Home Sweet Home at Florida Gulf Coast University

florida gulf coast university

Photo courtesy of James Greco.

Previously sharing a 9,000-square-foot fitness center with Athletics, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Campus Recreation now has its own home in the new University Recreation and Wellness Center.

Suzanne Ries, the associate director of Facility Operations at FGCU, described the drive behind the build was to provide a recreation facility to meet the recreational and wellness needs of students. “It was for us to have a space to call our own,” she said.

In the first 30 days of operation, the new facility hosted over 33,000 users, in comparison to roughly 49,000 users in the old shared facility during an entire fall semester. “Of those 33,000, over 5,000 have been unique users,” described Ries. “For a campus with an enrollment of 15,000, that is 33% of our students.”

One of the favorite amenities bringing visitors into the new center includes indoor basketball courts. Previously, the only indoor basketball courts were in an arena managed and controlled by Athletics. Now, with plenty of floor space by PLAE, Campus Recreation has room for all users.

Students are also taking advantage of the additional studio space in the new center. With the ability to have multiple fitness and wellness classes offered simultaneously, the number of group fitness classes has doubled. These classes range from cycling with Matrix Ride, cardio hip-hop and kettlebell fitness to pop Pilates and yin yoga.

Other than amenities, Ries also highlighted the design of the facility, led by Harvard Jolly Architecture and Hastings+Chivetta. Because it is located in the middle of the wetlands, the goal of the design was to bring the outside in. “At almost all points in the building, you can see outside with lots of natural light,” she described. “Wood grain textures and finishes, along with blue colors, were also brought into the design to bring in the natural elements.”

In addition, the new facility meets one of FGCU’s guiding principles by being designed and constructed around the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating standards. On campus, 10 solar- powered trash compactors reduce the frequency of trash pickup, 400 acres have been set aside for environmental preservation and $400,000 is saved each year by using efficient chiller plant operations to cool buildings.

Along with first meeting the needs of students, Ries said there was a reason why they named it the University Recreation and Wellness Center. “Recreation is a part of wellness and wellness is a part of recreation — the two go hand-in-hand,” she said.

One of the ways the two departments have collaborated is by opening an office to Prevention and Wellness’ wellness coaches in the facility. “We believe it is everyone’s responsibility to help promote and enhance wellness on campus,” said Ries. “Campus Recreation is a part of the team on campus that promotes and contributes to the overall health, wellness, and success of our students, faculty and staff.”

Brittany Howard
Brittany is an assistant editor at Peake Media. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com

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