Adult play
Making a big play

A combination of over-connectivity and work-life balance stresses are igniting a need in grow ups to rediscover the carefree times and spirit of childhood. Kath Hudson reports on the emerging trend of adults playing like kids

By Kath Hudson | Published in Leisure Management 2016 issue 1

We have lots to thank smartphones and social media for, but both are leading to societal issues as we become increasingly sedentary whiles also giving ourselves less downtime.

As 90 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds have a smartphone and spend around seven hours a day on them (Ofcom), virtual hanging out is replacing physically spending time together, or being fully present when we’re with friends and family. Hanna Chalmers, research director at Ipsos MORI, says research shows young people are spending more time indoors, on their own, than any previous generation. Interestingly, an upside is that engagement in risky behaviours and teenage pregnancy is lower.

Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, consumer trends consultant at Euromonitor, says over-connected consumers are isolated and there are rising concerns that people are even outsourcing their memories to digital devices.

“Now half of the world’s population has internet access, more consumers are dwelling on the flipside of digital life,” says Kasriel-Alexander. “The physical and emotional health hazards of non-stop device use, and the impact on children, teenagers and family time, are all under review. Many adults also have trouble with the work/life balance, often fuelled by over-connectivity.”

Although the virtual world is hypnotisingly alluring, it is frequently dull and unsatisfying, so a kickback is already starting to happen. “New initiatives are developing, to help consumers sidestep digital engagement and reclaim offline living,” says Kasriel-Alexander.

Such initiatives include a luxury jewellery collection from Altruis, which includes a chip connected to the wearers’ smartphone, only alerting them to texts or calls which are urgent.

A hit US app for Millennials, Down to Lunch, encourages users to meet friends in person, while Osss is an app that encourages users to “disconnect in order to connect”, letting contacts know that they are disconnecting.

“More adults are opting for active summer camps as a way for them to enjoy the perceived carefree times of childhood,” she says. “Although the real drivers of this interest in, and success of, adult summer camps are over-connectivity, work/life balance stresses and sedentary lifestyles.”

So, what opportunities does this present for the leisure industry? Many. Adults want to play and not just as part of a family or hen/stag group; there’s a growing appetite for activities which are social, encapsulate an element of childhood nostalgia, laughter and sometimes a shot of adrenalin.

Adult camps

Mates escape

Founded by an overworked 30-something Canadian, Adam Tichauer, who hit on the concept of adult summer camps when he wanted to escape with his mates for the weekend, Camp No Counselor proved an instant hit and soon became a fast-growing business.

Recreating the experience of summer camp, adults can participate in activities like kayaking, rock climbing, softball and tug of war. There’s no wifi and accommodation is in unisex dorms. What differentiates it from kids’ camps is the freely available alcohol and late-night partying.

In the UK, Canoe Cornwall, which primarily works with schoolchildren, is also responding to demand for adult courses, teaching people how to canoe, build shelters and cook on open fires, while they camp on National Trust land.

“It’s camping with a purpose,” says director Jay Dormand. “It appeals to those who fancy getting a bit earthy and back to nature and provides a release from work and their everyday lives. It harks back to the halcyon days of Swallows and Amazons. We teach them the type of skills that grandparents used to teach. Sometimes they use these skills to have fun with their own children, work in the voluntary sector or even change careers.”

Pictured: director Jay Dormand

 



There is no wifi at adult camp, and participants have to sleep in unisex dormitories. Guests are, however, allowed to stay up late partying
 


There is no wifi at adult camp, and participants have to sleep in unisex dormitories. Guests are, however, allowed to stay up late partying
 
 


There is no wifi at adult camp, and participants have to sleep in unisex dormitories. Guests are, however, allowed to stay up late partying
 
 


Canoeing, cooking and bush skills are some of the activities campers master
 
 


Canoeing, cooking and bush skills are some of the activities campers master
 
Wet Obstacle Courses

Splash and dash

Inspired by Total Wipeout, water-based obstacle courses are proving to be another hit. Retallack Resort, in Cornwall, opened its Aqua Park last Easter, with the aim of appealing to the family and team-building market.

After climbing slippery towers and sliding down inflatable slides into the water, adults like to have fish and chips with beer or Prosecco, says marketing director, Amy Keyter.

“It’s quite a workout, so some even use it for the exercise,” says Keyter. “It’s a completely different experience, with adults being able to take their children, be silly and fall over on the inflatables without a care in the world. The danger factor is also appealing: the huge slide is quite daring.”

Offering a similar experience, but without the need for a wetsuit, Ocean Mania in Ibiza’s San Antonio bay has a 7,000sq ft course with interlocking slides, trampolines, balancing beams and bridges, ropes to swing from one piece of equipment to another and even a free floating catapult.

