for all, no matter your ability — addressing ADA compliance and considering many other differing abilities — as well as creating space to support all types of families and individuals.”

When designing locker rooms, Zazynski said they look to ensure they accommodate and support all of the attributes of the Y. They specifically did this for their Northampton County YMCA location that opened in May 2021. The locker areas provide an easy space for changing, showers and typical fitness accommodations, plus the family changing rooms offer a spot for parents to help their children before and after a swim. 

“The community is very excited about the two outdoor pools —a lap swimming and fitness pool, plus a zero-entry kid’s spray park and pool playground — so we added SUITMATE Swimsuit Water Extractors in the locker rooms to help our swimmers have an easy experience at the Y,” said Zazynski.

Another YMCA that prioritizes an easy member experience is the YMCA of Bucks County with five locations through Pennsylvania. 

“At the YMCA of Bucks County, we pay very close attention to detail in relationship to the member experience,” said Trish Feinthel, the chief operating officer at the YMCA of Bucks County. “Regarding ease of use and efficiency, examples include our choice behind the size of the lockers. We asked questions to our architect such as, ‘Do the measurements support the appropriate hanging placement for a business suit?’ or ‘What about a swim team backpack?’”

Feinthel said the Bucks County Y also paid particular attention to the small details when designing their locker rooms, like the type of shower head installed. They intentionally chose a rain shower head so dry, dressed parents are not sprayed with water while trying to shower their children. The rain shower head also keeps surrounding floors drier than the typical spray head, reducing slips, trips and falls. 

From preventing risks and accommodating all of your members, there is a lot to consider when it comes to designing locker rooms. In order to deliver the best space for your facility, it’s key to seek help. 

“Don’t design alone. We highly recommend connecting with like providers who recently completed an install to learn from their experiences — what worked, what didn’t, etc.,” said Feinthel. “We participated in multiple site visits and leaned on our YMCA partners for guidance before coming to a final design.” 

Universal Locker Room at the YMCA of Bucks County

“It was very important to our president and CEO, Zane Moore, as well as to our board and donors, to create a universal locker room that welcomes and embraces the diverse and unique populations we serve — from cancer survivors, to veterans and individuals with disabilities,” said Trish Feinthel. “To this, all entry/exit doors possess a touchless motion sensor for entrance and exit; there are also 20 single-occupancy or family changing toilet and showering spaces to accommodate all of life’s situations.”

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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