Megan C's English 400 Proposal

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Blog #3: Fitness Pays Off…But, Who Pays The Price?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Clements at 9:41 pm on Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Maybe the idea of extending Longwood’s Fitness Center hours seems like a nice idea in theory, but who would it affect because that’s an extremely important question. Sure! Fitness is great and having a gym on campus that is open til’ late would be something worth bragging about to others, but it is one thing to explore an idea and another to actually put it in motion. Any plan within reason can be possible…however, it requires people to make it happen. Who would have to be sold on the idea of hour extensions in the fitness center in order for it to be even a twinkle in our eyes: 1) The gym’s users- if there is nobody using it, what would be the point in having extra hours? 2) Gym Faculty- managers, staff and facility/maintenance workers need to be in-the-know or else the gym ceases to function and 3) Security personnel- like police officers, because someone has to make sure a late-night facility runs without putting the university at risk of liability for people’s foolishness.

Users (predominately students- some professors/ university staff) matter in this situation for the obvious reason that they are the consumer. They are the ones that pay (swipe) to get into the gym and are also the target group that the fitness center aims to better in wellness and health. In 2008, 1 year after it’s grand opening  on August 24, 2007 it was recorded that about 560 students used the gym daily (Caldwell). Now, without having access to more recent data it is hard to claim what the numbers are years later in 2013 but with the fact that the school experiences a constant increase in population, it is easy to see that the numbers might have bumped up since then, and with more variety there will surely be more people with crazy schedules that cannot always go at reasonable hours. Students need as much of a chance as they can get to blow off steam.

Faculty and security are the two other key players here, because without them the idea of a gym with extended hours will remain just that: an idea. Faculty and security are what will keep the center running smoothly and safely. Faculty will have two main concerns:

1) Cost

2) Liability

As far as cost is concerned, it may not be as expensive as some might argue. First, there is the fact that the facility has been certified as GOLD by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) (Health and Fitness Center). This means that the building is equipped with tools necessary to deem it sustainable. The center is, among other aspects, water and energy efficient (Health and Fitness Center) and this reduces both excess water and electricity use.

 

Visit LEED and see what they’re about: http://www.usgbc.org/leed

 

If the gym were to be open longer, the idea would be to simplify it’s operation. So, all of it’s parts would not be open to student use after normal running hours (i.e. fitness classes/rooms and the basketball court or upstairs track. The gym would be limited to the main floor where the weights and cardio equipment areThe late-night shift would be minimized to cardio, strength and free weights- the basics for fitness. If the gym is already efficient in water and electrical use, the addition of 3-4 hours would not effect cost in such an extreme way.

As far as liability is concerned, Longwood can go 1 of 2 ways. They could employ a small late-night staff, the required 2 person minimum, of students willing to work for a little extra money and could improve security and have the center function on a more independent level as do many gyms of a similar concept. This would require less student workers (so they would not have to give away more money). Of course, something will have to stand in for the security that will be missing from the gym if employees are not present or scarce. An automated security system would have to be established. That means: at least one security guard both in and outside the building at all times, additional cameras and the use of a security key process to enter the building. This would would great because Longwood already uses such systems with all of the buildings already: you swipe your card and you enter. The fitness center even has it (on the inside), so it would only be a matter of installing one security swipe on the outside of the building.

 

Security Card Swipe System- Creative Commons

In my hometown, we have a gym called Anytime Fitness and they are starting to appear all over the place. The concept is quite similar to what I have just explained. In an article, Pat van den Beemt describes the flexibility of Anytime Fitness: “The gym is staffed 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Fridays; and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sat. The rest of the time, members use their electronic keys to enter the building. Security cameras are in the parking lot and in the gym” (den Beemt). One member of a Jacksonville branch claims it to be a “proven success” (den Beemt). Although Anytime Fitness is a 24/7 gym, it is a good model to observe when considering how the school could go about a similar addition.

So, let’s not deceive ourselves here. Somewhere, somehow, somebody is going to have to pitch in for the center to have longer hours, but it seems that Longwood has already taken strides that could allow the possibility of an extension to become a feasible reality.

Anytime Fitness Interior- Creative Commons

 

Works Cited:

Caldwell, Gina. “Creating a Fit U.” longwood.edu. Spring 2008. Web. 25 September 2013.

den Beemt, Pat van. “Anytime Fitness, a 24/7 gym, opens in Jacksonville.” North County News. 13 September 2012. Web. 25 Septemb-          er 2012.

Health and Fitness Center. Longwood University. n.d. Web. 25 September 2013.

 

Megan Clements.

