In an effort to engage faculty and staff in recreational services, Kent State University Recreation and Wellness launched Free Friday’s in the spring of 2015. Each Friday, both part-time and full-time faculty and staff can come into the Recreation and Wellness Center (SWRC) to workout or even take group exercises classes without a fee.
“We wanted to provide a way for faculty and staff to come in and get a taste of what we do at the SWRC,” said Ben Cope, the fitness coordinator at Kent State University.
Cope explained, faculty and staff can purchase memberships to the SWRC for a reasonable rate, but this is a way to showcase all that is offered at the SWRC. “It can be a challenge to market the membership to them and get them to understand what we offer,” he added. “So we thought doing the Free Friday initiative would be a good time for them to get in there, experience it, see it and then maybe start wanting to come in consistently.”
Apparently the initiative has been a success, with the group exercises classes offered on Friday filling up consistently. Part of the success is due to the partnership that the recreation and wellness department formed with Human Resources.
“We have a really great relationship with Human Resources here and there is a big push to get faculty and staff involved in healthy lifestyles so they were in this with us as far as establishing it,” said Cope.
However, in an effort to get the entire campus community more involved in recreation, they decided to offer a few other free group exercise classes throughout the week — not just on Fridays. Since students have pay for group classes beyond the rec center fee which is included in their tuition, this is a perfect way to introduce students to these classes.
“We offer three other free classes during the week,” explained Cope. “We offer two yoga classes and then a total body toning class. So we offer a few other things throughout the week just to give everyone experience within the rec center.”
Cope suggests getting creative with programming. What are the various classes you can offer for free? Try to offer a little something for everyone, like a low-intensity yoga class along with a more high-intensity cycling class.
And of course, don’t forget about partnerships across campus. “Establishing relationships with other people on campus is really important,” added Cope. “Human Resources was where we really struck a chord in terms of reaching out to faculty and staff. Get tied in with other people on campus that can help out.”