Size: 19,000 square feet
Features: Research space, fitness center, Physical Activity and Wellness Lab, renovated classrooms
Cost: $6.5 million
Construction Start: April 2013
Completion Date: May 2014
By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – With a new fitness center, more research space and renovated classrooms, Nita Unruh says the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Wellness Center is worth the wait.
“We’re just excited. It’s been a long process. It’s happening and it’s exciting to watch it go up every day. We can’t wait to get the students in there,” said Unruh, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Sciences.
The Wellness Center is a new 19,000-square-foot facility under construction east of Cushing Coliseum. The center includes program and research space for UNK’s nationally-known exercise science education and research program, in addition to a large fitness center for students.
The state-of-the-art facility adds nearly 10,000 more square feet for exercise machines, weights, exercise and fitness classes, and group activities.
Aerobic and weight equipment will be in separate areas, and a new fitness studio will feature fitness classes such as Zumba and yoga. Fitness classes are currently taught in the HPER Gym, which is also the space used for intramural activities.
A rock climbing wall will be prominently featured in the front window of the building.
In addition to facilities for student fitness activities, the Wellness Center will include programming for UNK employee health and wellness, community outreach, and public health research at UNK’s Physical Activity and Wellness Lab.
“The Physical Activity and Wellness Lab is going to be a more friendly and inviting place for the projects we do with the community dealing with obesity, nutrition and wellness,” Unruh said.
The lab will have its own entrance, a separate workout space and demonstration kitchen.
The Physical Activity and Wellness Lab, currently called the Human Performance Lab, conducts research and promotes physical activity in greater Nebraska through school- and community-based programs in health promotion and obesity prevention and treatment.
Recent programs include Building Healthy Families, Healthy Families School, Nebraska BMI Screening and Reporting System, Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day, and UNKids, a study with the American Heart Association that is following 180 children annually.
“From a community perspective, the Physical Activity and Wellness Lab is an important feature. It will allow the lab to do more,” said UNK Director of Facilities Lee McQueen, who oversees construction of the $6.5 million Wellness Center.
The project will also include the renovation of about 4,000 square feet of student recreation and classroom space inside Cushing Coliseum.
Beyond the campus community, the Wellness Center will augment a variety of programs supported by community partners, including Good Samaritan Hospital and Buffalo County Community Partners, through community promotions such as Activate Buffalo County, PATH (Kearney Public Schools) and Walk Out on Your Job.
The project is partially funded by donations through the University of Nebraska Foundation, and student fees authorized by a student vote in 2005.
Ground was broken on the project in April, and the facility is expected to open in May 2014.
Currently, workers are framing the exterior walls and preparing to enclose the addition to prepare for winter work, McQueen said. During the winter, the interior will be developed.
“The Wellness Center is going to be a destination on campus,” Unruh said. “It will also serve as a marketing tool to bring students to campus.”
Source: Nita Unruh, 308.865.8335, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com