Megan C's English 400 Proposal

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Blog #7: The Path to Fitness- Finding a Solution for a Trial Run Extension

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Clements at 9:07 pm on Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Longwood University strives for it’s students to maintain a balance between mental and physical well-being and health. The Health and Wellness Center is designed to do just that! Many aspects of the center are great, even the fitness floor, which has a wonderful array of cardio and weight equipment. However, the fitness center could be improved in at least one way according to some: give us more hours!

Students have voiced their desire for longer hours in the fitness portion of the center, but no formal suggestion has ever been made about it. Some students deal with rigorous schedules here at Longwood and squeezing in exercise early in the morning or right between day-time classes just doesn’t work. Many of them, like myself, want to get it all done before moving on to our own needs. So, we end up putting exercise and any other personal activities on hold until we are done with school work. This usually leaves us free somewhere between 10pm and later. For those that like to frequent the gym later at night, the problem usually stems from lack of day-time availability. The reasons why some go to the gym late at night are fairly simple: health benefits and stress relief. People want to work off all those late night snack and D-Hall food, or they just need an outlet after staring at a textbook or writing a 10-page paper. It feels good to burn some calories and loosen up the muscles, and night-owls deserve the same opportunity that early birds have as well.

As a daily gym user, I understand first-hand the importance of getting a good workout in at least once a day. Without it, I feel sluggish and my anxiety disorder tends to make me antsy at times. Sometimes I go to the gym during the day, but sometimes I only have time at night. I can usually squeeze in my 35 minutes of high intensity cardio but on some days, like when I race back from my German tutoring job around 9pm to make it to the gym by at least 9:30 (gym closes at 10pm), I’m cutting it close. I hate worrying on some days that I’m not going to get my workout in- it’s one of the only things I have on campus that I consider quality time to myself. So, when I have to stress about fitting this in and racing against the clock, this bothers me. And, I imagine I am not the only one.

So, what’s the solution to the issue? We must demand longer hours! Not quite. 

Extending the gym’s hours is not something that can happen in a snap; it would take some strategical planning and honestly, a full-blown extension will never work without a trial-run first. We can’t expect the director’s over at the center to be 100% on board when there’s no real proof to back up the success of such an extension. A trial run is the most reasonable starting point. My proposed trial run would stand for only one week, from Monday-Thursday. The new hours would be from 6:30am-12am, instead of until 10pm.

I thought this was going to be a lot more difficult to launch into action, but after talking to one of the director’s over at the fitness center, Gus Hemmer, I was gladly surprised to hear that the trial run would not be such a big deal. There are at least 3 main issues in regards to the extension, and here I will propose 3 “solutions” to them. I quote the word because the problems really are not as complex as I assumed they would be.

In order to have longer hours the 3 things necessary are:

1) Money

2)Security

3)Staff

—Of course, you need people to use the gym as well but the whole point of the trial is to assess people’s usage of the center—

Solutions:

1) Money would not be such a massive issue. According to Mr. Hemmer, and based on my research of the facility already…the center is already energy efficient which cuts down on cost, and cost for power, etc. is already financially covered. Also, Mr. Hemmer said that the lights in the center already stay on until midnight, so having the fitness center open until 12 would not affect electrical costs. (Cost of employees is something I will include in the Staff section, #3)

2) Security would be helpful, although not required. Mr. Hemmer thought it would be a good idea to employ a Longwood police officer to check and watch over the building for the 2 hour extension. This would be of no additional cost to the school or students.

3) Additional staff would be necessary. However, the amount would only be 2 to keep the place running, plus a manager. The additional pay increase would only amount to $13o- that includes both people for one week of late-night work. Mr. Hemmer also admitted that the possibility for employees to resist later hours is possible but that the problem of finding willing workers is really not an issue. He mentioned that issues of scheduling usually arise from student-workers personal schedules, so those who go to class later usually don’t have a problem. Also, he says that he receives about 40 applications per submission period and that there is more than enough people and possibilities for working this shift.

Resistance becomes the biggest issue, as you can see, with relation to staffing which will be addressed in the next blog, but even the director thinks this problem is minimal.

