Arts & Life

SRWC participation spikes with enticing incentives and the pandemic

While classes are resuming in-person, students are finding normalization in their routines again and many are seeking resources that the Student Recreation and Wellness Center has to offer.

“Students are ready to come back, there are more students on campus, and they are feeling like you know we are moving past COVID,” said Maureen MacRae, director of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

“They are ready to get out and have fun really and get back into their workout routines,” she said.

The “new generation of students” following COVID-19, as MacRae refers to them, focuses on the normalization and stability of their mental and physical health.

“It was a mental struggle to try and stay consistent with at home workouts since COVID closed down the gyms,” said Zackery Love, a fourth-year student. “Since the SRWC opened up, I have been able to be a lot more consistent in working out and staying healthy.”

Students are recognizing the benefits working out has for them and how consistency at the gym means consistency in staying mentally healthy.

Open Bag Trainer Damion Lyons teaching students the fundamentals of kick boxing at the SRWC.
Open Bag Trainer Damion Lyons teaching students the fundamentals of kick boxing at the SRWC. Photo credit: Marita Snyder

“Most definitely that was one of the main reasons why it really helped me. [It] taught me discipline and how to control what is around me and how to control myself,” said Damion Lyons, student and Weight Room Attendant at the SRWC.

While the incentive to practice a healthy routine for a better lifestyle is strong, for some, there might be an even stronger incentive; money.

Owen’s Condition for Tuition is an incentive that allows students to win prizes or even large sums of money for participating at the gym for 30 minutes for a certain number of times throughout the academic year.

“That [Owen’s Condition for Tuition] always played a role in increasing usage because I think that is something that students are like ‘oh my gosh, I can get free tuition just for like coming in here and like taking advantage of doing something for 30 minutes,’” said Leiana Armendariz, membership coordinator at the SRWC.

“Our usage is now back up to averaging about 2,500 so we’re right back to where we were pre-COVID so that was a big jump,” said Leiana Armendariz

There was an average of 2,387 daily participants during the 2019-2020 academic year, before the start of pandemic. During the two year long shutdown, the daily gym users plummeted to an average of 1,324.

Data provided by Leiana Armendariz, Membership Coordinator for SRWC.
Data provided by Leiana Armendariz, Membership Coordinator for SRWC.

Additionally in 2019-2020, Owen’s Condition for Tuition had 7,699 member participation with 755 members completing the program.

As of Oct. 2022, attendance is averaging 2,553 members daily for the Fall 2022 semester, with Owen’s slowly reaching pre-pandemic participation.

“I think it is an incentive for students to come in with the Owen’s Tuition for Condition each time they come in, they’re able to log each time,” said Leena Escamilla, student and SRWC staff member for the Recreation Sports Lead. “They can be entered into the drawing for 2023 tuition, so I think that’s a really cool advantage.”

For mental health resources, Beach Balance is yet another amenity offered to students and alumni to enhance their mental and physical health with various programs and services.

“Just before the pandemic, Beach Balance was servicing an average of 5,500 students a semester,” said Cecilia Guerrero, Fitness and Wellness Coordinator with Beach Balance.

Although they have not reached those numbers, they are projected to in the coming semesters.

Their mission statement aims for, “personal well-being, from a holistic approach, by empowering members including programs about nutrition, stress management, biofeedback, and overall health education.”

Student Recreation and Wellness Center at Long Beach State University.
Student Recreation and Wellness Center at Long Beach State University. Photo credit: Marita Snyder

“COVID-19 highlighted the fact that like mental wellness is not a trend, but I think it made it very aware that like mental health mental,” said Armendariz. “Health and wellness is a serious thing.”

Not having the proper resources to combat mental health issues can make prioritizing students’ studies difficult.

Student staff members seem to agree that mental health is a driving factor for them and others to attend the recreational center with the help of Beach Balance.

“Beach Balance really focuses on mental and like holistic health, so I think that’s also really important,” said Aiman Warsi, Student and Membership Services staff member.

Shake Smart, one of the health and nutrition-focused food options inside the SRWC, has improved student interaction.

Since its opening on campus in 2021, students and staff have found that this food option compared to previous versions has increased attendance.

“We had Robek’s Juice prior to Shake Smart and the usage, just from visually seeing how many people are going in and purchasing shakes or snacks seems like it’s a lot more consistent,” said Armendariz.

The growth of Robek’s aims to continues, with its new location being in the second floor of the USU, to attract students to a different location on campus.

“I just think the environment in there is very inviting and that’s another thing that we have done to get more people in here because again it’s not just a gym,” Armendariz said.

With the aid of the SRWC’s incentives and amenities, students are focusing on benefitting their mental and physical health.

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