Seasonal customers pack rec center

If previous years are an indication, the crowd will dissipate by mid-semester.

Moria Fredrickson

Two weeks ago, Emma Otis had her choice of any machine at the University’s recreation center, but these days she’s riding a loathed exercise bike.

The second-year dental student’s choice, the more popular elliptical machine, was taken.

Traditionally, the first weeks of the year are some of the busiest for the rec center, but harried regulars should know the crowds do not last.

The number of entrants to the facility jumped 78 percent between December 2002 and February 2003.

If previous years are an indication, the crowd will dissipate by mid-semester. By March 2003, entries to the rec center decreased 13 percent from February.

“It usually dies down after a few weeks, although there is a small rush right before spring break,” Otis said.

Winter and New Year’s resolutions account for the jump in entries, said Kara Fresk, marketing and membership coordinator for the Department of Recreational Sports.

“Obviously we have a lot of people motivated by New Year’s resolutions to get in shape,” she said. “But we also see an increase in people who regularly exercise outside and can’t do that during the winter months.”

While a few of the more popular machines, such as the treadmill, have waiting times of five to 10 minutes, Fresk said she has heard few complaints from regulars.

Most expect the rush, and some adjust their workouts to avoid the busiest hours during lunch and 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Marea Kienbaum, a first-year student, started using the rec center last week as part of a goal to get in shape for summer. Her schedule is flexible this semester, and she said she does not mind the crowded workout rooms.

“I usually start out on the bikes or weights because they usually aren’t as busy, then I wait for an elliptical machine to open up,” Kienbaum said.

First-year student Alia Allison has been sweating at the rec center since last fall and is now trying to make it a daily routine. The increase in users this month has not helped.

“It’s a lot busier now, and with my busy schedule, that can be frustrating,” Allison said.

For other regular users such as Nancy Cashman, a third-year dental student, others’ slacking physical-fitness motivation could not come too soon.

“It seems like people work out like maniacs until spring break, and after that only the die-hards are left,” she said.