By Kyle O’Malley and Chantell Cosner, Administrative Services
PULLMAN, Wash. – As students return from break determined to exercise away extra holiday pounds, the Student Recreation Center celebrated its 10 millionth users this week at Washington State University.
“As we approach our 15-year anniversary, we have realized it is one thing to stand the test of time, but it is another to still see our usage increase from year to year since the SRC opened,” said Jeff Elbracht, director of facilities.
Since 2001, the SRC has grown from 530,000 users annually to 750,000 in 2014-15. Daily usage can exceed 4,700. About 80 percent of the student body uses the facility each semester.
Recreation spreads across campus
The increased popularity has led to a long-term vision for recreation at WSU.
The Down Under Recreation Center opened in the fall in the Stephenson Complex – a convenient location for students living on the south side of campus. The space includes dedicated weight and cardio space and rooms for fitness classes.
The center of campus will have more space for student recreation, as well, when the old Bookie building opens as the Chinook Student Center in spring 2017. It will house a recreation and fitness center along with other student amenities.
Providing space and variety
When Joanne Greene arrived as a graduate student in 1999, WSU’s gym facility was a 4,800-square-foot space in a building next to Hollingbery fieldhouse.
“Students would wait for half an hour to get into that little gym,” said Greene, a director of programming for WSU University Recreation. “There were maybe 10 pieces of cardio equipment and some weights, but it was really small.”
Today the SRC offers 20,000-square-feet of cardio and weights space in a 160,000-square-foot facility. Other amenities include a five-lane lap pool, spa, elevated track, basketball courts, climbing wall and multipurpose classrooms.
Students and professional staff host a wide range of fitness classes in an attempt to serve more students.
“Recreation centers can be very intimidating places for some users,” Elbracht said. “Our staff engages with as many users as possible to bring them together and change the way that they are experiencing recreation.
“The equipment in this building will inevitably change,” he said, “but the welcoming and positive environment we have created here will last.”
Activity benefits academics
The benefits of being active extend into the classroom too.
“There are numerous research studies to support that being physically active improves cognitive abilities and enhances one’s ability to concentrate,” Greene said. “Ever since the SRC opened, we’ve run evaluations between GPA and SRC attendance, and there has been a consistent positive correlation between the two.”
She said many students see the SRC as their “happy place” where they can de-stress, try new things and learn more about themselves.
“I feel the SRC has improved the social wellbeing of our campus as a whole,” she said.
Learn more about the SRC and University Recreation at http://urec.wsu.edu.