 

7 Comments »

18

Comment by Danielle Murray

September 26, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

You did a really nice job here. I personally do not think I would utilize longer hours at the gym. Mostly because I rarely go to the gym as it is, and I would hate working out late at night. However, I do recognize that many others would greatly appreciate longer hours. I really liked your idea of using security equipment rather than employees to supervise late night exercisers. My roommate is an employee at the gym, and I know a few others who are employed there as well. They have crazy schedules and early morning classes just like the rest of us, so making them stay even later might make things more stressful for them.

27

Comment by Megan Clements

October 7, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

Well at least you don’t think the idea is TOO outlandish! 🙂 And yes, I am considering the crazy schedule aspect, of course! Do you think the 3-4 hour extension would really be a burden to students though? I mean, I see how it could be. I know as a student that every little hour of studying/homework counts towards getting things done. But, if the extension only was 3-4 hours (maybe 2 hours per worker tops, I’d imagine) I think it might not affect their stress much. They could do homework during their free time- which i know a lot of them do already during regular hours. Plus, they would most likely have more free time because these would not be peak gym hours. They would be slower hours so they could do more with their time. Just a thought. I agree with you.

31

Comment by Megan Clements

October 11, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

I actually answered this in a separate comment above…if you were interested in an actual response! sorry!

21

Comment by Michelle McMaster

October 2, 2013 @ 12:16 am

I love the card access idea outside of the gym! This is already used outside of the Landings and dorm buildings so it is already a solution common to Longwood. Just for clarification, are Farmville residents allowed in our campus gym? I’ve never seen Farmville locals, but I was curious since they use our library and other facilities.
I also have any Anytime Fitness in my hometown, and although I’ve never had a membership there, my friends that have been there have assured me that they always felt safe despite having no workers at all on the premise. Have you decided on the exact times you are arguing for?

26

Comment by Megan Clements

October 7, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

I am not 100% sure about the resident/local Farmvillian (I improvised) usage. I think the only way they can use the gym is if they pay…so they would not be able to use the card-swipe machine. I like the idea as well but I think there is a required minimum amount of workers that must be on the floor due to liability issues. I still need to get an interview with a manager to confirm some of these liability and financial questions.

39

Comment by Kathleen Whitney

October 24, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

Hi, I’m from another ENGL 400 class. I am at the gym ALL the time and I love it so while I would LOVE to see the gym open later on Friday and Saturday (actually I wish it would open earlier on Saturday and Sunday), there are a few issues I’m not sure you really cleared up.

While actually exercising is really good for you, so is sleep or at least physically resting (even if sleep doesn’t come easily). At some point, you really should not be exercising until midnight. It’s just not good for you. Not to mention, it is recommended that people eat within 30 minutes of finishing exercise but at that same token it is recommended not eating a certain amount of time before bed. Check into some articles addressing sleep, exercise, and eating balances. Longwood wants to encourage healthy lifestyle habits.

Also look at the student workers. Is it really fair to ask them to stay up past midnight (because they will have to clean the towels, wipe down the equipment, etc.)? These students also need rest and forcing them to stay up until 1 am the night before an exam or at all isn’t fair. They aren’t even supposed to do homework while working the desk.

I’ve been in the gym numerous times until the last second and very often there is are hardly any students still there. Why not do a census of the number of gym goers there are each day beginning at 8pm? You said how many students went to the gym in general but that doesn’t really help argue the point about how many students actually want the gym to be open later.

Just some things to think about.

49

Comment by Megan Clements

October 28, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

thanks! that’s helpful. someone else brought that up as well about sleep vs. exercise. you have given me a great argument to anticipate and it really is a strong one against it!

I do agree with you. Although, however important the balance between sleep and exercise is, it doesn’t change the fact that there is a group of students out there that use the gym late-night for various health reasons and some of them can function fine during the rest of the day. Maybe they don’t even have class til afternoons so they are getting a good amount of sleep. People are responsible to themselves. I cannot imagine denying someone the right to exercise just because it is a general fact that exercise at 12am is “bad” for you. I am not arguing the validity of that! I have heard your comment before in health magazines and through people. So the argument is not crazy, but what I mean is that people will do what makes them feel better regardless of any general rules. I exercise late at night sometimes and I feel fully functional and I am in perfect health. People need to be able to make health related choices for themselves.

Now, this proposal is only a trial…so if the hours did even go through it would only be for 4 days. The trial would rely, first, upon the help of volunteered staff to work the 2 or 3 hour extension. Hopefully those who would volunteer would be willing and ready to work during that time. Now, if there are no volunteers and the center is forcing people to work late shifts then, yes there is a big problem.

I still need to look into these issues, and I plan on that when I speak to a director soon.

You bring up great points! thank you!

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