A new facility to help prioritize students’ overall well-being has officially opened its doors on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). The University Recreation & Wellness Center is in South Village, and students are already taking advantage of what it has to offer.
“It is such a big facility compared to the other one, and it’s great to have something like this on campus that can be a social hub. It’s not only a recreation center but a place people can come to hang out and feel welcomed,” said sophomore Melissa Mowery.
Within the first 10 days since opening in late January, 13,500 people came through its doors. Of those, 3,700 people have been dubbed “distinct users,” meaning they came back two to four times during the same period. With the Recreation Center’s location, they are seeing more freshmen and sophomores working out.
“The fact that students are coming here and choosing to be active in between their classes speaks highly of what a facility like this can do because it really does change the culture,” said Amy Swingle, director of Campus Recreation at FGCU.
The nearly 50,000-square-foot building offers a wide range of amenities. Indoor basketball courts, a strength and conditioning room and two studios for fitness classes are located on the first floor. The cardio deck on the second floor has proven to be a student favorite, with machines looking over a million-dollar view of the campus wetlands.
“You can balance staying healthy and staying motivated. Having a facility that is so welcoming is a great part of it. Everyone here is so happy,” said Mowery.
Roughly 200 students work for the Campus Recreation department with roles varying from fitness instructors to front-desk staff. The team hopes this facility becomes more than a place to work out, but a neutral space for students to meet and mingle as well.
Besides getting students into good physical shape, a goal of the Recreation & Wellness Center is to have an impact on mental health and its relation to student success. The motto “look good, feel good, do good” speaks to FGCU sophomore Brooke Antonio, who has been to the new center several times.
“Exercise makes you feel good,” said Antonio, “I love it here. I feel like there is so much space.”
The $18 million building was funded by the university’s capital improvement fund, which includes student activity fees. Other sources include donations and a loan from the FGCU Financing Corporation. Students can use the facility for free, and memberships for faculty and staff are now on sale.
“We are hoping this building will be the start of a culture change here on campus,” Swingle added.
Phase two of the Recreation and Wellness Center is already in the works. Even though there is not a final plan or timeline on this project yet, Swingle envisions an indoor track, basketball courts, more studio space and a climbing wall to be included in the next phase.
“A big part of positive mental well-being is being active and connecting to people. We see this as a major hub for that.”
Learn more about the Recreation & Wellness Center.