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Renovation Increases Usage

The renovated fitness center at an all-male college increased usage and improved the health of the students and faculty/staff.

Most fitness centers will never face the type of challenge that Tiger Recreation - Fitness & Sports (TigeRec) did several years back. Students at the 230-year-old college wanted a change: They wanted an updated fitness facility. Says Director of Tiger Recreation Steven W. Harrell, "The fitness center was a project that began in 2002 when graduating students said that having a true fitness facility would have made their college experience more fulfilling." TigeRec is located at one of the two remaining all-male liberal arts colleges in the U.S., Hampden-Sydney College, which is one hour southwest of Richmond, Va. The college does not offer a curriculum in health, fitness, wellness or sports, so TigeRec provides just that, says Harrell. The renovation project was pushed through, and the new center was placed in the

TigeRec Fitness Center

Hampden-Sydney College Hampden-Sydney, Va. www.hsc.edu/fitness Date fitness facility opened: March 2004 Fitness facility size: 10,217 square feet (first floor and group exercise room); 8,250-square-foot aquatics area Number of members: 1,100 students, 500 faculty/staff, 1,000-plus spouse/ dependents, 125 community memberships Unique features/offerings: Body Tone and yoga group classes, seven 32-inch televisions with Broadcast Vision
old Kirby Fieldhouse. Says Harrell, "The $3 million, 10,000-square-foot renovation paved the way to a high-tech and modern facility that is nestled in a 230-year-old campus, and it still maintains the history of the college." Where there once was a locker room, storage, squash/racquetball courts, a few athletic offices and an athletic training room now stands a facility that has seen more than 100,000 visitors since March 2004. The three remaining racquetball courts received maple flooring and Plexi-Glass walls. Two locker rooms received a complete overhaul. An old racquetball court is now a multi-use and strength area. Above that a floor was created to include a group exercise room with wood flooring, wireless microphone and audio technology, and a storage room. The renovation was such as success that the equipment supplier now uses TigeRec as a showcase, "even after so much use," Harrell says. The existing 25-meter pool with six lanes and diving board remained untouched except for interior wall painting. However, with the fitness center's renovation, the pool has seen "a definitive increase in usage," says Harrell. It is used so extensively, hours of operation had to be increased. The college's swimming club has grown to more than 60 members since 2004. Technology in the fitness center also reflects the times. The campus computing center and TigeRec worked together to develop two interactive programs. First, an interactive access point tracks participation, attendance, locker rentals, membership access and message boards. The second program allows participants to track workouts, sign up for events, receive emails on workout progress, print out specific or generic workouts, request an appointment with a fitness specialist, view workout progress, and tally results on incentive programs like cardio challenges and races. To keep things running smoothly at TigeRec, one full-time director and 50 students are employed. However, since there are no sports or fitness classes in the curriculum at Hampden-Sydney College, TigeRec has had to search for a new way to gain personal trainers and employees. One way is its Student Employee Contract: If students want to become certified in personal training, TigeRec will pay for a percentage of the costs in exchange for one year of employment. Students at Hampden-Sydney College finally have a central location for fitness, aquatics, intramurals and informal recreation. The community also uses the fitness center, and TigeRec boasts a 90-percent retention rate with its community memberships, according to Harrell. Other good news: The HR department of the college reports that insurance premiums have declined since TigeRec Fitness Center opened. And, the dining hall recently adjusted its menu to offer more healthy cuisine. What's the biggest benefit of the new fitness center? Says Harrell, "More students, faculty, staff and their families are finding time to devote to themselves, and are now more in tune with healthy lifestyle habits."
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