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Archive for Friday, May 28, 2004

Rec center serves as hub for students

May 28, 2004

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Lisa Turner loves to run outside, but not in snow and certainly not on ice.

"The winter just doesn't cooperate with runners," said Turner, 22. "That's why I love the Rec Center so much."

Turner, a senior business and accounting major at Kansas University, said the school's Student Recreation Fitness Center was long overdue.

"(Robinson Gym) was OK, but this place is top-notch," she said. "I find myself using it for many things besides running. The classes, for example, are great."

Mary Chappell, KU's director of recreation services, said she had heard similar comments from students since the center opened in September 2003.

"We're pleased with the student response," Chappell said. "The Rec Center has really become integrated into campus life."

The 100,000-square-foot building at 1740 Watkins Center Drive cost $17 million and was backed by student fees. Admission is free for enrolled students with their student ID.

"Students made this place possible," Chappell said. "We want them to use it."

Chappell said, as of February, the center was averaging about 4,000 users per day.

What you'll find

The multilevel recreation center features a bevy of fitness center staples, plus an original touch or two:

JOSH WICOFF, a Kansas University sophomore from Lenexa, climbs the
rock wall in the Student Recreation Fitness Center. The center
opened in September 2003.

JOSH WICOFF, a Kansas University sophomore from Lenexa, climbs the rock wall in the Student Recreation Fitness Center. The center opened in September 2003.

  • A suspended, indoor track with three lanes. The track's G-Flex surface was designed to ease pressure on runners' joints. After seven laps around, you'll have conquered a mile.
  • A 42-foot-tall rock climbing wall, a feature Chappell said is a hot trend in new college fitness facilities. A 10-foot "bouldering wall" is also available for practice, and -- hang on -- a special arch allows daring climbers to dangle upside down.
  • Four gymnasiums with remote-controlled scoreboards and built-in seating. Each gym is big enough for a regulation high school basketball court, and volleyball standards and equipment are stored in the ceilings to expedite transitions from one sport to the next.
  • Rooms reserved for martial arts and aerobics.
  • Personal trainers available to work with students.
  • More than a dozen KU FIT classes, including yoga, cardio funk, kick-'n-tone and pilates.
  • Two racquetball courts with a movable glass wall between them to allow for an occasional game of squash.








  • Fall6 a.m.-midnight Monday through Friday.10 a..m.-10 p.m. Saturday.10 a.m.-midnight Sunday.Summer6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.noon-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • A two-level, 15,000-square-foot fitness area with cardio equipment, free weights and resistance machines.
  • An outdoor pursuits area, where students can rent canoes, backpacks, tents and other equipment for use away from the center.
  • Outdoor basketball and volleyball courts for students who prefer to play in open air.
  • Fast Break, a concessions area that serves bagels, fruit, juice, smoothies and other healthy snacks in partnership with the Kansas Union.

Chappell said the center was committed to progress and would update equipment and the facility whenever feasible.

"It doesn't take long for fitness equipment to become obsolete, so two to three years out, we'll likely be replacing a lot," she said.

Chappell said she also hoped the building would be able to add a 50-meter pool to its fitness arsenal.

Kansas University includes the main campus in Lawrence; the Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.; the Edwards campus in Overland Park; a clinical campus of the School of Medicine in Wichita; and educational and research throughout the state.


More than a place to sweat

Chappell said that although students intially flocked to the center to work-out, the building has now become something of a social hub.

"We find that students meet here to study or watch a KU basketball game on the big-screen TV in the front lounge," she said.

Julie Shapiro, a junior in business and pre-law from Overland Park, began working at the center in September and said she had noticed more students stopping by in groups.

"People definitely enjoy meeting here to hang out, work out and have fun together," she said. "And some people feel more comfortable exercising in groups -- they don't feel as visible that way, I think."

The Student Recreation Fitness Center is open 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to midnight on Sunday during the fall and spring semesters. Hours this summer are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

"We cater to early birds and night owls equally, I think," Chappell said. "The recreation center is about availability and meeting the needs of busy students."

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