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Get off your lazy butt

College's fitness center is free, but underused

By Leigh Cole
On April 18, 2017

The Fitness Center offers a variety of workout equipment.

One of the benefits of attending MCCC is free use of the Fitness Center.

 Although gym memberships off-campus cost more than $100 a year, many students still elect to pay the fee, or avoid working out altogether.

This raises two questions: why aren’t there more students using the Fitness Center, and what can MCCC do to encourage more students to use it?

Recent studies indicate the use of fitness gyms among millennials is on the decline nationally – they’re often viewed by millennials as something their parents use.

Other studies indicate millennials have moved on from gyms to group participatory sports and outdoor activities.

According to students and administrators at MCCC, a variety of factors are involved in the decline in usage. They range from hours of operation to decreased funding to admitted laziness.

According to figures provided by Megan McCaffery-Bezeau, the Fitness Center director, use of the center dropped from 6,702 total hours in the 2014-15 school year to 4,556 last year. It’s on target for another decline this year.

None of the students who were interviewed complained about lack of equipment in the center.

The MCCC Fitness Center is equipped with weight machines, a collection of barbells and an assortment of cardiovascular machines, including elliptical machines. There are mats for stretching, medicine balls, and other aerobic accessories.

MCCC administrators have taken a variety of steps to improve use of the center.

“One step we took was to place the ID card maker here, so more students would have to visit us,” McCaffery-Bezeau said.

Most students, unless they are enrolled in the Nursing program, never attend classes in the Health Education Building, so it may be a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

“We were concerned that few knew we were here,” McCaffery-Bezeau said.

Almost all the students interviewed mentioned they have been to the Fitness Center, if only to get their ID card made.

MCCC also has introduced a “Friends of the Alumni” program that allows community members to use the Fitness Center by registering and paying a $50 annual fee. That is less than half of the cost of an off-campus fitness center membership.

This means students can bring friends and family with them to the Fitness Center. Once the annual fee is paid, the guest will receive an alumni identification card that allows them to use the Fitness Center at any time.

One problem with the program seems to be that very few administrators or students know about it.

In fact, McCaffery-Bezeau admitted she had not heard of it. It was student fitness worker, Zachary Kipp, who explained the Friends of the Alumni program.

“I just knew about it because I have worked here longer than anyone else,” Kipp said.

Josh Meyers, executive director of the MCCC Foundation, confirmed the benefit.

“Yes, it is for anyone to use,” he said.

Mark Hall, director of Admissions and Guidance, said the program was initiated as a recruiting tool.

Students cited two primary reasons they do not use the Fitness Center. One is that the hours of operation are limited, and the second is lack of time.

Some also admitted to being “too lazy” to use the facilities.

“No, I don’t use it. I just don’t have the time,” student Rebecca Butler stated flatly.

Connor Harmon agreed, pointing out that the limited hours make it harder to find time.

“I have used it a few times,” Harmon said. “But it isn’t 24 hours.”

If the Fitness Center is being underutilized, what justification can there be for paying more staff to operate the center for longer hours?

“That is the issue,” agreed Hall.

In the past, MCCC offered advanced physical fitness courses and individual training programs.

“It probably would help, but we don’t have anyone on staff trained to conduct such classes,” McCaffery-Bezeau said.

The students who work in the Fitness Center receive training in CPR, first aid, and administrative functions, but they cannot provide fitness or training advice, she said.

Hall noted that when MCCC offered classes in physical conditioning before, they were not very popular.

“They were worth a credit, but did not contribute to any degrees we have at MCCC, so we no longer have them,” Hall said.

In addition to the weight room, there are other fitness opportunities available to users.

Across the hallway from the gym are basketball and volleyball courts, and two locker rooms with showers.

The Fitness Center offers pick-up volleyball, dodgeball, and basketball leagues, which are ongoing.

In addition, the courts can be reserved for individual games and times.

 As the weather improves, there also is a Par Course.

The Par Course extends for two miles on the MCCC campus grounds. The terrain varies from flat and straight stretches to small up-hill climbs.

The course is complete with 18 separate stations, including the start and finish lines. In between are exercise stations, such as the Achilles stretch, step up, chin up, vault bar and bench-leg-raise stations.

Anyone interested in receiving training on the Par Course or reserving a court or joining or creating a new league should contact Megan McCaffery-Bezeau at 734-242-7300, extension 4423.

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