The outdoor fitness facility, designed by the National Fitness Campaign, has more than 30 exercise machines and is expected to become a popular part of Elon’s campus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left us with many changes in everyday life that seem to have become our “new normal”. One of those many changes is the way we stay in shape.
The decline in gym memberships was widespread during the pandemic, as people had been in self-quarantine for a significant portion of the past year and a half and saw no need to resume memberships once restrictions were relaxed and eventually lifted.
The fitness center includes seven movement zones and instructions for exercises with QR codes.
Outside of gym membership, Americans’ physical activity dropped 26 percent overall from 2020 to 2021, according to a survey by RunRepeat. The same survey found that the number of people who have opted for outdoor sports has increased by 14 percent.
To address the fear some have of returning to gyms or closed exercise areas as COVID-19 cases rise again and those who have given up their physical activity completely, outdoor exercise areas seem to be the solution. And the outdoor fitness area in Elon University’s Innovation Quad is the university’s answer to this problem.
The National Fitness Campaign (NFC), based in San Francisco, is the umbrella organization of the fitness court and was founded in 1979. The company plans to operate in over 1,000 cities and universities by 2022. Elon became one of these college partners in 2021.
According to Larry Mellinger, director of Campus Recreation & Wellness, the decision to partner with NFC was made after the university’s fitness program, the fastest growing area in Campus Recreation & Wellness, grew, and the increasing popularity of boutique style and outdoor fitness was found.
“We came into contact with them a few years ago and the timing just wasn’t right,” said Mellinger.
The center was established in partnership with the Student Government Association, along with Student Life Vice President Jon Dooley, chairing a committee focused on improving the outdoor areas of the campus.
“This project was carried out through this committee,” said Mellinger. “Which from my point of view is amazing because it is driven by the students, by a committee made up of students, lecturers and staff. It’s also a great partnership with the Student Government Association. “
The fitness area is about half the size of a basketball court, has seven stations – core, squat, push, lunge, pull, agility and bending – for a seven-minute workout that can be done for multiple circuits and over 30 body weights. The dish can seat 18 to 24 people at the same time.
It also has a QR code that directs the exercising person to the fitness court app. There are various workouts in the app that are accompanied by a recorded virtual trainer who goes through the various exercises.
In addition to the completed and currently open fitness court, there is an 800 m long track on the same property along Haggard Ave., the former Elon elementary school.
After the construction site was prepared for the laying of the concrete slabs and all surfaces were level, the court itself only needed three to four days for the construction. NFC sent its own team to build the fitness court tailored for Elon.
Mellinger said the gym is a great example of the decentralized model that Campus Recreation & Wellness has used over the past few years. The Koury Center is the main facility, Mellinger said, but the focus is on several smaller satellite facilities spread across campus.
Each of these satellites serve a specific niche for each area of the campus they are in, and the idea is not to replicate their particular qualities.
“If we continue to grow on campus, it could be that fitness or other outdoor recreation and fitness areas will be needed [the fitness court] or it could be something else that offers a different nuance, ”said Mellinger.
“I expect this will be incredibly popular,” he said. “But popular enough to replicate elsewhere on campus, maybe not.”
Finally, a water bottle filling station has to be set up on the fitness court. Since the court is outdoors, there is no mask mandate, although a mask is required to use the Koury Center.
The field requires minimal maintenance and does not require shift supervision, but a Campus Recreation & Wellness representative will visit the field several times a day to disinfect the equipment.
On Tuesday, September 7th, at 5.30 p.m. there will be a grand opening of the fitness court for all lecturers and employees, where all the possibilities of the equipment will be demonstrated.