For the past 20 years, the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center has defined wellness for the University of Miami community. When the University of Miami’s Herbert Wellness Center opened its doors in 1996, it was among the first, if not the first, college or recreation center to include “wellness” in its name and base the entirety of its mission on a lifestyle of health and wellness.
“The expansion of our programs is the biggest change I’ve seen since I began working here 20 years ago,” said Patty Swift, assistant director of business and marketing at the Herbert Wellness Center. “No one could have anticipated the tremendous popularity or success of our facility, so it became apparent rather quickly that we needed more programming and space to serve the variety of members we have.”
Since opening two decades ago, the Herbert Wellness Center has seen transformations in all facets of the facility. Within the past 15 years, expert professionals in the fields of fitness and wellness have joined the HWC team, allowing for a wider variety of inclusive community programs and services, such as meditation, healthy cooking, smoking cessation and nutrition education. Following an $8 million naming gift in 2008 from UM alumni Patti, B.B.A. 1957, and Allan Herbert, B.B.A. 1955, M.B.A. 1958, an 18,000-sq.-ft. expansion was completed in 2011, ushering in a new era for the Herbert Wellness Center.
“Many of our programs would not be possible without the support from our donors, particularly the Herberts,” said Scott Levin, executive director of the Herbert Wellness Center. “For example, the Love Bridge, endowed by the Herberts, is an innovative funding solution that provides free basic fitness assessments for all students.”
The Herbert Wellness Center is a 140,000-sq.-ft. facility with high quality fitness equipment and workout spaces, but what sets it apart from other college recreation centers are its innovative partnerships with national and University-wide organizations. The Center is among 38 universities participating in the Partnership for a Healthier America’s national Healthier Campus Initiative. The Herbert Wellness Center also has partnerships across the University of Miami, including with UHealth, the UM health system, located on the Miller School of Medicine campus. Its partnerships with departments like Human Resources, UBike, GreenU and University Communications allow the Herbert Wellness Center to expand its breadth and depth of programs and services. The Herbert Wellness Center is also at the forefront of academic research; the facility hosted, supported, and participated in groundbreaking research studying the effects of concussions on athletes. In addition, the Center hosts several academic courses, including chemistry cooking classes and classes on the theory of dance.
“It takes more than just physical exercise and eating right to maintain good health,” says Levin. “Our national and local partnerships allow our members, as well as the community, to fully embrace all dimensions of wellness.”
With a fundamental emphasis on wellness and health, the Herbert Wellness Center serves as a place for the UM community, made up of students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni to stay connected with one another.
“It is important for UM to have a top-notch recreation center not only for recruitment and retention purposes, but also because people are now faced with many fitness choices,” said Levin. “Staying current with first-rate programs and facilities allows our members, particularly students, to get it all under one roof.”
The Herbert Wellness Center is honoring its 20th anniversary with several special events and programs throughout the year. The preparation began a year in advance when a UM School of Communication senior-level public relations class worked throughout the spring 2015 semester to create a yearlong campaign for the anniversary.
“The student input was invaluable to our campaign,” said Mike Piacentino, marketing specialist at the Herbert Wellness Center. “During the five month period, current students were making decisions that have since been implemented around the building and around campus.”
Special events such as an Orientation House Party, UM’s Largest Yoga Class, Spooky Spin, and Battleship were held leading up to the main event. The excitement will culminate with the Herbert Wellness Center’s 20th Anniversary Celebration where students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests will enjoy food, music and dancing all reminiscent of the 1990s.
Looking to the future, the Center is interested in taking advantage of UM’s own medical research to find new benefits of health, exercise and nutrition as a means to shape future programming. The Herbert Wellness Center is also working to foster and support students so they can pursue careers in campus recreation, public health, exercise science and other related fields. The University of Miami is undergoing a cultural transformation and the Herbert Wellness Center is adapting and changing alongside the university.
“As a student-run facility, students are an integral part of our success,” said Swift, who also oversees student employment for the department. “Our students are both our customers and our co-workers.”
The Herbert Wellness Center’s 20th Anniversary Celebration is a chance for the University to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. While its facility and programs have changed over the years, one thing about the Herbert Wellness Center has remained constant: its unwavering focus on defining wellness for the UM community through the highest-quality programs and services led by experts at a top-notch facility.
About: The Department of Wellness and Recreation strives to foster a lifestyle of responsible choices supporting the mind, the body, and the spirit in educational, wellness, and recreational programs through services and facilities for the University community. The Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center opened its doors in 1996 and has continued to provide a wide range of fitness, wellness and recreational programs and services to thousands of patrons each year.