By Nina Mendes
The sunlight shining through the glass lights up the observation deck of the new University Recreation and Wellness Center. Treadmills and Ellipticals line the second floor, and gym-goers and nature lovers alike can watch the palm trees sway in the breeze.
A soft opening will take place on Jan. 21. The gym will hold its grand opening on Feb. 7.
The gym at Alico Arena will close when the new Rec Center opens. The building and its equipment will be restricted to FGCU’s Division I athletes.
There are two fitness studios in the new facility offering over 50 group classes to students and staff, which is more than the FGCU Fitness Center could provide.
Director of Campus Recreation, Amy Swingle, has played a significant role in opening the new gym.
“I think the new building will be the beginning of a change in student culture and their wellbeing,” Swingle said. “Students use Campus Rec facilities to meet people, socialize and step outside of their boundaries. The idea of getting connected plays a big role in a student’s positive mental attitude.”
She also said the larger facility would better accommodate the growing number of students on campus, which will promote a more inclusive exercising experience.
The 46,000 square foot, two-story building totaled around $18 million and was carefully constructed to not interfere with neighboring wetlands.
Outdoor Pursuits Intern, Shea Van Alstyne has been working closely with Campus Rec with the transition.
“It’s awesome to be able to show our students how much we appreciate them,” Alstyne said. “The new building gives a larger space for our students to come and recreate. This isn’t just something that prostaff did; this is something that as a collective Campus Rec did.”
She said her favorite part about Campus Rec is the fitness classes because they can make working out a more enjoyable experience for students.
FGCU Aquatics’ Head Lifeguard, Olivia Szpunar was invited to a sneak peek of the University Recreation and Wellness Center. She lives in University Village, which is walking distance from the new building.
“I originally started working out for my mental health, and it turned into something so much more,” Szpunar said. “Exercising every day has turned into an essential element of my day and something I genuinely look forward to.”
Students and members of the new facility will have the option to sign in using their ID card or by downloading the FGCU GO app.
“Students make the decision [to attend FGCU] based on what their quality of life would be at this university,” Swingle said. “Students have been asking for this for over twelve years. This has been a team effort, and I hope people come to take part and appreciate it.”
The new Rec Center is beside South Village and will be open Monday – Thursday from 6 a.m. – 12 a.m., Friday from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.