Photos by Russell Cothren and John Baltz
University Recreation Celebrates Grand Opening of Fitness Center
Above, from left, Jeremy Battjes, director of University Recreation; Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions; Michael Dodd, president of the Associated Student Government; Kristin Durant, assistant director for fitness center operations; and Sam Schwaller, graduate assistant for facilities; prepare to cut the ribbon for the new UREC Fitness Center on April 19.
The University Recreation Fitness Center logged more than 10,000 visits in the seven weeks between its "quiet" launch and a grand opening on the University of Arkansas campus.
And that time period included spring break when most students leave campus.
View a slideshow from the event
Students, faculty and staff celebrated the grand opening of the new UREC fitness center April 19 with a ribbon-cutting, tours, demonstrations, refreshments and giveaways of items such as dumbbell-shaped stress-relief squeeze toys and small towels with the center's name on them.
"University Recreation benefits the entire university through its role in the recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff who demand up-to-date, effective and fun fitness equipment and programs," Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions, said to the crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting. "This only becomes more important as our campus enrollment grows."
University Recreation is a department within the College of Education and Health Professions directed by Jeremy Battjes. It offers eight program areas and includes facilities in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building in the south corner of campus. He said the department conducted a needs assessment in 2008 to see how it could better serve members and the university community.
"The results identified that there was a strong desire for additional cardio equipment and weight machines, extra stretching space, as well as a room solely dedicated to group exercise," Battjes said.
The remodeling of space in the Arkansas Union filled these needs with a satellite fitness center that encompasses 6,000 square feet of "modern fitness floor space equipped with the latest and greatest in cardio and weight machines, a 1,500-square-foot group exercise studio, and men and women’s locker and shower facilities," he said.
Smith and Battjes both thanked the university administrators who supported the project and the UREC staff who saw it through and now work to maintain the center and the services it offers.
Watch a video as construction progressed