Home and exhausted from a full day of classes, Alex Sheffield, senior psychology pre-med major from Irving, tightens the hot pink laces on her black Adidas running shoes, grabs her water and iPod and is out the door.
What awaits Sheffield besides her usual regimen of 40-minute cardio and 15-minute weights is fellow psychology major and fitness friend, Meagan Wilcox.
“We’re perfect workout partners because we are opposites in motivation,” Sheffield said. “She’s the motivator to get us out the door and into the gym, and I’m the motivator once we’re there.”
Like Sheffield, many students are taking to the 113,000 square-foot Royce and Pam Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The facility has sparked a campus-wide interest in complete wellness, rejuvenating the entire exercise and social community alike, say faculty and students at the new Rec Center.
As a “retired” softball player, Sheffield said she had lost touch with the fitness routine of her high school days. Lifting weights and other muscle-building workouts had taken a backseat once she enrolled in college, and Sheffield said she was forced to look for an outside gym.
“I never did get a gym membership because I thought it waste of money, especially being a poor college student,” Sheffield said.
But as “the Bank” unveiled last September, Sheffield said she was able to tap back in to her fitness regimen.
“It’s free and close,” Sheffield said. “We’re already paying top fees as a student so I feel like it’s a better use of my time and money.”
Brookelee Galle, sophomore Ad/PR major from Eula, said even as a Rec Center employee she uses the facility regularly.
“I did not work out at all last year, and now I work out at least twice a week,” Galle said. “Working out has become such a social thing.”
Stationed at the front desk, Galle said she sees more students than ever during the intramural season for indoor sports like waterball and volleyball.
“And there’s always people asking if they’re hiring,” Galle said. “They like working out here so they think it would be a fun place to work, too.”
As the newest and one of the largest facilities on campus, “the Bank” rivals the Campus Center as ACU’s socializing hotspot. According to assessment data, the Rec Center houses hundreds and even thousands of students, faculty and staff members daily.
Joel Swedlund, director of facility operations, examines the Rec Center’s weekly statistics to make sure the facility continues to appeal to all people and at every level of fitness.
“People work out for a lot of different reasons but the social aspect is one of the major reasons why college students do,” Swedlund said.
He said the Rec Center is busiest from 3-7 p.m., when most students are done with classes, and is most attended on Mondays and Tuesdays, when the “weekend guilt,” he said, begins to set in. So far, the most attended day at the Rec Center has brought in over 2,400 visitors.
“The health industry and media are making us more and more aware of the challenges we face as a nation when it comes to high obesity rates,” Swedlund said. “We don’t want our students and employees to be one of those statistics, and we are starting to do something about it.”
Dr. Kerri Hart, director of fitness and training programs, said that although the facility was a long time coming, she is pleased that the university was able to create a center for students, faculty and staff.
“Our goal was to have a complete wellness facility where different types of individuals would feel comfortable doing the things they like to do,” Hart said.
She said she loves to witness people using the facility in a multitude of ways.
“It’s so fun to see how the building transforms throughout the day,” Hart said. “You have the early morning enthusiasts at 5:30 a.m., by mid-morning, you’ve got the kinesiology and nutrition students, and by 3 p.m., there are people in every space.”
In addition to Technogym fitness equipment, visitors of the Rec Center can use a Wellness System Key, which can log users’ workouts and goals. To use the Wellness System Key, visitors complete an online questionnaire called an Aspiration Finder. The Aspiration Finder surveys an individual to find her desired workout emphasis on power, fun, sport, balance, move and shape. The Wellness System Key utilizes the results of the Aspiration Finder, along with a strength and cardio test, to compile a personalized fitness plan for each user.
“Knowing the technology wizards that our students are, I know they’ll think it’s cool,” Hart said.
Hart said the prescribed plan and tracking system within the key is perfect for those who need guidance but don’t want or can’t afford personal training.
Like many other workout companions, Sheffield and Wilcox repeat their Rec Center routine four to five times per week. But in addition to improving her physicality, the center is instrumental in strengthening her spiritual life, Sheffield said.
“As accountability partners, Meagan and I have that time at the gym to catch up on what happened that day,” Sheffield said. “If one of us says we’re struggling with something and need to talk, we’ll go walk the track. We take that time at the gym to work out but also to be uplifted and encouraged by one another.”
The theme verse for the Rec Center is Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Hart said she believes that in practicing physical fitness within a community, we can reach that goal of complete wellness.
“Picking up a weight for someone else – that’s service. Showing someone how to use a machine – that’s service,” Hart said. “It just embodies the whole idea of keeping your body in shape to allow you to serve other people. Those acts of service may not always be obvious, but they’re happening.”