Campus RECommendations Part 2


Recommendations for running a top-notch recreation facility.

Since its grand opening in 2010, the Drexel University Recreation Center, has garnered recognition on both local and national stages. In 2014, the Rec Center was ranked as one of the country’s most impressive college gyms and student recreation centers by University Primetime. Also in 2014, listed the Rec Center among their compilation of best in class facilities. More recently, the Rec Center notched #14 of 35 university recreation centers via, ranking highest among private schools and joining the hallowed company of state funded juggernauts, UCLA and University of Texas at Austin.

And since it opened its doors to the community, one of a handful of collegiate recreation centers to do so, the Rec Center has virtually monopolized every local awards list across the board, having consistently beaten niche studios and commercial clubs, large and small.

The success of the programs transpiring within the 84,000 square foot shimmering expanse is supported by the collective strength and shared vision of its leadership team. The team, headed by Bryan Ford, Director of Recreation, comprises the vital cogs, which keep the roaring engine of the Rec Center running on all cylinders.

“I’m very proud what we have accomplished in recent years and look to build upon those successes,” says Ford.

So whether you’re taking charge of a program or an entire department, or wish to reinvigorate your role, the Rec Center’s staff of seasoned professionals offer a few recommendations.

Engaging the Community

The Rec Center has also woven itself into the fabric of the surrounding community, including a nearby health systems and the encircling business district. These efforts were largely made possible through tactful and strategic partnerships resulting in greater visibility and opportunities to give back.

Each winter, the Rec Center hosts an indoor triathlon in which participants utilize its pool, spinning cycles, and treadmills while competing for a great cause. All proceeds are donated to area pediatric hospitals to help fund research initiatives.

“Our resources enable us to offer unique events like the Indoor Triathlon which has raised thousands of dollars for programs at area children’s medical centers,” said Andrew Case, manager of memberships and programs.

Student Staff Training

“Employee training is one of, if not the, most crucial component to a business’s success,” said Morgan Kilroy, the coordinator of member services. “A company’s personnel is a company’s most significant asset. A business cannot operate, cannot reach its fullest potential, without the assistance, dedication, and support of their employees. Your best trained employees are going to remain with your company for the long haul; they’re going to be the most engaged in the daily operations; cognizant and reliable; and most importantly, happy.”

Tips for training:

  • Keep it light and as fun as you can make it
  • Create aids—informative and helpful resources for the employees to refer to
  • Involve them in tasks requiring greater responsibility and ownership

And finally…Fitness

“The decision to offer new recreational fitness programming is comprised of a checklist of convergent factors: demand, logistics, and sustainability,” said Joe Giandonato, the manager of health promotion.

“Are programs faddish, fly-by-night or are they tried and true methodologies which are capable of engendering continued participation and cultivating continuous improvements? Are the facilities compatible to accommodating programming and what equipment and staffing is necessary? Is the proposed program viable and capable of generating recurring return on investment, such as continued enrollment or increases in revenue?” remarked Giandonato, who also oversees multiple employee wellness initiatives.

“Feasibility studies, drawing from a thorough multipronged evaluation, consisting of surveys, subjectivist interviewing, and stakeholder meetings are requisite to the creation of any programming. Any and all variables must be vetted before launching new programming.”

Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS presently serves as a fitness specialist at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he assists with the oversight of recreational and college-wide wellness programming. Giandonato also serves as a part-time faculty member at Eastern University and Chestnut Hill College, where he teaches Exercise Science electives. Previously, Giandonato served as the manager of Health Promotion and Wellness at Drexel University where he initiated and implemented the award winning A HEALTHIER U campus wellness initiative. Additionally, Giandonato serves as an instructor for the World Instructor Training Schools, through which he’s helped certify hundreds of personal trainers since 2010.

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