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Campus pumped up over new fitness center

The room fills up with violent grunts, labored breathing and friendly chatter.

The room is the workout area of the new fitness and recreation center at Florida Atlantic University. Whether students and faculty members use the gym to work out or just socialize, the newly built center on campus is receiving high reviews.

“It’s very inspiring,” psychology major Anna Lisa Curtis said.

In fact, the gym seems to be inspiring many people at FAU. According to Eric Hawkes, recreation director, the 6,600-square-foot gym attracts between 800 and 1,900 members a day – and about 1,300 on a regular basis.

“We’re happy with the numbers” Hawkes said.

The gym might become a victim of its own success, though.

“It’s so popular I don’t know how faculty and staff will get in there,” said Curtis, a regular there.

The gym opened Jan. 5 with limited fanfare, although 1,000 people showed up.

“There was very little press and most of the popularity seemed to grow from word of mouth between the students,” Hawkes said.

The popularity can, in part, be attributed to 40 new cardiovascular machines, fun programs and convenience.

“The gym has awesome machines, offers a lot of classes, and it won’t interfere with my course schedule because it’s so close and you can go in and out” said Julie Romero, an FAU and also a regular.

The treadmill and elliptical area can easily be confused with a movie theater or personal living room. Each machine is equipped with its own television and faces a wall decorated with flat-screen TVs that show anything from basketball games to soap operas.

According to the gym’s class schedule, 19 types of classes are offered weekly, ranging from "Zumba" to "Hip-Hop Cardio."

University officials hope that the gym will help lure South Florida high school graduates to stay home rather than go to college out of town, and they know that a quality gym is a selling point for students from other areas.

“We plan to use it as a recruitment tool,” Hawkes said.

The university also wants to use the gym to create a full-service atmosphere on campus. FAU, largely a commuter school, has been criticized for a lack of tradition and pride.

“FAU isn’t really like UF, FSU, or UCF. There isn’t any tradition like those schools have,” said Stacy Dorado, an FAU student who transferred from Florida State University in Tallahassee.

In a recent news release, Charles Brown, the vice president for student affairs said, “This remarkable facility will enhance the sense of tradition, pride, and student life at Florida Atlantic University.”

Student Government President Abe Cohen agreed.

“It provides a social outlet on campus, as well as an option for a healthier lifestyle. It also puts FAU one step closer to becoming a more traditional university,” he said in a statement.

The recreation and fitness center also has a full-size basketball and volleyball court. There are locker rooms with showers for men and women.

The fitness center already plans to expand. Phase two of the project will include a leisure and lap pool, a student and member lounge area, more locker rooms and a food service area that offers healthy snacks and drinks. Once phase two is built, the center will total 77,000 square feet.

The center hopes to maintain member satisfaction by offering an orientation session for first-time users. The orientation will be geared toward helping students and faculty become accustomed to the facility.

“We show members the different machines and areas of the gym and how to use them,” Hawkes said.

The center also plans to offer a personal training program, he said. This will give students that aspire to become trainers the opportunity to become nationally certified and be employed by the university. Members, in turn, will be able to work with knowledgeable trainers for set fees.

The fitness center is situated at the northern end of the campus, near the business and biomedical sciences buildings. It's only about a five-minute walk from the main quadrangle.

“We were very strategic in taking advantage of the space and this is probably the most efficient building on campus,” Hawkes said.




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