A perfect fit: New campus recreation center opens
Students just got another reason to stay healthy and fit—and a large, centrally located one at that, complete with brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment and loads of natural light.
The three-floor Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, located a block south of the Main Library, made its debut in August, showing off its 52.5-foot climbing wall, competition pool with spectator seating for up to 2,000, high dive pool, two full-size basketball courts and multi-activity court, indoor track, leisure pool with a “lazy river” feature and a giant video board for movie screenings, expansive fitness area, and much more.
Paula Plathe, a junior from Granville, Iowa, majoring in social work, followed the construction of the $70-million, 215,000-square-foot building. She previously frequented the Field House once a week for its indoor track, rock-climbing wall, and pool, but says she intends to use the new facility even more often.
“It’s pretty impressive,” she says. “It’s important for everyone to get exercise and a lot of students are busy throughout the day, so it’s nice to have it close to the center of campus. I think it’s great that the University is providing it.”
Membership is part of a student’s mandatory student fees and includes access to all campus fitness areas, gyms, climbing walls, pools, racquetball and badminton courts, jogging tracks, and group exercise classes. Nonstudents may purchase monthly or annual memberships, or pay a daily walk-in fee.
Planning the construction project, says Recreational Services director Harry Ostander, was a long, thoughtful process that began a decade ago and involved visiting facilities across the country, conducting focus groups, and hiring a consulting firm.
“Student feedback was instrumental from the start,” Ostrander says. “They told us they wanted more fitness space, more basketball courts, and more group exercise. This is our first attempt to build a facility entirely with student fees that is primarily for the students. The location is fantastic—students are able to walk here from just about anywhere on campus.”
The Campus Recreation and Wellness Center may do more than boost students’ heart rates. Tom Rocklin, interim vice president for student services, says evidence suggests that students who use campus recreational facilities are more likely to have higher grade-point averages and stay in school.
“Our mission is student success, and student health is part of that,” he says. “It’s important to have recreational opportunities and also to develop teamwork and leadership opportunities in recreation. This new facility will offer fun, alcohol-free activities and help our students grow.”
Wayne Fett, senior associate director of Recreational Services and building project manager, adds that the new facility also will help with recruitment: “This puts The University of Iowa right at the top in terms of recreation offerings.”
The Field House remains open for scheduled activities such as intramurals, club sports, and lesson programs and still operates its basketball and racquetball courts; Fitness East in Halsey Hall is continuing its operation under reduced hours.
“Our society needs to have healthier and better fit employees, and the same is true for students,” says Ostrander. “With the lounge area and café and being open late on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, we expect this place to become a social hub for students, and I think it will be very beneficial to the entire campus.”