The UAFS Recreation and Wellness Center – The RAWC – is elite when it comes to facilities but unique when it comes to funding. It is the center the students paid for.
In 2013, the Student Government Association passed a resolution in support of a fee increase to pay to construct a new recreation center on campus. But before approving the plan, the University of Arkansas System wanted something from campus that showed more broad-based support. So SGA went to work with a voter-education plan and held a special election for the entire student body. The proposal passed with high voter participation. Students addressed the UA System Board in March 2014, and the board OK’s the unusual plan. Students pay and extra $5 per credit hour to support the center.
Meighan Pendergrass, in her 11th year at UAFS, is the director of campus recreation and wellness. She remembers the previous facility so she has a real appreciation for the new space. Since opening in 2016, the RAWC has seen up to 700 users per day.
The ball court area boasts a wooden floor with two full-sized basketball courts, two full-sized volleyball courts and two full-sized badminton courts. A screen can be lowered to divide the area. Basketball goals and nets can be raised. The area is open during the day for student use. At night, during indoor sports season, the courts are used for intramural games. So far this year, courts have been used for indoor soccer, 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 basketball, and volleyball. Raised around the courts is a three-lane walking track with Mondo track flooring.
The second level of The RAWC has two studio classrooms. The larger one has a wooden floor designed for dance classes and high impact activities. Mirrors to help check form and a barre make the room appropriate for a ballet barre class. The second room is smaller and has a rubber floor 20 spin bikes.
The cardio loft has treadmills, elliptical trainers, climbmills and upright and recumbent bikes
The climbing zone has a 35-foot climbing wall with seven top rope lines. A 15-foot bouldering wall doesn’t require a harness; climbers work with a buddy to act as a spotter and ensure that if the climber falls, his or her head doesn’t hit the ground. The surface is recessed into the ground with 12 inches of foam for extra safety. The center offers belay certification for partners to work on the climbing wall together. The area is fully staffed and all equipment like harnesses and shoes. Rappelling classes are also offered. A program is underway now to challenge students to climb a mile in a month. In 35-foot increments, that works out to about 150 climbs in 30 days.
Cardio dance classes in the large studio usually attracts about 30 students. That class along with Zumba, yoga, core crunch, step dance and the barre class are led by certified instructors. All the group fitness classes are included in the fee the students already pay, so they don’t need to sign up. Pendergrass said, “All the dance fitness classes are high energy and a lot of fun.”
- The main fitness floor, which is big enough to contain the entire previous facility with room left over has all new Matrix equipment, expanded free weights, plate-loaded equipment, pin-loaded equipment, and multi-functional area. The expanded space and equipment make it possible for more people to work out at the same time.