Volume 13, Number 8 December 2, 2005

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Patrons give PAC a full workout

Fit Centre averages 687 visits per day

By Colleen MacPherson

Director of Community Programs Paul Rogal in the Fit 

Director of Community Programs Paul Rogal in the Fit Centre.

Photo by Colleen MacPherson

The numbers say it all – the Physical Activity Complex (PAC) has been a busy place since it opened in September 2003.

On Nov. 2, the building recorded its one millionth card swipe through the turnstile and on Oct. 21, its Fit Centre had its 500,000th visitor. These significant milestones are very close to targets set out in the business plan for the PAC, according to Paul Rogal, director of community programs. The Fit Centre alone is meeting expenses and “is not a drain on anything we do, which is important from a College (of Kinesiology) perspective”.

Rogal said he is unable to determine what portion of the patrons represent each of three user groups – students who pay a user fee with their student fees, faculty who can use the facility for $40 per month or $400 per year, and Administrative & Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) members who get use of the PAC as a taxable benefit under the terms of their collective agreement. What he does know, however, is that “generally, people really, really like what we’ve done here”.

In addition to the Fit Centre, which averages 687 visits per day, PAC facilities include the climbing wall, the walk/jog track, swimming pool, racquet courts and a dance studio. Rogal reports that, as of Oct. 21, 3,079 people had taken the wall climbing course, and the facility has rented out some 186,000 towels. On the courts, about 2,600 users have made just over 28,500 court bookings since the facility opened.

In the Fit Centre, the recumbent and upright bikes have been pedalled a combined 434,628 km, while runners have travelled some 347,500 km on the 12 treadmills. And the step machines and cross trainers have been used for a total of 67,537 hours. That equals 2,814.04 days or 7.7 years.

With all that use, it is inevitable that some equipment is starting to show wear and tear, Rogal said. To try and even out the use of the machines, staff “rotate the tires regularly. We know that the treadmill right in front of the TV will get the most use so we switch them around”. Still, the six Stairmaster machines “are not holding up as expected and we’re considering replacing them. We’re two years in, but if we get four years out of the treadmills I’ll be extremely happy”.

The PAC has technical staff trained to fix the equipment, he said, “but when we’re very busy, we can’t have three steppers down for repairs”. There is a 15-year replacement plan for equipment and some funds are set aside each year for that eventuality, but “to replace six steppers this early wasn’t in the plan”.

Besides dealing with the crowds and the occasional out-of-service machine, the only other occasional point of contention for patrons is the music played in the Fit Centre. It cannot be offensive or overbearing, Rogal said, “but it’s an issue of taste, no different than the colour of the walls”.

As for the building’s giant triple gym, “we’re starting to understand better its potential uses”, including non-sporting events. For example, a year ago it was the site of the launch of the University’s major fundraising campaign, and it has been used for blood donor clinics. The college receives many requests to use the gym from non-University users, “but it’s first and foremost an academic facility. If we can fit them in, we do but from September to March, there’s are not a lot of free weekends around here.”

For Rogal and the PAC staff, there is no expectation it will be any less busy in its third year of operation. Right now, they are gearing up for the busiest time of all – Mondays in January. In fact, the record for Fit Centre visits in a single day came on Jan. 10 and Jan. 17 of this year when 1,853 people worked out.

For those planning to use the facility to fulfil a New Year’s resolution, Rogal has some advice. He suggests avoiding noon-hours and after 4:30 p.m., the most popular times for faculty and staff. “And be patient – it’ll slow down, so try to continue on through that busy January time”.

He also suggests making a New Year’s fitness resolution in May.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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