There’s really not much to lose here except maybe 130 extra dollars that will go to hard working college students. If a trial run is feasible and possible, what’s the harm?

 

 

Megan Clements

Blog #6: Let’s Get to the Point- Getting Pumped for the Fitness Proposal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Clements at 11:35 pm on Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I’ve been going through the idea in my head and I think its safe to say that every time I write a blog I amend the plan. I have finally pin-pointed the issues and also what exactly I would like to propose for steps towards extended hours in the main campus fitness center. The whole process is sort of like doing warm-ups before the big game- cheesy maybe but true.

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First, here’s the “problem”- but I like to say issue because extending hours in the gym is not exactly controversial stuff in my opinion. It has been drawn to my attention that a group of students on campus would like to see the gym have longer hours into the night. Most of the reasons brought up were either:

1). Stress- Around exam times or late-night cram sessions students are wound up and need a break or want to burn off all those snacking calories accrued during study sessions.

2). Anxiety/Restlessness- students are night owls and/or have a lot on their minds and find it hard to sleep at night.

3). Other Health Concerns: either all of the above are true or they are just gym-centric and enjoy going multiple times a day

4). Schedule Issues: Students may find it hard to squeeze a workout in during the day time because they are rushing around for class, and early afternoon comprises of homework. They are left with the end of the night as their open slot and by that time it is too late for the gym.

So, the issue is that some students want the gym to have these longer hours in order to promote mental and physical well-being but find that they cannot always do this because of certain time conflicts. The gym hours should be extended in order to promote what the center already claims to strive for: improvement of mental and physical wellness.

 

health means wealth- creative commons

Easier said than done, yes. So, the basic proposal will only be to facilitate a trial run of such an extension. That means, a one week trial run will be given on the days of the week that have the longest hours (which is most likely a result of the popularity of those days over others). Those days are Monday-Thursday (school nights!). If you think about it, it should really become evident that the correlation between the longest gym hours and the days of the week seem to suggest that it is already obvious to many that the gym needs greater accessibility during school days. There is some importance between school and the gym hours. The gym is not open as long or late during Friday-Sunday. Why? Probably because people are not generally spending so much time stressing- they are taking their break from academia. Maybe they are drinking. Maybe they went home. Whatever the case, they are taking a break- they are getting the therapy they need from a week of stress. During the week, it would be possible to drink, slack off or visit friends, but generally most good students do not do this and must resort to healthier and less time and energy consuming options; the gym is one of these options.

 

People are going to be affected by the extension, of course. The gym faculty will have to work a little longer, but that’s more money! The student users (maybe some professors) will be affected. They will have greater access to the gym! And, in some small way anyone around those gym-using students at least has potential to be affected. Just think, who likes to be around grumpy people? We already live in an environment laden with stress! Having greater access to the gym could relieve some of this and make living situations more agreeable. Also, even if you have no relation or connection to a gym-user…it is proven that exercise relieves stress-yes!- but also improves academic success. With that in mind, consider how much better the school could do if more people could exercise when they want? It may be a stretch to suggest, but it is possible that increased exercise would improve academics on campus and therefore boost the school’s academic reputation- and that looks great for all of us.

 

graduation- creative commons

So, I have just presented the stakeholders and the benefits of each. But now for the downfalls or considerations that must seriously be deliberated in the extension:

1). Feasibility- How much will this really cost?

2). Liability- Who will be responsible during the late shift for safety? Is this idea safe even?

3). Possibility- Who will be willing to work later?

 

I hope to uncover these 3 very important issues through talking to the directors of the facility very soon.

 

I want to propose a two to three hour extension in the main campus fitness center. It currently closes at 10pm. I am aiming to propose a trial run that would keep the gym open for students and professors as late as 1am. The trial would start on a Monday and end on a Thursday: the times the gym is open latest, which i feels bears some significance. If the results from the proposed trial extension are positive then it could be worth while to look into a full-blown extension for the long term. But, any good thing must be taken in stride- you don’t start a marathon in a full blown run. You shouldn’t do anything without a warm-up first. How could anyone forget that?

