The Wade King Rec Center: Revolutionizing what it means to be healthy for famously UNhealthy college kids

The Wade King rec center, for WWU students, offers many different ways for students to get active at their own pace. Whether one’s experience be beginner, intermediate, or advanced, they have a place at WWU’s rec center.

The rec center is one of the most accessible places on campus nestled in with all the other buildings for classes. As you walk up you can recognize that it’s a somewhat modern building on western’s campus as the rec center opened in 2003 (wwu.edu). It is one of the first buildings you see of the campus besides student services if coming from Bill McDonald Parkway.

As you walk in and open the unreasonably heavy doors, you can see a study area, a café, and the check in desk. Now in most gyms, you’d need a membership to get in or pay a guest fee or even at the YMCA they make guests fill out paperwork before they can enter. Luckily WWU students can get in with handing their card over and the employees greet you with a smile and bid you off with “have a good one” or something along those lines. In terms of when you decide to walk in and open the unreasonably heavy doors, the rec is open 6am- midnight on week nights, 6am-10pm on Fridays, and 8am-8pm Saturdays, and 8am- 9pm on Sundays (wwu.edu). These hours compared to other gyms are much more flexible as the gym I attended at home closed at 8–9 every night.

When you pass through the gates, the first thing you see to your left is the huge rock climbing wall. The people there always seem to be very relaxed and simply having a good time. Then you pass a few gyms used for volleyball and basketball and a blocked off one for other sports. As you make your way to the locker room, you pass various vending machines that are somewhat ironically placed; some with things like protein bars and muscle milk and others with soda and candy. This could help the rec center with appealing to all types of people, however the unhealthy options sort of defeat the purpose of going to the rec center in the first place.

Once you leave the locker room and go upstairs, you are immediately in a weight room. The people in here always seem to know what they’re doing more than anyone else to me. They are the ones who just seem more dedicated as seen by their physical appearance. To the right of the weight room is an indoor track, much comparable to a nice YMCA track. To the left are a lot of classrooms for things like yoga, spin class, Zumba, etc. which you can take for credits as a class or simply pay $5 for a drop-in pass for any fitness pass or pay $45 for an X pass which lasts all quarter and gives unlimited classes. You could also attend free fitness week which is usually at the beginning of each quarter (wwu.edu). Once you pass the classrooms for said classes, you reach the “cardio room” or basically the room with a lot of treadmills, ellipticals, step machines, and bikes, and mats with medicine balls and weighted bars.

As I began to run on the treadmill, I felt none of the social expectation of “you get judged in the gym” as I walk a lot on the treadmill. Everyone minds their own business and the only way you’d feel actually judged in this specific room is if you didn’t wipe down your spot when done. Because that’s the most simple of gym rules. Of course there are other, actual rules in writing on their website with things such as, “Children under the age of 18 are not allowed into the facility unless it is during family hours. Family hours are Fridays after 5:00pm and all day Saturday and Sunday.”(wwu.edu). Working my way onto other machines I notice as people come and go, the sort of people that come in and work on treadmills and all, are mostly girls. As opposed to the weight room which was mostly guys. This doesn’t mean too much of the facility overall, however an observation that maybe girls prefer cardio over weight lifting and vice versa for guys, though of course there are many exceptions to this.

Once I made my way to the mats and started my usual calisthenics routine, I notice the sort of group mentality that is present on the mats. Once someone sees someone doing something they like, they do it themselves. I noticed several people around me do as I did after me and I even noticed someone doing a plank which I realized I forgot about and then, did a plank myself. The whole room itself felt very group oriented, getting ideas and inspiration from others rather than trying to go harder than your neighbor or some nonsense like that. This makes anyone, especially new or a beginner at working out feel welcome. Also if simply jumping into figuring out a workout on your own seems too crazy the rec center also offers personal trainers with flexible schedules and relatively low rates compared to other personal trainers (wwu.edu).

This room also has a pretty vast view of the comm lawn, the walkway from the stairs, and everything of campus between in that area. It also has TVs lining the walls above the windows that play things from big bang theory and modern family to ghost adventures and food network. The room has the most equipment and thus possibility for the most people. It seemed to be quite crowded on a Tuesday afternoon most likely because of new years resolutions. (Not so well shown in the picture below).

After finishing up my workout and feeling absolutely exhausted from not doing anything over the holidays, I head to the hot tub for a relaxing finish to the trip. Now earlier I said that the judgmental environment wasn’t present at the rec center, however, once my roommate and I dawned our bikinis for the hot tub, we felt very heavily judged as if we were about to lap swim in two pieces…

Once in the pool area, you’ll notice the huge area for lap swimming, to the side of that, a kiddie pool, and then a pretty large hot tub. When we finally got into the hot tub, it was a pretty relaxed environment with people coming and going as they please. A good spot for people watching if you’re into that. The hot tub is my friend Jessica’s favorite place in the rec center: “It’s really big and warm. It’s so big that there can be a ton of people in it and you don’t feel crowded and you can comfortably keep to yourself.” (Jessica Niles). Over all a very relaxing way to end your workout is with a soothing sit in the hot tub to make you calm down and think through the rest of the day and feel motivated. If you’re really feeling motivated to get healthy, the rec center also offers a dietician who can give any nutritional advice for students that are really *trying* to be actual adults (wwu.edu).

Overall, The Wade King rec center is a good place for students just beginning, average, and advanced, to be healthy and get fit. It welcomes everyone and works to provide any provisions a student needs to get healthy and in shape. As I walked out of the gym even though the exit gate is far away from the check-in desk, I was surprised to hear a “Thanks for coming have a good day!”

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