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Opinion

Students, staff hopeful for a much needed fitness, recreation center

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September 17, 2010

As the academic year has finally started becoming routine, I’ve noticed that our student body has grown increasingly, shall we say, out of shape? Maybe it’s just the summer bump that was added on over a diet of beer on the boat and too many foot-long hotdogs consumed at the new Twins stadium.

However, I realize that college students are just as inclined to drink beer whether they have classes or not, and as for the food, I think we all can contest to not really knowing what’s served in the dreaded cafeteria. I know that might sound harsh, but with all the new workout gigs popping up everywhere in town (such as Anytime Fitness), I was having a hard time understanding why students in River Falls don’t take time to work out.

I found the answer to my question the day I decided to actually hit the gym. It’s not because our students are lazy, un-motivated or just can’t find time. It’s because we do not have an adequate work out/ recreational center that non-collegiate athletes feel comfortable in. My experience of attempting to work out went as follows: 5:45 p.m.: arrived at Emogene Nelson building, went to the changing room where I felt a pair of eyes staring at me while I was trying to put my athletic shorts on. 5:50: attempted to find a treadmill to do a warm up run, but failed because they were all taken and resorted to running around the block. 6:13: finally, fought off what seemed like a pack of wolves, for a spot on a pad so I could work my abdominals. 6:30: went to a leg press machine, but couldn’t hear myself think because of a group of sweaty men picking up weighted bars and dropping them on the wood floor, over and, over again. 6:35: decided that working out at Emogene Nelson building was not the place for me.

After this experience, I talked with Director of River Falls Athletic Performance, Carmen Pata. Pata informed me that, unlike most schools, UW-River Falls does not add a recreational fee into the tuition. I am assuming this is the reason why our current weight room/recreational center is very small and has minimal equipment. If the University would include the fee for our recreational center it would average out to roughly ten dollars a month. Pata also told me that he thinks the lack of a higher quality work out environment turns prospective freshman away from the school. “I’m sure we do lose people,” Pata said. “However, there is talk of a new recreational center.” According to Pata, the master planning committee from Madison has been very interested in building a new and improved workout area. “Of course we don’t know details like size, cost and time,” said Pata.

It’s clear that most students and staff are not only in favor of this idea, but could benefit greatly from it.

Sarah Hellier is a student at UW-River Falls.