By MACKENZIE HARD
On August 22, UMW Campus Recreation announced that the fitness center would be opening an hour earlier than previous years. The fitness center is now open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fridays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kelly Shannon, director of Campus Recreation, said this decision was made with students’ needs in mind. “When I first started here, we were open until 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. We heard that staying opening later would serve the students better, so we figured out ways, resource-wise, to make that happen within our department,” said Shannon.
During this time, Campus Recreation polled faculty and staff to get a better understanding of why they were not using the fitness center as frequently as they could be, especially since their memberships came at no charge. “One of the biggest things that [faculty and staff] mentioned was that the fitness center was not open early enough,” said Shannon. The results of the poll led to a proposition to have faculty and staff pay an added fee in order to open the gym earlier. Campus Recreation ultimately decided against this idea.
This past year, the President’s Council on Wellness created a report that identified challenges associated with campus health and proposed solutions. One such challenge was that the fitness center was not opening early enough. “We had a hard time dedicating some of our allocated budget that we receive since some of it is student fees, but we didn’t want to meet a faculty/staff request with student fees. And so President Paino gave us money for the additional hour to open early Monday through Friday,” explained Shannon. “[President Paino] specifically is really excited about it because he has always wanted to use the fitness center pre-7 a.m.”
The fitness center implemented these earlier hours beginning August 23. Every day since Shannon says the fitness center staff has seen individuals waiting and ready to come in before 6 a.m.
“The even more interesting point is that most of them [waiting] are students, faculty and staff are only a small handful of that group,” said Shannon. A $10 group fitness class fee was introduced for students at the start of this past school year.
While the total number of participants attending classes did not increase, the average number of classes that each person went to did rise. “Those who did buy into it and paid the fee came to more classes because they were more invested due to the fee,” said Brittanie Naff, the Assistant Director for Fitness and Wellness. The decision to create the fee for students prompted a lengthy conversation to figure out how the fitness center should utilize the new revenue, especially in consideration of the services Campus Recreation provides beyond the fitness center.
“When I started here three and a half years ago, we didn’t oversee aquatics, we didn’t have an outdoor rec program, and we didn’t have personal training. And so in order to grow and provide the number of offerings, we had to really get creative about how we were going to make use of our allocated resources, but also be able to use some of our revenues to support all of our different areas,” said Shannon.
Much of the revenue that Campus Recreation has been able to bring in has been used to expand programming and grow the department. Following the announcement of the earlier hours, Campus Recreation posted the schedule of Fitness Classes for this semester on their Instagram page. While many people were excited to learn about what classes were going to be offered, others were concerned about the limited offerings of classes.
Senior psychology major Christina Amaral said, “I think there is very little variety compared to last semester and because there are so few I won’t be able to make it to a ton of the classes so I don’t know if it’s even worth purchasing a $10 pass. Especially because I’m graduating in December so even if they add more next semester, that won’t help me.” Several classes from years prior were removed from the schedule including Pound, Pitayo, Pilates, and Core and More.
Naff explained that the fitness class teachers are categorized as either community or student instructors. Community instructors are individuals who are part of the Fredericksburg community, who are not students and are hired through the Human Resources department. Student instructors are current students and have gone through instructor training.
Last school year, eight student instructors, many of whom taught more than one class, graduated, leading to the loss of about 14 group fitness course offerings.
“The goal is to replenish anyone who graduates. So we have a class that we offer for free called the Group Fitness Instructor Prep Course. And it is meant for students at UMW who are interested in becoming instructors,” said Naff. Throughout this course, interested students will come in and spend most of the semester learning everything they need to know about being a student instructor.
Many of the group fitness classes that were previously offered are no longer on the schedule because they were taught by community instructors who had to back out of the classes due to personal reasons. “It felt like everything came falling down the two weeks before school started. So while not having replenished a lot of our instructors who graduated and then losing some of our community instructors, our offerings became limited,” said Naff. “I am proud of what we do have offered.”
“Now we have this great opportunity to focus on the quality of the courses over the quantity,” said Shannon. “We can really pay closer attention to each of our instructors, and we can give the feedback that they need to become better, and encourage those who aren’t certified to get certified.”