BodyWise moves from Putnam into Rec Center

In this photo, the UConn Student Recreational Facility, also known as the Rec Center, is pictured. Renovations to the Putnam Dining Hall have forced UConn's BodyWise fitness and wellness program to move into the already-cramped facility, causing some student backlash. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

With housing additions at Putnam forcing BodyWise classes out of their location inside the dining hall, the University of Connecticut’s Student Recreation staff looked at several potential alternative spaces on campus to hold the classes.

After a year of planning, the department opted to relocate BodyWise to the already cramped Student Recreation Center, a move that Executive Director Cynthia Costanzo said was the best considering the facts.

“BodyWise, since its origination, has always been located in somebody else’s space; and we’ve been grateful for that space, and they’ve been great partnerships," Costanzo said. "But as with this example in Putnam, when that area needed to be purposed for really what it should be – the expansion for student services – BodyWise lost its location." 

The Student Recreation department invested an estimated $80,000 over the summer to make changes to the Rec Center – including accommodating BodyWise.

The location is somewhat temporary, as Recreation services awaits the development of the new Recreation Center, currently in the very early stages of construction. The facility will be significantly larger and will be able to house BodyWise classes and gym equipment better than the current Rec Center, which the department fully understands is way too small for the ever-growing UConn population.

“We know we’re busy, we know we’re too small. The university is addressing that issue. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Costanzo said.

In the end, the new location decision came down to either keeping BodyWise in its entirety – plus adding more classes – or cutting the program by 50 percent.

The move not only allowed for the program to remain intact, but more classes were added on to the schedules. The move also made sense with the reorganization of the Rec Center’s layout. That way, both BodyWise and the usual gym equipment could be maintained at the same level of service. Some of the weights were relocated in the building with the new design layout, allowing for more efficiency in the Rec Center overall.

No equipment has ever been removed from the gym, Costanzo said.

I’m not against BodyWise classes in general, but it’s also very clear that they’re not worth saving if it means essentially giving the middle finger to the majority of the student body who do not take these classes.
— Andrew Kerester, a seventh-semester political science major, on UConn's decision to move BodyWise into the Rec Center

Along with adding more time slots, group sessions will take place on top of the hour and spin classes will take place on the half hour. The times for classes were also reoriented so that there is no reason to wait in a common area as many did in the Putnam location. 

BodyWise is a prominent program on campus. Last year’s evaluation of participants revealed that the number of participants in BodyWise was almost exactly equivalent to the number of participants in intramural sports, Costanzo said.

However, not everyone is so keen on the idea. Andrew Kerester, a seventh-semester political science major, said he thinks the university is making a mistake by keeping the program at all.

“I'm not against BodyWise classes in general, but it's also very clear that they're not worth saving if it means essentially giving the middle finger to the majority of the student body who do not take these classes," Kerester said. "I think I speak for many who would agree that if given the choice between how the gym is currently set up and getting rid of BodyWise classes, most would much rather get rid of BodyWise classes and return to the old set up."

“Nobody's happy, but there's nothing that can fix it... except maybe opening up the weight rooms under Gampel to the student body," fifth-semester engineering graduate student Mike Stettenbenz said. "It's a bad situation. It's growing pains."

The program clocked in 35,000 classes last year. Records show that the majority of students do not utilize all of Student Recreation’s services, so it would be unfair to cut classes, especially for those who solely use BodyWise for fitness, Costanzo said.

“I understand (the concerns) on the surface; I’ve seen all the arguments. One student posted, ‘One gym for 20,000 guys lifting?’ Well that’s factually incorrect. So that’s not a fair argument because that’s not true,” Costanzo said.

The student body needs to work with the Recreation department and use the space that is available right now, until the new Recreation Center is up and running. While that won’t be anytime soon, the new changes are the most efficient option at this time, Costanzo said.

More information about the new BodyWise location and plans for the new Recreation Center will be revealed next week in a special release, Costanzo said.


Molly Stadnicki is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at molly.stadnicki@uconn.edu. She tweets @molly_stadnicki.