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USF Health opens new fitness center

Dr. Joe Ford, assistant vice president of Shared Student Services Center, led the push for a new student center at USF Health, which now includes a fully-equipped fitness center. ORACLE PHOTO/MIKI SHINE

Campus Recreation opened its new satellite location in USF Health. The facility includes weight and cardio machines along with lockers.

The facility is part the USF Health’s expansion of the Wellness, Engagement, Leadership and Learning (WELL) Student Center that started over summer. The full expansion included a new dining area – Rising Roll – and study areas along with the fitness center.

The first phase of construction opened in the beginning of fall semester with this additional area opening on schedule.

“I’m so proud to be a part of an organization whose mission is to make life better for individuals, families, communities and our society both big and small,” Dr. Joe Ford, assistant vice president of Shared Student Services Center, said at the opening Monday. “This new state-of-the-art fitness center is just one of those many ways. We are fully committed to both the health and the well-being of our students and each other.”

According to Ford, the funding for the fitness center came largely from saving in the Collective Investment Fund, contribution from members of the Health community and additional funding from Student Government. The budget for the full renovation was $8.5 million.

“Really this was a group effort,” said Dr. Ed Funai chief operating officer and vice president for administration at USF Health. “When we weren’t sure this project was going to happen, you guys (Ford and his team) were behind it. You were great advocates for the students. When we weren’t sure where the money was going to come from, Joe was the first one to step up and donate himself. It’s impressive to see what you all have accomplished and you’ve really hit it out of the park”

The center is open to all USF students. Funai announced USF Health faculty would be able to get a free membership as well. It will be staffed by Campus Rec.

“When I was brought the idea of this facility back in the beginning of this year, and more the price tag along with this facility, I was a little bit nervous,” Chris Griffin, student body president, said. “But I took a moment and I looked at how important it was for all the students over here and how far from this side of campus the current Recreation Center facility is and the impact that having this facility over here would have on our undergraduate students over here, our graduate students over here and all of our medical students who are over here.

“After looking at all of that, we played with the budget and we made it work. We’re very excited to be a partner in this new facility.”