Pictured: Director, Amy Keyter

 



Retallack Resort in Cornwall, UK, saw the trend for water challenge attractions and launched Aqua Park
 


Retallack Resort in Cornwall, UK, saw the trend for water challenge attractions and launched Aqua Park
 
 


Retallack Resort in Cornwall, UK, saw the trend for water challenge attractions and launched Aqua Park
 
 


Ocean Mania is a popular waterside attraction in San Antonio, Ibiza, Spain
 
Swings

Share the thrill

New Zealand’s adrenalin capital, Queenstown, has a long been a playground for adults. The Nevis Swing, at the birthplace of bungee, offers a gnarly experience which is a little less terrifying than jumping off a ledge head first, but still affords bragging rights.

“The Swing doesn’t rely on you physically jumping or pushing yourself off, the thrill is from not knowing when you’ll be released,” says spokesperson Carys Rolley. “It appeals to those with a thirst for adrenaline and the split between male and female is pretty even. It gives a sense of personal achievement, an adrenalin kick and lifelong bragging rights. Customers also love that they can share the thrill of this blood pumping activity with a friend.”

From stomach flipping to whimsical, Canadian company, Daily Tous Les Jours, takes an altogether different approach to swings with its touring swing installation 21 Balancoires (21 Swings). Each swing triggers different notes, so when people swing together they can create a tune. Launched in 2011, New York, Montreal, San Jose and Detroit have all been visited by the swings.

“Melodies emerge only through co-operation, and the exercise of co-operation means more layers are unravelled. It’s a game where people have to adjust to the actions of others,” says co-founder of Daily Tous Les Jours, Mouna Andraos. “Swings were chosen as the conduit because everyone has nostalgic childhood memories of them.”

 



The Nevis Swing in Queenstown, New Zealand – “the thrill is from not knowing when you’ll be released”
 


The Nevis Swing in Queenstown, New Zealand – “the thrill is from not knowing when you’ll be released”
 
 


Touring installation 21 Balancoires (21 Swings) appeals to adults everywhere
 
Slides

The only way is ... down

Nothing takes you back to childhood and puts a smile on your face quicker than losing your stomach on a slide. And they are popping up in the most unlikely places. Last year the Hayward Gallery, on London’s South Bank featured two Carsten Holler slides as an option for visitors to exit the top floor.

Now the Belgian artist has souped up the ArcelorMittal Orbit, at London’s Olympic Park, with a 584-foot tunnel slide. Holler says this is the first time he has attached a piece of his artwork to another piece of artwork.

Launched in June, The Slide features covered and transparent sections, to allow riders to view the London skyline on their 40-second descent. Visitors whizz around the UK’s tallest public artwork 12 times on their way down.

Los Angeles has just seen the launch of the world’s highest slide. Positioned 300 metres above ground level, the glass Skyslide at the OUE Skyspace LA observation deck, runs from the 70th floor to a new observation deck on the 69th floor.

“The OUE executives wanted to include an additional ‘thrill factor’ element which truly made the experience unlike any other,” said an OUE spokesperson. “There’s a whimsical sense of fun and excitement associated with slides which appeals to both adults and children alike; we feel that the Skyslide captures this with an added unique twist, thanks to the height and views below the glass structure.”

The slide, which is expected to draw 1 million visitors a year, will provide secondary revenue (US$8 a go), attract publicity and, unfortunately, a law suit.

According to the LA Times, a woman from New York has filed a suit claiming she broke an ankle on the ride as a result of a flaw in the design, which doesn’t slow you down at the end and a stack of mats in the run-out area creates a gap to trap riders’ feet.

 



The Skyslide at the OUE Skyspace LA observation deck takes guests from the 70th to 69th storey
 


The Skyslide at the OUE Skyspace LA observation deck takes guests from the 70th to 69th storey
 
 


Carsten Holler designed The Slide and its 12 twists around the ArcelorOrbit in London
 
Jumping

On the bounce

“I’m sure there’s a physiological link between bouncing and smiling,” says Dave Stalker, founder of London’s first trampolining park, Oxygen. “People are loving it. We’re not pushing the exercise angle, we’re just selling it as fun.”

This love of jumping is fueling a trampolining boom, with 120 parks operational, or being built in the UK and growing at a rate of 10 per cent a month.

Since launching in July 2015, Oxygen has found that as many as 40 per cent of the visitors are adults, which has exceeded expectations. “We are delighted to know that we are welcoming people of all ages, and that trampolining and staying active isn’t just for the very young,” he says. “We believe adults are looking for experiences which are suitable for all ages and abilities, where they can let off steam and have fun.”

