Preparing Your Rec Center for the New School Year

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The new school year is fast approaching. Before you know it, hordes of students will be flooding back through the doors of your rec center. To help you get ready, a few recreation professionals in various departments will highlight how they prepare for the new school year.

Greg Avakian, the director of campus recreation at California Polytechnic State University, shares insight on how to fix up your rec center for the upcoming school year.

CR: How do you prepare your rec center for the new school year?

GA: Since we have a large facility, we are able to close off sections throughout the summer for one week to 10 days to do a deep cleaning of equipment, floors, fans, walls, all of that kind of stuff. We do painting and other touch up work to keep the building looking like it is still six months old, verses five years old. Both of our maintenance techs on staff are fully trained to take apart and work on all of our machines.

We are very fortunate that we can close off a 7,000 square foot room and still have another 9,000 square feet of exercise space available for our membership. So over a three to four-week period, we will rotate around the building in sections so that we do not impact our users as much as we would during the school year. That way we are ready to roll at 100 percent potential in all of our studios, exercise spaces, gymnasiums and locker areas for the beginning of the fall term.

Then we also plan all of our major upgrades during the summer. For example, we are putting in new flooring in one of our lower exercise rooms this summer. So we have taken out all 150 pieces of cardio and weight equipment and stored it, and are putting in a new Mondo style flooring, which is about a six-week project. We planned that for the summer, so that it will be done by September 1st. Then we also look at our HVAC system, our water heaters at the pool and all that kind of stuff.

CR: What type of training does staff go through before the start of the school year?

GA: We have our all-staff kick off, where we close our facility for two days before the new incoming students move into the resident’s halls. We schedule our all-staff kick off training for about 200 student employees. We start with a big keynote kick off presentation with a guest speaker just to give motivational speech about the value that our student employees have and what they do to contribute to the campus experience. Having an outside speaker has energized our students in a different way than always hearing from the directors or program staff.

rec center

Then we have a lot of team building activities, threading the idea that all of our staff need to interact because they rely on each other. It is important for us to get everyone in one room and let them know that we are all part of one big team and we contribute to the entire campus. It is not just about handing out a towel or checking out a basketball. You really are providing a super valuable service to our students, faculty, staff and Cal Poly community members that utilize our programs.

Then we do, scenarios for example an active shooter, earthquake evacuation drills, customer interactions, etc. It is really active and engaging for the students and our full-time staff so they can build relationships, get to know each other, but they are also learning valuable tools that will make them better for when we actually open the building. Another part of the day is what we call the “nuts and bolts.” The lifeguards will do their rescue drills, our membership staff learn the systems at the front desk, our climbing park will do safety scenarios specific to their areas as well as program management skills. Then at the end, we do a big BBQ for all of our staff as a thank you for coming back to school a little early.

CR: What advice would you give others about getting ready for the new school year?

GA: We are learning as we go. We are heading into our fifth year and each year we are getting a better head start on being proactive. I think that is the key. Always thinking of when do you need to resurface your gym courts? When do you need to do your preventative maintenance? Our number one goal is to make sure this building looks three to six months old. We are committed to providing a safe, clean and hopefully progressive looking facility for our student and campus population. It is really mapping out throughout your 12 months, when you have high-use and low-use times and scheduling those blocks for maintenance and repair, hopefully during the slower times or being able to rotate throughout the facility.

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Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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