Hot, new programming can be a rec center draw for campuses looking to entice students to check out the facilities and become engaged once there. But only if done right. After all, students often crave fun and community with their exercise and well-designed, expertly-taught classes provide that.
The benefits go beyond good bodies and social activity. Looking at sports, rec center participation and group exercise, a 2016 North Carolina State University study of 20,0000 students found for every extra hour they exercised, their odds of graduating – or returning – increased by 50 percent. Additionally, students had higher grade point averages when they exercised more. For each hour per week, GPA went up .06 on the 4.0 scale.
However, programming options seem endless. With so many available, using an objective set of criteria to evaluate is key. Here are eight considerations:
- Given the student body’s preferences, define the time, type and intensity of the sessions to be offered.
- What is the financial goal? Is it to attract outside paying community members or add to campus quality of life, or both? These goals can be achieved in unison. This forms the foundation of the “why” behind the space. A clear sense of budget manages expectations on all sides and ensures transparency throughout the process.
- After budget is decided, think about the size of the space available to determine the potential attendance to the activities that can be serviced.
- DIY or buy? Decide whether programming will be originally developed by staff or purchased from a well-known and engaging brand. “Programming in a box” can be preferable because it’s scientifically sound, vetted and has often already created a buzz – so it’s tapping into an existing trend. Plus, consistent execution isn’t as impacted by staff turnover.
- All-inclusive. Make sure the space is multi-use for maximum versatility. The right design and layout will ensure this area is the heart and soul of the facility.
- Understand industry trends to know the offerings being evaluated are current and therefore attractive and engaging to students.
- Deliver a FAB experience! Student members especially need to have Fun, a feeling of Achievement and a sense of Belonging.
- Once the above questions are answered, program structure and schedule should be set based on monthly goals, seasonality and trends so students will come back on a regular basis – giving serious consideration to results-based, goal-orientated scheduling rather than a class specific title.
When it comes to campus rec centers, helping students get results is important but so is instilling a lifelong appreciation for fitness and providing a sense of belonging to this important element of campus life. Results are only achieved when students walk through the doors.
By Rachel Young. Rachel is head of education and training for Escape Fitness, a leading global equipment manufacturer offering innovative equipment and storage solutions, gym design, flooring, training and MOVE-IT, HIIT THE DECK and BATTLE FIT programming in a box. For more information, visit escapefitness.com/us/, call 614.706.4462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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