College and university recreation centers are not unlike many commercial fitness and wellness facilities, despite the fact they are often considered to be nonprofit entities similar to the Y.M.C.A., J.C.C., and most Parks and Recreation Districts which are all beginning to use more effective wellness messaging.
The reason is quite simple; people are generally buying into “Wellness” and the “Exercise is Medicine” objectives set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine, Medical Fitness Association and others like the renowned Cooper Institute, which is often credited with taking the first significant steps away from a costly “disease treatment” oriented medical model to a more preventative healthcare approach based on positive lifestyle behavioral changes for improved health outcomes. This positive development and subsequent success experience has resulted in the accelerated growth and popularity of wellness programs over the past several years.
Now colleges and universities are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this growing trend for several reasons. First they are institutions of higher learning committed to supporting the safety, health and wellbeing of their students, faculty and local communities. Secondly, Wellness requires an educational emphasis along with valid measurement tools to establish the effectiveness and impact of a variety of healthy behaviors and activities which is a primary goal of colleges and universities in the first place. Thirdly, many of the more significant initiatives to improve public health have been the result of serious research studies conducted with students, faculty and, in many cases, the general public. Well informed individuals will agree that education, evaluation and the resulting motivation, which a wellness program can provide, should be a major cornerstone of any education and will contribute greatly to a more meaningful campus life experience.
Health and physical education, kinesiology, sports science, personal training certification courses, to name just a few, are becoming some of the more popular areas of study with many students today enrolling in some sort of “healthy living” class within their first or second years in order to fulfill one of their general education requirements. These programs can also provide well trained, very enthusiastic students who are eager to join your recreation staff, as interns, to help you achieve your wellness vision.
In summary, here are four wellness messaging benefits to consider for your overall operational success:
- Wellness messaging will attract and retain more patrons because most of us want to live healthy and more productive lives.
- Wellness messaging has a much broader appeal than the “hard body fitness” approach because almost everyone can relate to Wellness and feel more included as a result.
- Wellness messaging opens up more “fee for service” opportunities for: A) personal training sessions B) fitness and wellness assessments C) weight management programs D) massage appointments and E) mind-body workshops, etc.
- Wellness messaging can result in additional funding/grants when the proper tools of evaluation are used to establish a history of programming success determined by solid evidenced based outcomes when properly reviewed.
By Rob Rideout is vice president/cofounder of MicroFit, Inc. He can be reached at Rob@MicroFit.comor visit microfit.com