Pictured:Dave Stalker

 



London trampolining centre Oxygen is part of a far wider trampolining trend in the UK
 


London trampolining centre Oxygen is part of a far wider trampolining trend in the UK
 
 


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Leisure Management
2016 Review

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Leisure Management - Making a big play

Adult play

Making a big play


A combination of over-connectivity and work-life balance stresses are igniting a need in grow ups to rediscover the carefree times and spirit of childhood. Kath Hudson reports on the emerging trend of adults playing like kids

Kath Hudson
Making a Big Play

We have lots to thank smartphones and social media for, but both are leading to societal issues as we become increasingly sedentary whiles also giving ourselves less downtime.

As 90 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds have a smartphone and spend around seven hours a day on them (Ofcom), virtual hanging out is replacing physically spending time together, or being fully present when we’re with friends and family. Hanna Chalmers, research director at Ipsos MORI, says research shows young people are spending more time indoors, on their own, than any previous generation. Interestingly, an upside is that engagement in risky behaviours and teenage pregnancy is lower.

Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, consumer trends consultant at Euromonitor, says over-connected consumers are isolated and there are rising concerns that people are even outsourcing their memories to digital devices.

“Now half of the world’s population has internet access, more consumers are dwelling on the flipside of digital life,” says Kasriel-Alexander. “The physical and emotional health hazards of non-stop device use, and the impact on children, teenagers and family time, are all under review. Many adults also have trouble with the work/life balance, often fuelled by over-connectivity.”

Although the virtual world is hypnotisingly alluring, it is frequently dull and unsatisfying, so a kickback is already starting to happen. “New initiatives are developing, to help consumers sidestep digital engagement and reclaim offline living,” says Kasriel-Alexander.

Such initiatives include a luxury jewellery collection from Altruis, which includes a chip connected to the wearers’ smartphone, only alerting them to texts or calls which are urgent.

A hit US app for Millennials, Down to Lunch, encourages users to meet friends in person, while Osss is an app that encourages users to “disconnect in order to connect”, letting contacts know that they are disconnecting.

“More adults are opting for active summer camps as a way for them to enjoy the perceived carefree times of childhood,” she says. “Although the real drivers of this interest in, and success of, adult summer camps are over-connectivity, work/life balance stresses and sedentary lifestyles.”

So, what opportunities does this present for the leisure industry? Many. Adults want to play and not just as part of a family or hen/stag group; there’s a growing appetite for activities which are social, encapsulate an element of childhood nostalgia, laughter and sometimes a shot of adrenalin.

Adult camps

Mates escape

Founded by an overworked 30-something Canadian, Adam Tichauer, who hit on the concept of adult summer camps when he wanted to escape with his mates for the weekend, Camp No Counselor proved an instant hit and soon became a fast-growing business.

Recreating the experience of summer camp, adults can participate in activities like kayaking, rock climbing, softball and tug of war. There’s no wifi and accommodation is in unisex dorms. What differentiates it from kids’ camps is the freely available alcohol and late-night partying.

In the UK, Canoe Cornwall, which primarily works with schoolchildren, is also responding to demand for adult courses, teaching people how to canoe, build shelters and cook on open fires, while they camp on National Trust land.

“It’s camping with a purpose,” says director Jay Dormand. “It appeals to those who fancy getting a bit earthy and back to nature and provides a release from work and their everyday lives. It harks back to the halcyon days of Swallows and Amazons. We teach them the type of skills that grandparents used to teach. Sometimes they use these skills to have fun with their own children, work in the voluntary sector or even change careers.”

Pictured: director Jay Dormand

 



There is no wifi at adult camp, and participants have to sleep in unisex dormitories. Guests are, however, allowed to stay up late partying
 


There is no wifi at adult camp, and participants have to sleep in unisex dormitories. Guests are, however, allowed to stay up late partying
 
 


There is no wifi at adult camp, and participants have to sleep in unisex dormitories. Guests are, however, allowed to stay up late partying
 
 


Canoeing, cooking and bush skills are some of the activities campers master
 
 


Canoeing, cooking and bush skills are some of the activities campers master
 
Wet Obstacle Courses

Splash and dash

Inspired by Total Wipeout, water-based obstacle courses are proving to be another hit. Retallack Resort, in Cornwall, opened its Aqua Park last Easter, with the aim of appealing to the family and team-building market.

After climbing slippery towers and sliding down inflatable slides into the water, adults like to have fish and chips with beer or Prosecco, says marketing director, Amy Keyter.

“It’s quite a workout, so some even use it for the exercise,” says Keyter. “It’s a completely different experience, with adults being able to take their children, be silly and fall over on the inflatables without a care in the world. The danger factor is also appealing: the huge slide is quite daring.”

Offering a similar experience, but without the need for a wetsuit, Ocean Mania in Ibiza’s San Antonio bay has a 7,000sq ft course with interlocking slides, trampolines, balancing beams and bridges, ropes to swing from one piece of equipment to another and even a free floating catapult.

