Recreation trends shift with student's interestsBy Elizabeth Thiel | 02/07/2018 10:09pm
Students worried about “New Year’s resolutions” crowds flooding gyms in the early months of the year may stray away from the on-campus facilities that they know, but the University offers more resources than students may realize. Between classes and equipment at the Student Recreation Center, the Aquatic Center and the Robert E. Witt Student Activity Center, students have a variety of options to customize their fitness routines.
Numbers of visitors to on-campus fitness facilities have increased in the beginning of the year, but not the difference isn’t as dramatic as one might assume.
“Traditionally, our numbers do spike in the beginning of the semester, but that’s for every semester,” said Ashley Sanders, Coordinator of Facility Operations for University Recreations. “For the spring semester, our numbers will be pretty high until the week before Spring Break.”
The Student Recreation center alone hosts up to 1,000 guests per hour on an average day. Much like the trends in the semester, the Rec sees more visitors in the early days of the week.
An increased number of guests doesn’t intimidate the staff. Sanders said the facilities tend to run smoothly even at the height of their popularity. The staff are used to accomodating large crowds on a regular basis.
“I would say it’s pretty routine because we still keep a steady population. While our numbers go up slightly at the beginning of the semester, and we will say, ‘Oh my goodness, yeah, we’re super busy,’ no matter what, between 3:00 to about 10:00 at night, we’re going to be slammed no matter what,” Sanders said.
Many members of the Tuscaloosa community also utilize on-campus fitness and recreation facilities, particularly the Rec.
“We sell guest passes, so every night we’re selling guest passes who may not go to school here anymore or are potentially looking at purchasing a membership and just want to try it out,” Sanders said.
The basketball courts are the area of choice for T. J. Campbell, a sophomore majoring in communications. “I play basketball here 2-3 times a week, probably.” For him, playing basketball with his friends is more about having. Though it’s still beneficial exercise, his physical fitness isn’t the main focus of his routine. “It’s not the last thing I think about, if that makes sense.”
Students like Campbell don’t mind the typical crowds. Significantly increased numbers, though, can detract from the experience.
“I enjoy it if there’s people here… But sometimes it’s too crowded. So there’s gotta be a nice balance,” Campbell said.
Between the Aquatic Center, the Witt Center and the Rec, students can often avoid the worst of the crowding if they choose to. Sanders said the Aquatic center is a particularly popular choice due to its size.
“The students enjoy that area because it is a little bit smaller. Like [at the Witt Center], they say that, ‘If the Rec is too busy or too crowded, I can pick another facility to go to.’ They like having options.”
Alex Stevenson, a junior majoring in exercise science, frequents the Rec as part of her fitness routine. She prefers the use of cardio equipment four to five times per week to help maintain her health and achieve specific goals.
Even with her deligent use of the facility, there are features Stevenson hasn’t yet explored. “I’ve always wanted to try the spin class.”
Stevenson isn’t alone in her curiosity. The classes are extremely popular, with every pass being given out daily.
“At [the Rec], I would say Cycle and DAZE are our really big classes,” said Sanders. “If we could offer more cycle classes, people would be extremely happy, but unfortunately we only have the one room [at the Rec].”
Yoga is also a popular choice, though classes are lower in attendance than many of the others. This is partially due to the structure of the class and the requirement of equipment.
The Aquatic Center also offer Group Ex classes, both in the water and out of it. The center also features a weight room, unknown to many students. “I don’t think people realize there’s a weight room over there because they associate it only with water,” said Sanders.
Lesser-known resources exist even in the Rec and the Witt Center. The Witt center offers personal training options as well as a Pilates Reformer class with specialized equipment in addition to bodyweight exercises. The class does require payment, but the first 30-minute session is free of charge.
Another choice rising in popularity is a new class called Power Trip, a Group Ex class led by a personal trainer in the Witt Center’s personal training studio. “So, normally the only time you can go in there is during a personal training session. Well, during this class time, it’s open to general members,” Sanders said.
Each facility sees slight decline in use after Spring Break, as students’ focus shifts to exams and nicer weather coaxes runners and hikers outdoors again. While some may find it tempting to wait until the crowds wane to establish a routine at on-campus facilities,it isn’t necessary. The University’s centers are ready to accommodate all types of exercise and recreation every day.
Stevenson advises other students seeking a healthier lifestyle to not be intimidated by new goals. “I say go for them. They’re great to have, if you can. Stick to them and make them specific with a timeline and a date to finish at the end. Then they’re attainable.”