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Facilitating a Fitness Frenzy

RecWell Ramps Up Services as Terps’ Interest Swells

By Annie Krakower

Students throw medicine balls in UMD RecWell group fitness class

Students participate in a new fitness bootcamp class earlier this semester. University Recreation and Wellness has seen a surge in demand and participation this spring and is working to accommodate active Terps with more group class offerings, free swim lessons and more.

Photo by Hope Llansó

Grace Gaynor ’22 has been getting in her reps in University Recreation and Wellness’ weight rooms for years, but this semester, an influx of fellow iron pumpers has forced her to hit the gym earlier than usual. And as a BODYPUMP instructor, she’s seen a similar surge in her consistently crammed classes—even those before 8 a.m. lectures.

Gaynor is not the only one to notice the furor over fitness this spring: The air is leaking out of the bike supply just as demand shifted into high gear, Adventure Program hopefuls have been climbing wait lists instead of mountains, and private swim lessons are overflowing with interest. With COVID-19 metrics improving and more people feeling comfortable enough to get out and get their blood flowing in groups, RecWell is working to accommodate the welcome wave of active Terps.

“This semester, it’s just a different feeling,” Gaynor said. “People are ready to move on, and they want to come into these spaces, work out, be fit and find a community.”

For fitness and wellness group classes like those Gaynor teaches, RecWell has bumped up the in-person offerings from last spring’s 97 per week to this semester’s 130, with cycling and yoga among the most popular options. And in January, before the semester even started, 30 Terps anted up to work with personal trainers, quadrupling the revenue in that category from the same month in 2021.

“We were pleasantly surprised with how quickly we’ve been able to bounce back,” said Tami Lee, assistant director of fitness and wellness.

Besides offering more classes at more times—like a new boxing class at 7:15 a.m. and spinning at the usually off-peak 10 a.m.—IMLeagues, primarily used for club sports roster management pre-COVID, recently was implemented for fitness class signups. The tool provides participants with a “virtual checklist” to see beforehand if a session is full, said student and RecWell instructor Rae Knicley ’22.

Amanda Preperato, assistant director of RecWell’s Adventure Program, has also seen packed participant lists this semester. The program’s always-popular trips, like the cherry blossom kayak on the Potomac and a sunrise hike on Old Rag Mountain, filled up within minutes of opening, with the excursions racking up wait lists as many as 96 people deep. The Bike Shop, too, has felt the sting of recent global supply chain slowdowns, with inventory 20 bikes fewer than the usual 75.

While the team hopes to get more equipment later this semester, it’s working to meet demand in other ways in the meantime. When registration opens for more trips after spring break, Preperato said, they’re exploring offering signups at more times to accommodate Terps who have class or work at noon, when registration typically begins. They’ve also started allowing open enrollment for individuals to try Challenge Course programs, like the Alpine Tower climb or the Giant Swing, which used to require a group to participate.

“We’re trying to think about how to increase access for a wider variety of Terps,” Preperato said.

Programs across RecWell are flexing big numbers this semester:

Aquatics

  • At 85% capacity for group swim classes and over capacity for private swim lessons
  • New free swim lessons and “Discover Scuba” classes added to accommodate students

Intramural Sports

  • Nearly 1,800 students play on over 170 basketball teams
  • Over 70 students hired as basketball officials and scorekeepers

Clubs

  • 3,812 students in 46 clubs
  • Clubs practice 132 times per week for over 250 hours

Open Recreation Basketball

  • 60 participants per hour
  • Over seven hours played per evening

Fitness

  • 74 group fitness instructors (most ever)
  • $8,650 in personal training revenue in January, compared to $2,164 a year earlier

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