 

 

Megan Clements

 

Blog # 5: An Overview and Position in Defense of Fitness Center Hour Extenstion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Clements at 7:37 pm on Wednesday, October 9, 2013

 What’s the Deal and What’s the Problem?

Health and wellness are not all-together new ideas in American culture. Being fit and happy is a goal that many strive to achieve for different reasons. Longwood University is a college community that recognizes the benefits to a healthy mind and body and because of this they have established a health and wellness center of their own back in 2007. The center houses a plentiful variety of cardio and weight equipment along with a track, basket ball court, rock climbing wall, fitness classrooms and even a clinic and counseling center. The fitness center is the main focus of this discussion. Some students have voiced the opinion that the center should extend its hours later so that students may use the facility at their leisure. Having hours extended will help rid students of unwanted stress, which they experience daily due to the rigorous college lifestyle. An extension will require the cooperation of the fitness center staff…

Some view this extension as a good thing, while others see it as something time-consuming or a waste of money. While some students and staff view the proposed extension as a good opportunity to create jobs on campus and a contribution to student well-being and fitness, others find the extension impractical due to the necessity of late-night/early-morning workers and the question of funding. Both sides have valid points. Those for the extension will benefit either from having the chance to work more and obtain more money, by being a student who relies on the fitness center for health and wellness reasons or by being a fellow student who by default will reap the benefits of having happy and healthy peers. The downfalls to this extension could mean later shift hours and a slightly higher cost in maintaining the facility, along with liability issues. In examining the feasibility and possibility of an extended hour gym, a solution may be met.

A small step in the right direction may simply mean a test run of hour extensions in which the center would run the 3-4 hour extension during the school week only. If that fails to procure late night/early morning visitors and usage seems stagnant, then perhaps the fitness center is already meeting student needs. We cannot ignore the voices out there though that suggest and support the idea of fitness center hour extension.

Should the Gym Extend Its Weekly Hours?

Yes. However, there will undeniably be real costs in extending the fitness center’s hours. However, these costs will not seem so bad when compared to the grander scheme of things. The fitness center is supported and certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, which means the facility is efficient in both water and electricity among other aspects . If we keep in mind that the extension would only require less than half of the facility to function for the 3-4 hours extension (the lower half of the facility which houses the cardio/weight floor) the cost would not rise too much. As far as student jobs are concerned, the extension would only require two student workers on the extended shifts. So, again not much money will be lost.

As a student that uses the fitness center on a daily basis, I understand the importance of this extension. What the extension means for many students is that they will have greater access to an area which will allow them to exercise, which in turn means they will be healthier physically but also mentally. Last week I suffered from terrible food poisoning, so bad that I broke my daily gym routine (GASP! indeed). For many, the big deal may not be apparent and it wasn’t exactly for me either until I went to the gym for the first time in over a week this Tuesday. Before that, last week and over the weekend, I felt awful- not just sick but sluggish, unmotivated and more stressed than usual. I suffer from a diagnosed anxiety disorder so this build up in my mind and body. I could not believe how much better, refreshed and rejuvenated I felt after only 30 minutes high intensity on that elliptical! The day flew by! I felt amazing; a big smile on my face all afternoon. The difference in feeling made it so much easier to face my classes. What I’m getting at is that the benefits of exercise are real, not only physically but psychologically.

 Many students, especially late-night gym-goers, seek out the center as an outlet to de-stress; it helps them focus and gets rid of tension. If I am not mistaken, the goal of the center according to its founding President Dr. Cormier was to shape mind, body and spirit, so extending hours will help this goal. If hours can be extended, if only by a few hours, it will make all the difference in the academic lives of stressed students. Sometimes all you need is an hour to step away from the Bio-Chemistry midterm or that Psychology research paper in order to compose your sanity and continue.

Exercise contributes positively to the decrease of stress. One place we all know is a breeding-ground for stress is the college campus. Whether you are a teacher, staff member or student you have witnessed the negative effects of this stressful environment. Campuses function differently than other work environments because the workers (the students) function non-stop. The gym needs to consider longer hours because stress does not just stop after the last class of the day. It continues long into the night.

