Creativity is essential in the campus recreation industry. Often times departments are dealing with limited resources when it comes to finances and space. This was the case at Pepperdine University. Space constraints effected the scope of programming provided to students.
“We don’t have a large recreation center, so our weight room is fairly limited in size,” said Doug Hurley, the director of recreation at Pepperdine University. “We had a number of users who were doing heavy lifting in areas that don’t have ample size for those types of exercises. It was causing overcrowding and we had some safety concerns.”
In order to alleviate overcrowding and provide students with the programming they desired, the department identified an outdoor space on campus that wasn’t being utilized to its full potential. They re-purposed that space into what is now called “The Cage” that is used for various functional training programs such as TRX and CrossFit.
“We decided to offer CrossFit because there is a gym in Malibu, but it is fairly pricey and we had people ask us if we could offer it,” said Hurley. “We know students don’t have a lot of money for expensive gym memberships, so we knew we could offer some of the basics of the program at a much lower cost. We don’t have all the equipment a typical CrossFit box has, but our instructors are creative. We did have to pay a licensing fee to use the official name, but we thought it was important to do that for integrity’s sake, as well as for the popularity of the program — so students would know it’s the same workout they would get elsewhere.”
The department runs two, 6-weeks CrossFit sessions each semester. According to Hurley, the program has been a hit with students. “They have been full. Not only do students participate, but some faculty and staff do as well,” he added. “This program is not included in our regular Campus Rec fee for group fitness, but we haven’t had any problems filling the classes, and it has contributed to our revenue.”
Expert Advice: When launching a CrossFit program, Hurley explained the atmosphere is essential. They invested in the necessary pieces of equipment — kettlebells, heavy dumbbells, pull up bars, ropes, barbells and jump ropes — and they also worked to create the perfect environment. “It helps that our space is sort of like a garage,” said Hurley. “I think the atmosphere contributes a lot to the type of workout. It’s sort of old school — black rubber floor, no mirrors, a chalk wall to write on. Writing things down is central to the program. People love to write their PR down or an encouraging message to others on the board.”