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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Rec center celebrates 25th anniversary

Alex McIntyre

Garrett Smith, a UA alumnus, does lunges while carrying a barbell in the UA Campus Recreation Center on Friday, July 17. Entrance to the center is free to students enrolled in classes at the university.

The Student Recreation Center was built to serve the UA community 25 years ago, back when treadmills didn’t have TV screens and when Zumba was not a popular dance fitness class.

In the 1970s, students lobbied the UA for a facility dedicated to student recreation and wellness, and the Arizona Board of Regents approved legislation for its building in 1985. The facility opened in the 1990-1991 academic year with a student-approved $25-per-semester fee to cover the costs.

According to Campus Recreation’s website, the Rec Center receives more than a million visits per year, on top of offering numerous classes for students. 

According to a Forbes article, the Rec Center has received national acclaim over the years, with many articles mentioning the university’s top rank among rec centers across the country. 

The UA has been No. 1 in part due to the building’s energy efficient design and construction. In 2010, the building saw a significant renovation and update, leading to it becoming the first of three LEED Platinum Certified buildings on campus.

“Instead of a big event for our celebration, we have set up mini events during the 25th of every month,” said Heather Kleeman, outreach coordinator for sponsors and special events for Campus Recreation. 

The celebrations kicked off last Monday with Meet Me at the Rec, an event where students could learn about all the ways to get involved with Campus Recreation, such as intramural teams and group fitness classes.

Various colleges have added campus recreation centers over the past few decades in order to attract students. 

Lynn Zwaagstra, director of Campus Recreation, said in an email interview that research has indicated that students consider campus recreation when deciding which college to attend, and that participating in recreation programs correlates with higher GPAs and retention rates.

“Campus Recreation departments offering comprehensive facilities and holistic health and wellness opportunities are more attractive to today’s savvy college students,” Zwaagstra said.

The original Rec Center had basketball courts, racquetball courts, weight rooms and dance and aerobics rooms on two levels. The building also housed a juice bar and a swimming pool.

The Rec Center’s current focus is on renovating the original locker rooms to make them inclusive for a diverse student population, expanding on-campus and online programming and providing advanced learning opportunities for the promotion of the healthy mind, body and spirit for all students. 

A lot has happened over the last 25 years, and Campus Recreation is leading the way toward the university’s goal of 100% Student Engagement.

Follow Selena Flores on Twitter.

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