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USF campus recreation center to grow in size

The Campus Recreation Center will undergo an expansion over the next two years, with its designers looking to add more space and equipment and better dining.

The University received $14.6 million from the Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF), which is generated through student CITF fees paid at state universities and given back in grants to schools for specific projects.

USF will use the funds to expand the campus recreation fitness floor, add two more group fitness studios and increase healthy dining options, said Eric Hunter, director of the Campus Recreation Center.

USF student and fitness staff member Robert Ungeheuer said the current fitness floor is not big enough for everyone who wants to use it, and the expansion would help reduce overcrowding.

“We get really crowded at certain points in the day,” Ungeheuer said. “I think we need it.”

Hunter said the floor plan for the expanded facility has not been finalized, but a few key elements were proposed. He said there is a focus on adding cardio machines, and if space permits, an indoor running track.

Graduate assistant Nakreshia Causey said the current facility doesn’t have nearly enough cardio equipment.

“During peak hours it is very crowded,” Causey said. “People have to stand around and wait their turn for machines, and there is a 30-minute limit on cardio. Hopefully these things will be eliminated once the expansion is finished.”

Graduate student Bobby Griffith thinks the fitness floor needs more free weights and a larger space to use them.

“We need more space without a doubt,” Griffith said. “If you compare our space to other similarly sized schools’ ‘rec’ centers, ours is put to shame. The free weight area is the most congested though.”

When students complete a workout or fitness class, their options for an after-workout snack are the vending machines or Smoothie King on the upper level of the center.

“The dining additions will address the need for healthy options,” Hunter said.

Hunter said the expansion project is not related to the new mandatory freshman residency, but could not come at a better time.

“There will be 1,000 additional students living on campus,” he said. “Student residents use campus facilities much more than any other group.”

On average, more than 14,000 individuals attend campus recreation a year, Hunter said.

“Nearly half of the student body is using the facility for some activity,” Hunter said. “No other student facility sees that much usage and that speaks to the need of more facilities.”

Hunter said the entryway to the center may be updated or possibly relocated, depending on the design.

In the long run, Hunter said he hopes to see campus recreation transformed into a wellness center, including student health services, counseling, advocacy and further expansion of fitness areas.

The design team has been selected and Hunter said the design concept should be unveiled shortly.

Ground breaking for construction is set for January. Hunter said the opening of the updated campus recreation center is scheduled for summer 2011.

“The expansion is long overdue and will be highly utilized by the student population,” Hunter said. “I view campus recreation as being this treasure that students access for their total wellness, and being able to impact student wellness on a daily basis is very gratifying.”