The 128,000-square foot Student Recreation Center opened on October 28, 2013,
The 128,000-square foot Student Recreation Center opened on October 28, 2013,

The 128,000-square foot Student Recreation Center opened on October 28, 2013, much to the delight of students, who had been getting in their workouts at the SAC in not-so-state-of-the-art conditions.

“I’d describe it as dungeon-like,” said graduate student Bria Staten-Favors, about the previous facility. “It was old, it was dark. The equipment was old. It wasn’t inviting.”

Four years later, the SRC is thriving. Debby Woodall, fitness director in the Intramural & Recreational Sports Department, has witnessed the entire evolution, having worked in the department for 20 years. The new(ish) facility, located on the west side of the Belknap Campus, boasts multiple group fitness studios, six basketball courts, a gaming area, 14,000 square feet of strength training areas, a golf simulator and more.

It also offers about 30 different classes, from group fitness and cycling, to power yoga, restorative yoga and yoga with live music. It even offers belly dancing. When the department was housed at the SAC, there were about 12 classes a week. Yoga wasn’t even on the map.

“We couldn’t offer yoga because we didn’t have the right facility. We couldn’t offer cycling because we didn’t have the bikes,” Woodall said.

Now, those are among the most in-demand classes. Some yoga classes generate 35 students.

“Cycling and yoga have surprised me the most. We have been challenged with keeping up with demand and have had to turn people away. We had to order more bikes,” Woodall said. “Our (classes) numbers have gone up well over 100 percent.”

However, it is not just the classes that are drawing in the students; it’s the facility and location. Kylar Ware, a junior from Mount Washington, said that, though the SRC was intimidating at first because of its size, she loves going now.

The SRC features two floors and 14,000 square feet of strength training areas.
The SRC features two floors and 14,000 square feet of strength training areas.

“I think because it has two floors, it helped me get over the intimidation factor. I also love the windows because it gives me a feeling that I’m not missing out on my day by being inside of this building and being removed from everything,” she said. “I usually hate gyms, but the SRC is really nice and I’ve noticed a change in myself where I want to go now.”

Since she lives in the Pi Beta Phi house across the street, it’s also easier for her to go. Staten-Favors agrees that the SRC environment and location motivate her more.

“I don’t have to worry about going across campus to workout at night,” Staten-Favors added. “I also like that it’s two levels so I can work out in a more private place if I want.”

Woodall said this is the type of feedback she’s been getting from students across the board.

“We’ve done surveys and I can say going on our fourth year that I love where we are,” she said. “It’s a totally different program than what we used to have.”

The SRC will continue to “trial and error” new programs, such as lectures and classes. In the next year or two, some equipment will be replaced as wear and tear sets in. Woodall said they’re also working with new vendors to test new pieces of equipment, such as a Zero Runner, an Incline Trainer and a “soft-powered treadmill,” that uses less energy. Finding the right classes and equipment to resonate with students has been what Woodall calls a “fun challenge.”

“The fact that our students avoided the SAC bothered me. It’s a shame they didn’t feel like they had a place to go,” she said. “But I love that they have all of this now. It’s important we give them this positive outlet.”

Check out more photos from the SRC online.

 

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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.