During a break in classes, sophomore psychology major Jacob Barasch wants nothing more than to get in some concentrated exercise and move on with his day. He loves the convenience of FIU’s gym at MMC, but the crowds are killing him.
“It takes me two hours to get in a 45-minute workout,” he said. “There’s a lot of waiting.”
And no wonder: In August 2005 FIU Recreation Services opened the newly painted doors of the campus recreation center to FIU’s 27,000 students. In just 10 years, the student body has doubled, and now the facility is packed with students, faculty, staff and alumni looking to do their bodies good. During each of the past two academic years, the facility has consistently handled more than 400,000 uses.
So the latest news is very welcome: Plans are underway to more than double the size of the Wellness & Recreation Center – MMC, as it’s now known, by the fall of 2017.
A $25 million infusion from the Florida Capital Improvement Trust Fund, Student Government Association and FIU’s Department of Housing will allow for a more than 60,000-square-foot expansion. Set to begin construction in the spring of 2016, the center will surpass the national average for fitness space for colleges, roughly one square foot per student.
“Recreation centers are very important,” said Larry Lunsford, vice president for Student Affairs. “It goes beyond giving students a place to work out. Today, rec centers are also a place for relaxation and socialization. We know that exercise is good for your health, both physically and mentally, and healthy students do better in school. The expansion will accommodate more students and give them the tools they need to either learn or maintain healthy lifestyle habits.”
The expansion will include:
- A three-court basketball gymnasium, for a total of five indoor courts
- 6,600 square feet of fitness space to accommodate new state-of-the-art cardio equipment including top brand names TechnoGym and Star Trac
- A 6,500-square-foot strength room featuring TechnoGym, Hammer Strength and other branded equipment
- 3,000 square feet of additional men’s and women’s locker rooms, including two gender-neutral shower/changing rooms and two gender-neutral bathrooms
- Three new fitness rooms dedicated to activities such as Spinning, martial arts and other types of small-group training
- A dedicated office for personal trainers and clients
- A racquetball/squash convertible court, plus one dedicated racquetball court
- A new student lounge area with comfortable seating, TVs and device charging stations
- West facing views of the Nature Preserve
- A 1/12 mile indoor jogging/walking track
- Two outdoor basketball courts
- A sand volleyball court with spectator seating
- A new south-facing grand entrance
“I know it will be an excellent facility for us,” said Robert Frye, director of the Wellness & Recreation Center – MMC. “Certainly in how we compare to other state university schools, after the expansion, we will be in the upper half.”
Expectations are high as the design team is HKS Architects and Moss Construction, the same pair responsible for the three-time award winning Parkview Hall residence hall. The existing recreation center will remain open throughout the construction.
The Wellness and Recreation Center – BBC is also open to students, faculty, staff and the community, located at the Biscayne Bay Campus.