Plain and simple: Exercise is a good way to reduce stress, and college students are stressed. If that’s the case, then the fitness center should elongate its hours.

Megan Clements

Blog # 4:Two Sides To Every Story

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Clements at 10:59 pm on Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The problem: Plain and simple…there exists a demand for extended hours in Longwood University’s gym and this demands sprouts predominately from good students who either live healthy life styles, need to blow off some late night stress-steam- or a combination of both. One of the school’s aims, and the fitness center’s as well, is to create health students both in body and mind. Having a gym with longer hours would help achieve this goal.

The main issue with this idea rests within the fitness center’s administration and staff. The target audience for using the gym exists! Between athletes that wake up early for practice, health conscious students and the rest that use the gym to homework-detox it is evident that if some compromise could be made in hour extension, the gym would receive good use. Resistance meets its toughest match, therefore, with the staff and managers.

I anticipate from talking to gym staff members that the two sides are something akin to what follows:

1. Having the gym open a little later would be good. I could make some more money.

2. Having the gym open late at all is a terrible idea- who would want to work that late? Pointless.

Now We’re Open Later- Creative Commons

 

Some staff members would not mind working the later shifts because they simply need money and also, they are night owls. Some people just love the night life—we live on a college campus (people like this are bound to exist)! I would personally not mind working no later than 1pm if my work load was not too overbearing- but I’d rather be the one working out on the equipment. So, thankfully there are those out there that would not mind. Not to mention, staff during the 2 hour afternoon extension would only require a mandatory two people according to center staff members, and their job would be limited to main floor cardio/weights area- not the whole place. Less work. More money. Some people can put the two together and see the benefits.

The other reaction to this extension is reasonable as well. Why in the world would anyone want to stay up so late? Right. College students already have a lot on their plates. Some of us don’t get to bed until 2am (maybe later?). Some of us just don’t like working at night. Some of us might not like working at night knowing that the flow of costumers may be slow- pacing may be the problem. All of these are valid reasons to refuse to work extension shifts (again: extension would be from 5am-1am- a grand total of 4 hours). Here’s the answer: these staff members do not have to work those shifts. Only 2 staff members plus a supervisor are mandatory so that only requires 2 willing members to volunteer their time out of a handful of student workers. Someone is bound to be open to the idea.

This is all a game of speculation. Since the center has never tried a 24/7 or extended hour approach to health and wellness at Longwood (and since I have yet to interview a manager) it is difficult to say exactly what would work at this time, but I have listened to staff members and these two sides exist. Perhaps a test run or pre-poll of who could work these hours would be a good idea before jumping into a full-blown extension. Maybe only extend hours during a few weekdays at first, or even give incentive to those willing to work the extension. There are many possibilities, but it seems necessary that some trial run must be conducted.

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In the article I found, More hours, more convenience: 24-hour gyms look at luring customers with extended hours,  these two basic issues are explored. The article mentions several gyms across the country that are starting to explore this late-night trend, among those being a gym called Energy Fitness Midtown. It serves as the trial location for another Energy Fitness location that only maintains “normal business hours” (Shull). The 24 hour center runs “as an experiment” (Shull) according to their manager, and if successful they will turn the main center into a 24 hour gym as well. Many gym owners don’t even play with the idea of extending hours, claiming that they have not heard of a high demand for longer hours- some claiming that “…[the] area is so small…” in some locations that with longer hours they “…wouldn’t see anybody in…[there]” (Shull). However, some feel that small areas are great promoters for this sort of idea: they tend to create a sense of community and also promote fitness amongst those that may be too shy to work out in bigger day time crowds (Shull).

Having extended hours could be another way to bring our Longwood community together while giving students an available outlet for health and mental wellness even at the latest hours and also encouraging those that might otherwise be hesitant to give the facility a shot. Both sides of the argument for gym hour extensions make perfect sense- it seems the real question that could sway the opinion is, is it manageable and will it get used? If yes, then we just might have a shot.

 

Works  Cited:

Shull, Adam. “More hours, more convenience; 24-hour gyms look at luring customers with extended hours”. The Paducah Sun. July

26 2009. Web. October 2 2013.

 

Megan Clements