Pictured: Director, Amy Keyter

 



Retallack Resort in Cornwall, UK, saw the trend for water challenge attractions and launched Aqua Park
 


Retallack Resort in Cornwall, UK, saw the trend for water challenge attractions and launched Aqua Park
 
 


Retallack Resort in Cornwall, UK, saw the trend for water challenge attractions and launched Aqua Park
 
 


Ocean Mania is a popular waterside attraction in San Antonio, Ibiza, Spain
 
Swings

Share the thrill

New Zealand’s adrenalin capital, Queenstown, has a long been a playground for adults. The Nevis Swing, at the birthplace of bungee, offers a gnarly experience which is a little less terrifying than jumping off a ledge head first, but still affords bragging rights.

“The Swing doesn’t rely on you physically jumping or pushing yourself off, the thrill is from not knowing when you’ll be released,” says spokesperson Carys Rolley. “It appeals to those with a thirst for adrenaline and the split between male and female is pretty even. It gives a sense of personal achievement, an adrenalin kick and lifelong bragging rights. Customers also love that they can share the thrill of this blood pumping activity with a friend.”

From stomach flipping to whimsical, Canadian company, Daily Tous Les Jours, takes an altogether different approach to swings with its touring swing installation 21 Balancoires (21 Swings). Each swing triggers different notes, so when people swing together they can create a tune. Launched in 2011, New York, Montreal, San Jose and Detroit have all been visited by the swings.

“Melodies emerge only through co-operation, and the exercise of co-operation means more layers are unravelled. It’s a game where people have to adjust to the actions of others,” says co-founder of Daily Tous Les Jours, Mouna Andraos. “Swings were chosen as the conduit because everyone has nostalgic childhood memories of them.”

 



The Nevis Swing in Queenstown, New Zealand – “the thrill is from not knowing when you’ll be released”
 


The Nevis Swing in Queenstown, New Zealand – “the thrill is from not knowing when you’ll be released”
 
 


Touring installation 21 Balancoires (21 Swings) appeals to adults everywhere
 
Slides

The only way is ... down

Nothing takes you back to childhood and puts a smile on your face quicker than losing your stomach on a slide. And they are popping up in the most unlikely places. Last year the Hayward Gallery, on London’s South Bank featured two Carsten Holler slides as an option for visitors to exit the top floor.

Now the Belgian artist has souped up the ArcelorMittal Orbit, at London’s Olympic Park, with a 584-foot tunnel slide. Holler says this is the first time he has attached a piece of his artwork to another piece of artwork.

Launched in June, The Slide features covered and transparent sections, to allow riders to view the London skyline on their 40-second descent. Visitors whizz around the UK’s tallest public artwork 12 times on their way down.

Los Angeles has just seen the launch of the world’s highest slide. Positioned 300 metres above ground level, the glass Skyslide at the OUE Skyspace LA observation deck, runs from the 70th floor to a new observation deck on the 69th floor.

“The OUE executives wanted to include an additional ‘thrill factor’ element which truly made the experience unlike any other,” said an OUE spokesperson. “There’s a whimsical sense of fun and excitement associated with slides which appeals to both adults and children alike; we feel that the Skyslide captures this with an added unique twist, thanks to the height and views below the glass structure.”

The slide, which is expected to draw 1 million visitors a year, will provide secondary revenue (US$8 a go), attract publicity and, unfortunately, a law suit.

According to the LA Times, a woman from New York has filed a suit claiming she broke an ankle on the ride as a result of a flaw in the design, which doesn’t slow you down at the end and a stack of mats in the run-out area creates a gap to trap riders’ feet.

 



The Skyslide at the OUE Skyspace LA observation deck takes guests from the 70th to 69th storey
 


The Skyslide at the OUE Skyspace LA observation deck takes guests from the 70th to 69th storey
 
 


Carsten Holler designed The Slide and its 12 twists around the ArcelorOrbit in London
 
Jumping

On the bounce

“I’m sure there’s a physiological link between bouncing and smiling,” says Dave Stalker, founder of London’s first trampolining park, Oxygen. “People are loving it. We’re not pushing the exercise angle, we’re just selling it as fun.”

This love of jumping is fueling a trampolining boom, with 120 parks operational, or being built in the UK and growing at a rate of 10 per cent a month.

Since launching in July 2015, Oxygen has found that as many as 40 per cent of the visitors are adults, which has exceeded expectations. “We are delighted to know that we are welcoming people of all ages, and that trampolining and staying active isn’t just for the very young,” he says. “We believe adults are looking for experiences which are suitable for all ages and abilities, where they can let off steam and have fun.”

Pictured:Dave Stalker

 



London trampolining centre Oxygen is part of a far wider trampolining trend in the UK
 


London trampolining centre Oxygen is part of a far wider trampolining trend in the UK
 

Originally published in Leisure Management 2016 issue 1

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd