By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney students now have a state-of-the-art facility to run, bike, climb, lift weights, take fitness classes or complete their favorite workout.
The university’s new fitness center opened Aug. 1 and is part of the $6.5 million Wellness Center, a new 19,000-square-foot facility east of Cushing Coliseum.
“This is going to be a recruitment feature for new students to come to UNK, and it’s going to be a retention aspect for students at UNK,” said Scot Fransk, assistant director of campus recreation in the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences.
“There are many studies that indicate that when living a healthy lifestyle, your GPA is higher and you’re going to attain graduation sooner.”
In addition to the large fitness area, the center features program and research space.
The fitness center is twice the size of the previous workout space for students. The previous fitness area had 17 pieces of cardiovascular equipment. The new fitness center has 48 pieces of state-of-the-art cardio equipment.
Fransk said the old fitness center was often too full, and students had to wait to use equipment.
“If you came into the facility between 2 and 8 p.m., the biggest frustration was that students would come in, see how full it was and turn around and walk away,” Fransk said.
The new facility has 12 treadmills and 14 elliptical training machines. The previous fitness center had four treadmills and eight elliptical machines. New equipment includes arc trainers, climbing mills, step mills and rowing machines.
A major focus of the fitness center is also to be more inclusive for individuals who are in need of adaptive recreation, so the facility features equipment that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
“These are things we never had in the past, and for us to have the opportunity and the space to be able to do this is just fantastic,” Fransk said. “It allows us to meet the needs of the students. There’s more than enough equipment for students to be able to workout comfortably and on their schedule.”
The weight lifting area has two distinct spaces meant to meet the needs of individuals of all lifting abilities, Fransk added.
“We want people to feel comfortable in this environment so we intentionally split the area in half to allow the novice lifter a place to begin to feel comfortable,” he said. “A weight room can be intimidating to those who are not familiar with it. Our goal is to provide an area where newcomers can develop confidence and experience.”
In addition to new fitness equipment, the center features four flat-screen TVs in the weightlifting area and five flat-screen TVs in the cardio area. The cardio machines also have TV screens and iPad and iPhone connections.
One feature already popular with students is a 30-foot rock climbing wall. “There’s no other opportunity for students like this in this area,” Fransk said.
In the upcoming school year, there are 57 intramural events scheduled – three of those will be rock climbing wall activities.
“We’re looking for students to have the opportunity to do team building activities, to try something brand new, step out of their comfort zone, and see if climbing is something that they want to take part in,” Fransk said.
Away from the climbing wall, the old fitness area was renovated and is now a fitness studio. Classes such as Zumba, yoga and Spinning will take place in the fitness studio. Fitness classes previously took place in a gym, which didn’t have adequate audio quality for classes.
Students can take fitness classes for credit, but there are also non-credit options. Faculty and staff can also take fitness classes.
The fitness center also features a new locker area near the welcome desk that will allow students to store their belongings during workouts. The previous fitness center had shelves for storage.
“Sometimes it was just mounds of coats and backpacks, and you had to fish out your stuff,” Fransk said. “This will allow us to have an organized place for students to store their things.”
Near the welcome desk is a place for students to sit and socialize.
“When you come and workout, you are usually coming with a friend. It’s a social thing. It’s a time to catch up, get away from your thoughts and de-stress,” Fransk added.
Source: Scot Fransk, 308.865.8849, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com