In 2012, The College at Brockport State University of New York opened a new recreation facility, the Special Events Recreation Center (SERC). The new facility was even awarded a NIRSA Outstanding Facility Award in 2013. According to Scott Haines, the director of campus recreation, when the SERC opened, the usage increased tremendously. He explained this was mostly due to the fact that the SERC was able to offer group fitness classes, which they were unable to do in the old facility because of space constraints.
However, recently the number of students visiting the SERC began to decrease. According to Haines, specifically they saw a decline in the female population taking advantage of group exercise classes.
To combat this issue, Betsy Ernst, the fitness and wellness coordinator, and her team of student directors thought of Fit Fest, an evening event that highlighted personal trainers, a boxing program at the college and four group fitness classes.
“We wanted to really start to highlight those areas and make sure that students are aware of all the programs that we offer, and a lot of those programs are group exercise,” said Ernst. “All of those classes are free. So there’s really no reason a student wouldn’t be able to participate in them.”
On Thursday, January 28, The Fit Fest started with a “Meet the Trainers” session, which allowed students the opportunity to meet with personal trainers one-on-one and ask questions about soreness, nutrition or the benefits of one-on-one training.
“For students to be able to get out and interact with [the personal trainers], with another live person, they can get a sense of who they may be more comfortable working with if they choose to do some personal training,” explained Haines.
During the “Meet the Trainers” session, campus recreation was also able to promote the buddy system, which allows students an opportunity to participate in personal training with a friend. Haines explained that through the buddy system, campus recreation actually loses money after they pay their personal trainers, but more students sign-up for personal training sessions with a friend, so he’s willing to keep the prices down. According to the college’s student newspaper, a single, hour-long personal training session is $15 for students, $50 for four sessions, and $90 for eight sessions.
Then, from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. that evening, students were able to participate in 45-minute Zumba, body pump and yoga classes.
Haines and Ernst recognize they’re competing with social media and students participating in other events on campus. But he believes planning unique events, like a Fit Fest, gets students enthusiastic about fitness. “I’ve always said to our staff that sometimes the best program isn’t in the numbers you get, it’s whether you’ve got two people who perhaps have been sitting in their residence hall all semester and they came out and decided they wanted to be a part of something,” added Haines.
Next year, the campus recreation department plans to push the event back a week, to the second week of the spring semester in hopes of garnering more attention. “[Students are] worried about classes, they’re worried about seeing their friends again and all that stuff,” explained Haines. “And so we want to be able to market it properly. Pushing the Fit Fest back a week also allows intramural sports to be included in the programming next year.”