Campus workout facilities free for first week

Recreation center allowing students a chance to test expanded campus gyms

To help keep New Year’s resolutions in full force, Eau Claire students can keep exercise free of charge at Crest Wellness Center and McPhee Strength and Performance Center on campus until Jan. 27.

Wellness Coordinator Brittany Wold said both centers typically offer free sessions at the beginning of each semester to allow students time to weigh a full semester or yearlong membership purchase.

“A lot of people might come in because they have resolutions they want to keep,” Wold said.

On Tuesday, the first day of classes, Ray Hatzenbeller, junior and Crest Wellness Center employee, said the workout center was very busy during his shift Monday. They didn’t even have enough cubbies to hold people’s belongings.

More people showed up to see the center’s recent expansion, which  reaches into Higherground’s former footprint, Hatzenbeller said. But the extra traffic didn’t bother him.

“It’s more fun because there are more people to talk to,” he said.

Beginning Jan. 27 memberships will be enforced at Crest and MSPC. Crest and MSPC cost $45 for a semester membership individually, with a $12 additional cost for dual membership.

After the week, the workout facilities will begin to charge for access. The university uses segregated fees, a charge on top of tuition to help pay for recreation facilities, sporting and health services, and to help lower the cost of recreational memberships. The Eau Claire Recreational Facilities received $295,000 for the 2013-2014 academic year.

“We use the fees for student staff to manage and maintain equipment and to manage and update fitness machines,” Wold said. “They are very, very inexpensive, especially when you compare to what is open to the community.”

Some universities in the UW System offer free access to workout facilities, but others charge for membership varying from university to

Mo McAlpine, the UW-La Crosse associate director for recreational sports said the cost to use the Eagle Center, the
La Crosse recreational facility, is free for students but there are hidden fees.

“We do actually because every student on campus pays a segregated fee,” McAlpine said. “That is really the fee I would consider their membership.”

Each La Crosse student pays $228 in segregated fees for the recreational facility per year to pay for use of the facility. UW-River Falls charges from $89 to $177 for a semester membership and $167 to $320 for a year membership.

At Eau Claire, Wold said she has never received any negative feedback about charging membership fees for the facilities and the free trial has historically been successful in bringing students to the gym.